Technology / Networking

Network Battle Royale: Cisco vs. Juniper vs. Check Point

by Josh Adams
Network Battle Royale: Cisco vs. Juniper vs. Check Point picture: A
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Published on July 27, 2018

Network security is more crucial than ever. The average cost of a data breach is about to exceed $150 million. This looming price tag is lighting a fire under many businesses to put NetSec pros and solutions into place before disaster strikes.

To take on cyber threats, you need the right tools. Cisco, Juniper, and Check Point each provide well-regarded security solutions. They're set apart not by their technical merits (or shortcomings), but your specific network and specific needs. It's worth taking a closer look to determine which best fits your needs.

Cisco: The Networking King

If your organization wants a networking security solution that's widely trusted, Cisco should top the list. They have solutions for any sized organization.

The number of pros getting certified and gaining experience with Cisco should make your choice clearer. If you're willing to spend more money on products, you should consider that Cisco is the most valued network security provider for a reason.

Since the 1980s, Cisco has maintained a stronghold on the entire networking market. The company provides telecommunication, cybersecurity, and network security solutions.

Over almost 40 years, Cisco hasn't lost its grip. In the first quarter of 2018, Cisco held 16.43% of the global market share for security appliance vendors. They earned an estimated revenue of $533.31 million. With this hold on the market, Cisco tops the list of vendors in the industry. They maintain strong year-over-year growth in the network security sector. Having garnered this much financial success shows the reliability that IT pros relate to Cisco solutions.

Cisco's pride and joy when it comes to NetSec is their Adaptive Security Appliance (ASA) family of devices. This architecture comes complete with appliances, blades, and virtual devices that protect corporate networks and data centers.

ASA devices have a GUI that has most pros up in arms. However, Cisco's GUI does make it easy for non-security specialists to set up and manage firewalls. It really ends up being more about the concepts you're applying to the GUI, anyway.

On top of a robust product base, Cisco has more aspects worth championing. Supporters are quick to discuss Cisco's staying power to anyone who will listen. There's a myriad of reasons for their steadfast support. Cisco products are easy to troubleshoot with fantastic support. They also have unparalleled coverage in the industry.

Customer satisfaction also plays a crucial role in Cisco's success story — and why so many are loyal to the networking giant.Certification paths, Cisco Live, andsupport forums are positioned well by the company, and many IT pros turn to these resources first.

There are very active Cisco communities onReddit,Spiceworks, and TechExams. Cisco users can ask for help, swap tips, and share stories of Cisco success. There's no shortage of places to seek out information about Cisco technologies.

Cisco's popularity in the network security world lends itself to it being a trusted brand. You can find articles and posts about just about every feature Cisco is developing. There are articles about Cisco implementing email security services to itsAMP endpoint platform. IT pros are writing about Cisco capitalizing on the growing Managed Security Services opportunity. If neither of those topics interest you, read up on the protection Cisco Umbrella offers.

Yet, Cisco isn't the perfect provider. You're going to pay a higher price for their solutions, especially on licensing for features and bandwidth. They haven't earned their keep through giving away solutions for free or at a low cost.

Juniper: The One-Trick Steed

Organizations wanting more defined solutions should consider Juniper. Its intense focus on the security realm lends itself to a higher tier of solutions.

Juniper's quality comes through in their products, and also in the breadth of documentation and demonstrations. If your IT security team doesn't know Juniper, there are plenty of verified learning resources.

Although Juniper is not anywhere near replacing Cisco, it addresses pain points that make it worth considering. In fact, Juniper was once called a potential "Cisco Killer." Nevertheless, Juniper offers a viable routing, switching, and security solution alternative to Cisco.

Unlike Cisco, Juniper does not offer a broad swath of all things network-related. Their focus is top of the line solutions for routing, switching, and network security. Juniper sticks to offering firewall solutions, advanced threat protection, and security management products.

Juniper's security mettle is earned through their SRX Series Services Gateways. SRX gateways take high port-density, advanced security, and flexible connectivity — and throw it all onto one platform. SRX gateways are based on Junos, Juniper's operating system. Junos supports rich routing capabilities, and Junos' architecture can provide reliable service operations and manageability.

