Key Criteria for Evaluating Next-Generation Firewall Solutionsv1.0

An Evaluation Guide for Technology Decision-Makers

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. NGFW Primer
  3. Report Methodology
  4. Decision Criteria Analysis
  5. Evaluation Metrics
  6. Key Criteria: Impact Analysis
  7. Analyst’s Take
  8. About Paul Stringfellow

1. Summary

Firewalls have been an essential part of network security for decades, sitting at the perimeter of an organization’s network and using stateful filters to decide which connections to allow in and out of the network. Today’s organizations have evolved significantly, however. Workforces are more disparate, needing the flexibility to work from any location, and to do so using a wide range of devices. IT infrastructure has also changed and is no longer confined to an organization’s data center. Instead, it is likely to be in multiple locations, which may belong to the organization, be co-located with a partner, or exist in the public cloud. This new infrastructure means that an organization’s security perimeter is more difficult to define. And, of course, this comes at a time when security threats have never been more significant and complex.

All of this means that modern organizations must dramatically rethink their perimeter security approach or they’ll face a significantly increased risk of a cybersecurity incident.

Next-generation firewalls (NGFWs) can serve as an essential bulwark against this increased risk. These firewalls, while still offering all of the base functionality of a traditional firewall, have evolved to meet the demands of the modern environment. NGFWs address these modern challenges in a number of ways:

  • Flexible deployment
  • Deep analysis
  • Proactive intrusion detection
  • Proactive automation
  • Comprehensive cybersecurity mesh

These capabilities are at the core of the NGFW approach and are essential to building a modern and effective security solution.

NGFWs provide greater insight into traffic movement across infrastructure. Increasingly, they are using threat intelligence to more accurately identify and stop threats, as well as to more proactively detect and nullify threats earlier. Flexible and consistent deployment models enable NGFW solutions to protect an organization’s on-premises and cloud infrastructure. By embracing secure access service edge (SASE) and software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN), NGFW solutions ensure the security of data as it moves between locations and across infrastructure types.

Changes in infrastructure, organizational structures, and security threats mean that organizations must continually evaluate security investments. It is the areas described above that buyers should be assessing to understand whether their existing perimeter security tools and approaches remain suitable. If they do not, then evaluating NGFW solutions should be a priority.

The GigaOm Key Criteria and Radar reports provide an overview of the NGFW market, identify capabilities (table stakes, key criteria, and emerging technology) and evaluation metrics for selecting an NGFW solution, and detail vendors and products that excel. These reports give prospective buyers an overview of the top vendors in this sector and help decision-makers evaluate solutions and decide where to invest.

How to Read this Report

This GigaOm report is one of a series of documents that helps IT organizations assess competing solutions in the context of well-defined features and criteria. For a fuller understanding, consider reviewing the following reports:

Key Criteria report: A detailed market sector analysis that assesses the impact that key product features and criteria have on top-line solution characteristics—such as scalability, performance, and TCO—that drive purchase decisions.

GigaOm Radar report: A forward-looking analysis that plots the relative value and progression of vendor solutions along multiple axes based on strategy and execution. The Radar report includes a breakdown of each vendor’s offering in the sector.

Solution Profile: An in-depth vendor analysis that builds on the framework developed in the Key Criteria and Radar reports to assess a company’s engagement within a technology sector. This analysis includes forward-looking guidance around both strategy and product.

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