SD WAN & Security Comparison: Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks

What are the main differences between Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks?

Palo Alto Networks offers comprehensive and innovative security solutions. Their products are designed to protect your organization from a wide range of online threats, including malware, ransomware and phishing attacks. Fortinet is a cybersecurity company that provides products and services to protect networks, devices and data from cyberattacks. Fortinet's products include firewalls, antivirus software, intrusion detection systems, and other security solutions.

In addition to their exceptional product lineup, Palo Alto Networks also provides expert threat intelligence and 24/7 support services to help keep you protected against the latest threats. Fortinet offers a range of services, including consulting, education, and managed security services. Fortinet has been recognized as a leader in the cybersecurity industry for its innovative products and services.

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Summary

Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks - Summary

Perhaps the two largest and most influential companies in IT network security not named Cisco, whose horizontally integrated product line is in a class by itself, are Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks. Furthermore, the two companies openly acknowledge and treat each other as competitors, with Fortinet going so far as to show financial comparisons with Palo Alto at its latest Investor Presentation. Although Palo Alto is about 36 percent larger by revenue, as the chart below illustrates, Fortinet is growing just as fast (both with 20+ percent annual revenue increases) and has consistently been profitable while Palo Alto continues to burn cash on acquisitions, expansions and product development, losing almost $500 million over the past twelve months.

FortvsPANgraph(USE)

Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks started by concentrating on very different markets — Fortinet on SMBs and SOHO users needing easily deployed and managed appliances and Palo Alto on enterprises and service providers requiring highly performant and scalable next-generation firewalls. However, in the last few years and particularly since the initial Covid restrictions, their paths have crossed as organizations needed security solutions to address an explosion in the number of remote workers and usage of cloud services.

Summary

For example, Palo Alto expanded into the Work-From-Home (WFH) market with the Okyo Garde appliance that combines a Wi-Fi 6, mesh-enabled AP with Palo Alto's firewall technology to protect against intrusions, malware and phishing attacks. Conversely, Fortinet attacked Palo Alto's strength in data center firewalls with the FortiGate 4200F that uses the company's proprietary seventh-generation NP7 security processor to deliver what the company claims is 5 to 15 times better performance than comparable products from Palo Alto, Check Point, Cisco and Juniper.

As we compare these two companies, note that there are many ways to categorize enterprise security products, made more difficult since there has been significant industry consolidation with every network security company grouping their products in different ways. For example, Palo Alto breaks its offerings into:

  • Network security (traditional hardware and virtual firewalls and traffic inspection products).
  • Cloud security (virtual security software run on cloud instances or containers and designed for VPC networks).
  • Security operations software (data logging, analysis, task automation and forensics).

Edge security using SASE services and Zero-Trust Access (ZTA) controls.

PaloAltoImage

Fortinet uses similar categories with a few additions, but also slices products by customer segment into enterprise, SMB and service provider offerings. Here, we tweak these groupings and compare the two companies in three areas: Core enterprise networking and cloud-SaaS security products, notably SASE and various consulting services.

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Contact Palo Alto Networks

Request the very latest Palo Alto Networks SD WAN & SASE data sheet PDF directly from your local account team. Please check your junk folder if not received.

Book a demo of the Palo Alto Networks SD WAN and SASE security capability over Zoom or Teams. Learn about their management portal, deployment, SLA and support. You will receive an email asking for times/dates, please check your junk folder if not received.

Request your local in-country sales contact. You will receive details as soon as possible - please check your junk folder if not received.

Resources and Downloadable Content

Register your interest in arranging a Palo Alto Networks POC (Proof of Concept). Palo Alto Networks will be in contact to discuss completing your POC application. Please check your junk folder if not received.

Request the latest demo video from Palo Alto Networks. In the video, you’ll get to learn more about how their solution is capable of meeting your requirements. Please check your junk folder if not received within 24 hours.

If you require pricing from Palo Alto Networks, please complete this form. Palo Alto Networks will reach out with a list of requirements in order to create your pricing. Please check your junk folder if not received.

Comparison

Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks - Core enterprise networking products

Core enterprise networking products

The heart of both company's enterprise products are next-generation firewalls available as both integrated appliances and modular chassis. The following table summarizes these network security products.

Fortinet

Chassis based:

FortiGate 5000 and 7000 series

High-end:

FortiGate 2000, 3000 and 4000 series

Mid-range:

FortiGate 100F, 200F, 400E, 600E, 900D

Entry-level:

FortiGate 30E - 80F (8 models)

Virtual firewall:

FortiGate-VM (models supporting 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32 and unlimited vCPUs with throughput form 12 Gbps to greater than 50 Gbps depending on hardware).