Juniper's rivalry with Cisco results in their products being very different. One might even say Juniper constructed their OS and GUI to be as contrary to Cisco as possible. Their higher-end blade-based chassis products are great for enterprise-level solutions. Their structure lends itself to an ability to integrate some serious hardware, along with their firewall modules.

Juniper's focus on a smaller range of products is reflected in their market share. In the first quarter of 2018, Juniper held 2.24% of the global market share for security appliance vendors, earning an estimated revenue of$73 million.

For those who roll with Juniper, they hold similar sentiments. The company's focus on its core products leads to moretop-of-the-line solutions. Theirdocumentation and demos are super informative, and their rollback process is known asa "lifesaver."

Juniper's core products are known for faster turnaround and more stability. They avoid a "feature overload" that might slow down their Cisco counterpart. For instance,Junos is much more modular and robust than Cisco's feature-rich IOS. If a process within the OS crashes, it doesn't take out the entire network node. It's clear that Juniper is listening to their customers and implementing seamless features that keep networks and data safe.

Focusing on a core group of products enables Juniper to create comprehensive demonstrations and documentation. Juniper'sTechLibrary offers extensive technical documentation. TheirFeature Explorer finds the right software release and product for your network. They also have aCLI Explorer where you can dive into Junos OS configuration statements and commands. TheirPathfinder houses product information from authentic sources. Also,it's super easy to access demos of their core products.

The rollback feature has saved many Juniper supporters. If you make a mistake in your configuration, you can revert to the "last known good" config using the "rollback" command. In fact, Junos stores 50 old archived configuration files you can roll back to if needed.

Juniper has the smallest reach in the network security field, but they are fiercely committed to the products they do offer. If they could produce more solutions with the sameattention to quality, they would better compete for Cisco's massive piece of the market share.

Check Point: A Security Swordsmith

Organizations that want to be especially proactive in regard to security should consider aligning with Check Point. The provider has a robust firewall with intuitive features, but their focus on Gen V security keeps their products more than "up-to-date." Using Check Point helps your team look toward the future as well. If you have the bandwidth to focus on the next generation, Check Point should be the top choice.

Check Point entered the network security scene in 1993 with their stateful firewalls.  Today, Check Point focuses on "fifth generation cybersecurity." Gen V concentrates on attacks across mobile, cloud, and on-premises networks. These attacks bypass the conventional and static defenses used by most organizations. Check Point breaks down its Gen V solutions into five different sectors. These categories include Network, Cloud, Mobile, Endpoint, and Security Management.

An eye toward the future has benefited Check Point in the market. In the first quarter of 2018, Check Point held 11.54% of the global market share for security appliance vendors. They earned an estimated revenue of $374.5 million.

Check Point fans agree that the vendor's eye toward the future makes their products much better than other vendors. They believe that Check Point's product selection isuber-powerful due to features like automated integration to simplify tasks and the industry's largest application coverage within its firewalls. Security pros also love having an unparalleled base GUI with multi-firewall admin privileges.

Check Point puts power first — and users see that. The Check Point firewall ranks high for itsease of access control. The firewall'sautomated awareness to reinforce policy definitions is a highlighted feature. Its "Bridge Mode" is also worth noting. This feature inspects traffic on Layer 2 of the OSI model and blocks any unauthorized traffic.

Check Point's firewall also hasa great GUI that's worth trying out sometime. You can manage all your firewalls from one console. It's super intuitive and is usable by people with minimal or even no training. Filter traffic for analysis and create and use objects for tidy and simple configuration.

Check Point's firewalls have a list of integrated features that cover a variety of security event processes. Unified threat management, an easybump-in-the-wire configuration, and full stack visibility cover your bases in a single interface. User and machine identity awareness also provide integration with Active Directory. This integration also protects environments relying on social media and internet applications.

Check Point's reach for immersive security makes their products stand out. Keep in mind that having this unique of experience comes at a (rather high) price. As they look to the future, they're creating products most IT pros don't know how to use. As we know, unknown tech seems to lend itself to a pretty steep learning curve.

In Conclusion

Network security is going through a transformative period. The movers and shakers have plugged away at their strategies to prepare customers for the future of network security. There's no telling the network security solutions of the future with advancements inthe cloud, the IoT, and ransomware.

The choice is yours to whom you align within this network security battle royale. Know that whichever way you go, you'll have evolving tech on your side to help you defeat threats.


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