Saturday, May 25, 2024

Understanding the Key Differences Between Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks NGFW

Palo Alto Networks and Fortinet offer various NGFW solutions with different hardware options, configurations, and pricing. Both vendors provide both physical firewalls (PA-Series) and VM-Series Virtual Firewalls.

Fortinet has a robust firewall offering outstanding performance, visibility, and reporting with high-quality hardware. In NSS evaluations, Fortinet ranked best on TCO (per protected Mbps). The company’s ML-powered NGFWs organically converge networking and security with built-in SD-WAN, ZTNA application gateway, and 5G wireless WAN.

Feature Parity

While Feature Parity may sound like a good idea, it’s a dangerous way to think. It’s a trap that can make your product less agile and more challenging to sell and support.

It can also lead to a bloated product that costs more than it should to maintain. It’s essential to extract the key features that drive business value and leave out those that have become legacy or don’t add new business value. This can be accomplished using techniques such as Extract Product Lines or Extract Value Streams.

Fortinet’s hardware is designed to provide high-speed protection for a wide range of business operations, including branch offices, small and medium businesses, and service providers. Its PA-series physical firewalls offer NGFW, IPv6 support, multi-cloud security, and advanced threat prevention. Fortinet consistently scores well in Cyber Ratings testing and MITRE endpoint security tests for integration and deployment. Its software offers a unified platform for management, provides visibility control of cloud apps, and secures email, web applications, and IoT devices. Its WildFire sandboxing technology helps to identify and block malware.



Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks rank well when comparing firewall performance in independent testing. The latter is especially impressive regarding the Zero Trust Access (ZTA) area.

ZTA is a security model that protects data and applications from threats, allowing safe and secure business enablement without hindering performance. The comparison of Fortinet vs. Palo Alto Networks NGFW is a vital part of the overall cybersecurity strategy for many organizations today.

Fortinet offers a full suite of products that can fulfill a ZTA solution. For example, the FortiGate NGFW can do VPN, IPS, URL filtering, SSL inspection, wireless security, and more.

On the other hand, Palo Alto Networks has a few different packages that can help businesses assemble a comprehensive ZTA system. These include the Prisma Access cloud security service, Cortex XDR, and SD-WAN systems.

As a bonus, the centralized management console is an excellent tool for managing many firewalls. The only downside is that traffic and encryption keys must leave the cloud account boundary for the stack to work.


Fortinet has a good selection of hardware devices and virtual firewalls that support several different form factors and environments. Fortinet also has a zero-trust security solution that is gaining traction among enterprises.

Its FortiGate NGFWs organically converge networking and security with built-in SD-WAN, ZTNA application gateway, 5G Wireless WAN, and other capabilities. This eliminates the need for a separate third-party solution and improves security performance, productivity, and cost.

The PA-5400 family of fixed-form factor 2RU NGFW appliances delivers high-performance and session capacity for enterprise campus and data center needs. Palo Alto Networks also offers a virtual NGFW called the PA-1000.

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Using inline machine learning, the company’s ML-powered firewalls stop 40% more zero-day threats than the competition in real-time. They protect web applications with APP-ID, not just static and dynamic rules, and provide visibility and control of the entire application lifecycle. They also include a WAF fully integrated into the platform rather than as a separate software product or VM, so there are no additional licenses to buy. The centralized management platform Panorama has many features that simplify deployment and maintenance.

Endpoint Protection

Modern threats are evolving rapidly with new capabilities. To stop them, NGFWs must be able to inspect deeper than traditional packet filtering. This is where deep packet inspection (DPI) comes into play. It allows NGFWs to check the contents of every byte within a packet, including header information, to detect even the most sophisticated malware.

Additionally, an NGFW must be able to secure encrypted traffic. Attackers use encryption to hide malicious traffic and evade detection by security devices. NGFWs must be able to decrypt this traffic, identify the threat, and then take action to prevent data loss and protect user identity.

ML-powered NGFWs can identify unknown attacks in real-time. The ability to detect the most complex malware and its variants allows NGFWs to enable applications, users, content, and data safely. This is a significant advantage over other vendors that require separate security tools to do the same job. This functionality is enabled through purpose-built security subscriptions that share context and prevent threats from all stages of the attack lifecycle.


Both Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks offer centralized management systems. However, the former has an additional automation feature that lets you automate many critical functions that users would otherwise have to handle, including security policy updates manually.

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Fortinet NGFWs have an average latency of less than 10 microseconds, and their performance is best-in-class compared to firewalling applications (Palo Alto Networks does not publish its performance metrics on data sheets). The FortiGate NGFWs organically converge networking and security through innovations in FortiOS that tie critical functions as a unified system.

The NGFWs monitor applications, threats, and content and tie them to the user regardless of location or device type. Additionally, the NGFWs can protect against zero-day threats using the WildFire sandboxing option.

The company’s centralized security management system, Panorama, offers enterprise-wide monitoring, provisioning, and policy management across many physical and virtual appliances. The product includes advanced threat protection, unified access control, and cloud security posture management. Its CN-Series helps safeguard traffic between containers in Kubernetes environments without slowing development.

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A Aadithya is a content creator who publishes articles, thoughts, and stories on a blog, focusing on a specific niche. They engage with their audience through relatable content, multimedia, and interacting with readers through comments and social media.

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