Cloud/VM environments

  • AWS
  • Azure
  • Google Cloud
  • Oracle Cloud

Hypervisors

  • VMware
  • Nutanix
  • OpenStack/KVM

Orchestration systems

  • VMware NSX-T, Nuage, OpenStack

Container support

  • FortiGate cloud connector supports container labels when defining security policies

OS:

FortiOS that integrates with the Fortinet Security Fabric to deliver a variety of security functions, operational controls and third-party services.

Uses custom NP7 and SoC4 security processors to accelerate firewall, VPN and IPS performance.

Ask Fortinet a question about their core enterprise networking products.

Ask Fortinet a question about their core enterprise networking products

Palo Alto Networks

Chassis based:

PA-7000 and PA-5450 series

High-end:

PA-5200

Mid-range:

PA-3200

Entry-level:

PA-220, -400, -800 series

Virtual firewall:

VM-series (-50 to -700 supporting from 200 Mbps to 16 Gbps App-ID-enabled firewall performance).

Cloud/VM environments

  • AWS
  • Azure, AzureStack
  • Google Cloud
  • Oracle Cloud
  • Alibaba Cloud
  • VMware vCloud on AWS, private cloud (NSX, ESXi, Hyper-V, OpenStack)

Container support

  • CN-series product for Kubernetes environments supports open source Kubernetes and AWS EKS, Azure AKS, Google Cloud GKE and Red Hat Openshift managed services. 

OS:

PAN-OS provides L7 visibility and control over network traffic and supports redundant HA environments. On top of traditional NGFW features, it includes inline ML analysis and protection, support for third-party IPS signatures, integrated IoT security and SD-WAN metrics

Uses multi-core CPU design that varies by model, although Palo Alto Networks does not provide details about the internal architecture. 

Ask Palo Alto a question about their core enterprise networking products.

Ask Palo Alto a question about their core enterprise networking products

Comparison

Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks - SD WAN deployment options

SD WAN deployment options

Both companies also offer several ways to deploy SD-WAN including as part of edge hardware (for branch and WFH locations), virtual appliances (for enterprise data centers and multi-cloud fabrics) and as a managed service provider either solely by the company (Palo Alto) or in partnership with a NaaS provider (Fortinet-Megaport solution). The following table outlines each company’s SD-WAN options.

Fortinet

Edge hardware:

FortiGate 40F, 60F, 80F, 100F, 200F each with unrestricted WAN bandwidth and IPSec VPN throughput from 4.4 Gbps to 13 Gbps

Wireless support via the FortiExtender 5G/LTE appliance which supports up to two SIMs and two wireless modems for a total of four wireless connections to a FortiGate firewall and SD-WAN network.

Cloud virtual appliance:

Fortinet Secure SD-WAN for Multi-Cloud

Managed Service:

Fortinet Secure SD-WAN and Megaport Virtual Edge (MVE) Solution combines Fortinet software with Megaport's global network of  230 cloud on-ramps and 700+ data centers.

Ask Fortinet a question about their SD WAN deployment options.

Ask Fortinet a question about their SD WAN deployment options

Palo Alto Networks

Edge hardware:

Entry-level NGFW hardware including the PA-220, --400, -800 series. 

Wireless support provided through partnerships such as the Cradlepoint NetCloud Service that combines wireless LTE and 5G endpoints with a managed service.

Cloud virtual appliance:

Prisma SD-WAN with CloudBlades for branch services like security and multi-cloud connectivity without needing to update the branch appliance.

Managed Service:

Prisma SD-WAN

Ask Palo Alto a question about their SD WAN deployment options.

Ask Palo Alto a question about their SD WAN deployment options

Comparison

Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks - Cloud-managed security products

Cloud-managed security products

As the previous section illustrates, the rise of virtual appliances and managed services has created a considerable overlap between product categories. As we detailed in our SD-WAN and SASE overview and SASE market guide articles (for example, this one covering NGFW and this on ZTNA), SASE has become the umbrella category for a suite of managed security services that splits the network data and control planes into edge hardware with Internet PoPs (data plane) and a cloud service and management interface (control plane). Both Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks deliver managed security services via a combination of SD-WAN and SASE products.

