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As cyber attacks and advanced hacking methodologies continue to be more adept at side-stepping traditional firewalls, next-gen firewalls (NGFWs) have become the go-to option for most enterprises. These integrated hardware and software solutions combine automated processes and machine learning (ML) to stop hackers from accessing critical company information and block advanced persistent threats like malware and other forms of cyber attacks.

Choosing the best NGFW can be challenging, but enterprises can simplify the buying process by completing a next-gen firewall comparison and creating a shortlist of products.

So, who are the main players in the firewall space? In this article, we explore what next-generation firewalls are and some of the trusted NGFW vendors in the market.

What is a next-generation firewall?

The global next-generation firewall market is expected to hit $5.5 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 12.4 percent. It's considered the largest IT security products market and still growing at around 8 percent per year. So, what exactly is a next-generation firewall?

A next-generation firewall (NGFW) is part of the third generation of firewall technology (hardware and software) designed to detect and block advanced security threats by enforcing security policies at the application, port and protocol levels. It provides capabilities that go beyond a traditional, stateful network firewall.

While a traditional firewall provides stateful inspection of network traffic (both incoming and outgoing), a next-generation firewall incorporates essential additional features that include advanced threat detection and prevention abilities like sandboxing, integrated intrusion prevention (IPS) and application control. NGFW technology allows organizations to protect their networks and data centers from a wide range of threats.

Top enterprise next-gen firewall providers compared

When doing a next generation firewall comparison, here are the top vendors in the NGFW space and what each has to offer.

Palo Alto Networks NFGW

Palo Alto Networks NFGW came out among the top of both the Forrester Wave and the Gartner Magic Quadrant for its top security and performance. So, what do they offer? Well, they feature a robust combination of hardware and virtual components, as well as firewall as a service (FWaaS) solutions through Prisma Access.

With Alto Network Series, you can access the TLS/SSL decryption and inspection features to monitor traffic and ensure that no encrypted malicious traffics finds its way past your defenses. It also comes with denial of service (DoS) protection capability to defend against brute-force attacks on your network. In every case, customers can access granular application controls, tunnel monitoring capabilities, configurable quality of service (QoS) policies, integrated domain name system (DNS) security, flexible usage-based policy optimization and mobile device management – all to optimize your network performance and provide extra protection to your system.


  • Consistent protection against threats in real-time, with full visibility and control of traffic
  • Intelligent user access filtering and assessment
  • Halts outbound traffic exfiltration with the help of data loss prevention (DLP)
  • Elimination of network security gaps with the help of Panorama network security management
  • Enriched segmentation and micro-segmentation with integrated intrusion protection (IPS)

Fortinet FortiGate

Fortinet FortiGate is another perennial firewall favorite. Having been recognized for the eleventh time in Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Network Firewalls, Fortinet delivers high-performance NGFW capabilities for every type of business with full visibility control and threat protection. By integrating security and built-in SD-WAN functionality as well as offering unified threat management, Fortinet minimizes firewall management complexity while helping cut down costs.

With Fortinet, enterprises can build security-driven networks to:

  • Enable real-time defense with the help of AI/ML-powered services
  • Deliver fast security end-to-end
  • Provide seamless integration with other security products
  • Automate workflows and improve operational efficiency


  • Quickly identifies multiple apps inside network traffic for deep inspection and granular policy enforcement.
  • Provides multi-tenancy, effective utilization and extensive deployment flexibility when it comes to network resources.
  • Protection against malicious attacks, malware and other forms of attack in both encrypted and unencrypted traffic with the help of Fortinet's AI-powered, real-time threat intelligence capability.
  • Reduces cost and complexity through eliminating point products including web filtering, secure sockets layer (SSL) inspection and intrusion prevention (IPS) to provide full visibility and protection for any edge.

Cisco Firepower NGFW

Among the biggest strengths of Cisco Firepower is the breadth of its offerings including virtual firewall solutions for public and private clouds (distributed as a firewall as a service through Cisco Umbrella), intrusion prevention, cloud-based sandboxing, endpoint protection, advanced malware protection, network traffic analysis, URL filtering, web gateway protection, network access control, email security and cloud access security broker (CASB). These capabilities have made it a strong player in the hardware NFGW products for decades. The Firepower firewalls come in different forms scaling from the branch site to a carrier-grade data center.  

The Firepower Series is ideal for enterprise use. They deliver enhance threat prevention performance as well as optimize firewalls, threat prevention and cryptographic services concurrently with the help of a dual multicore CPU system.


  • Protects both on-site and cloud-based workflows, reduces complexity in the system, on-device management interface allows granular application control, and reduces time to detection and remediation.
  • Utilizes dual multicore CPU system to maintain throughput performance without interfering with threat inspection capabilities.
  • Offers optimized performance with a port density of up to 8.5 Gbps of firewall throughput speed.
  • Easy integration with other security options facilitates quick sharing of intelligence, policy controls, and any other useful information to further strengthen your defenses.

Check Point NGFW

Check Point's portfolio includes the world's largest application library with over 6,600 Web 2.0 applications. While it was among the first vendors to introduce a stateful firewall solution with cutting-edge traffic scanning capabilities, they have evolved significantly to introduce a range of physical and virtual NGFW appliances. It features over 64 different engines optimized for running all threat prevention technologies at the same time, including full SSL traffic inspection.

Check Point also features an out-of-the-box guaranteed zero-day protection gateway based on their Infinity Architecture – a consolidated security system for added threat prevention across networks, mobile, cloud, and IoT ecosystems.


  • Robust malware detection capabilities and threat protection.
  • On-demand, automated, and centralized security management control across all networks.
  • Latest CPUs to provide high-performance SSL inspection.
  • End-to-end, unified security coverage to protect against fifth-generation attacks.

Choosing a reliable next-gen firewall

As security threats continue to increase, enterprises are transitioning to Next-Generation Firewalls, and for a good reason. Instead of detecting threats based on signatures, NGFWs use a zero-trust approach to analyze the contents of every packet, detect possible malware and provide unified security to protect against fifth-generation attacks.

By integrating application and identity awareness, IPS, DPI, encryption, sandboxing and threat intelligence into NGFWs, these systems go beyond being the first line of defense. Next-gen firewalls like Palo Alto Networks, Fortinet FortiGate, Cisco Firepower NGFW and Check Point NGFW are leading the way to combat the next generation of threats while providing users enhanced centralized management capabilities.

At WWT, we are committed to ensuring you choose an NGFW platform that delivers when it comes to integration, visibility control, overall security and can help you with a next generation firewall comparison. With our dedicated team of experts and plenty of resources in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), we can help you decide on the right platform for your next-generation firewall implementation.


Work with WWT to determine the best NGFW for your organization