As a reminder, SD-WAN covers the physical and logical (virtual) interconnects and SASE is a compendium of security services, including NGFW, Secure Web Gateway (SWG), Cloud Access Security Broker (CASB), Zero-trust network access (ZTNA) with a management, logging and monitoring interface that sometimes feeds into a separate XDR (Extended Detection and Response) service.

The previous section covered the network, SD-WAN layer, the following table summarizes how Fortinet and Palo Alto compare in security services.

Fortinet

SASE services:

FortiSASE is a cloud-based service designed to secure remote users that is powered by and includes the security features of FortiOS.

Fortinet also offers most of these products as a la carte managed services (for example, FortiClient Managed Services).

Security and management features:

  • Malware prevention including zero-day protection against unknown threats using dynamic analysis in cloud sandbox environments (FortiSandbox).
  • Ransomware protection using behavioral analytics
  • IPS with encrypted traffic analysis
  • SWG filtering (FortiGuard Web Filtering Service)
  • Application controls using complex signatures to detect Web, DB and SaaS applications.
  • DLP
  • ZTNA that works with Microsoft AD, Okta and other identity providers.

Logging and analytics to help troubleshoot problems and incidents and perform compliance audits.

Ask Fortinet a question about their cloud managed security products.

Ask Fortinet a question about their cloud managed security products

Palo Alto Networks

SASE services:

Prisma Access, a comprehensive SASE product that works with Prisma SD-WAN and includes a connection client (GlobalProtect) supporting split tunneling and digital experience monitoring of end-to-end performance.

Security and management features:

  • NGFW as-a-service
  • SWG integrated with CASB to deliver URL filtering, threat protection, malware analysis (Wildfire), DLP and remote browser isolation
  • ZTNA with RBAC

Ask Palo Alto a question about their cloud managed security products

Ask Palo Alto a question about their cloud managed security products

Summary

The following charts illustrate each company’s SASE architecture and feature segmentation.

FortinetGraphic(USE)

PaloAltographic(USE)

Comparison

Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks - Consulting and advisory services

Consulting and advisory services

Both companies also have consulting and advisory services. These have become critical to organizations facing increasingly sophisticated and obfuscated threats, particularly those using vulnerabilities in the software supply chain like the SolarWinds and Log4j episodes.

Fortinet

FortiCloud SOC-as-a-service providing continual monitoring, detection, incident response, incident investigation and forensics, device management.

FortiGuard Labs Consulting to assist in developing and perfecting a security architecture, training and analysis and mitigation of particular threats.

FortiGuard global threat intelligence

Ask Fortinet a question about their consulting and advisory services.

Ask Fortinet a question about their consulting and advisory services

Palo Alto Networks (Unit 42 group)

Summary

Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks - SOAR offering

Both companies offer SOAR (Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response) products — FortiSOAR and Palo Alto Cortex XSOAR — for organizations running internal operations centers.

Summary

Conclusion and Recommendations

It is easy to see why Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks consider themselves to be fierce rivals since, as the following product summaries from their respective investor day meetings illustrate, they each have a comprehensive set of network security products and compete across every product line. Nonetheless, both companies were founded on firewall technology and NGFWs remain their strength, with each consistently ranked among the top network firewalls by analysts, product reviewers and buyers.

Fortinet2graphic(USE)

PaloAlto2graphic(USE)

Comparison

Fortinet vs Palo Alto Networks - Summary

Summary

Both Fortinet and Palo Alto have evolved their firewall OS and filtering software into a range of security products, including virtual appliances and managed cloud services. Given their maturity, with hardware to suit any installation, both should be on any organization's shortlist when evaluating firewall products. Although each enterprise will assess the strengths and weaknesses of Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks in light of their needs and priorities, based on customer comments and our research, we offer the following considerations.

Fortinet

Easy to deploy.

Broader product range, particularly suitable for SOHO, retail and WFH installations, including cellular LTE and 5G bridges for SD-WAN endpoints.

Three models of custom SoCs to accelerate network processing and increase hardware efficiency.

Customers report more pricing flexibility.

Ability to buy SASE components as individual products.

Consistently profitable financial position with accelerating revenue.

Ask Fortinet a question.

Ask Fortinet a question

Palo Alto Networks

World-class firewall technology.

Excellent integration with third-party management tools and APIs.

Aggressive adopter of cloud services with Prisma Cloud customer base growing 30 percent and usage 69 percent in the past year.

Broader SOAR and XDR offerings.

Full-featured, Internally-managed SASE product with more than 100 POPs in 77 countries.

Continued rapid growth, with positive operating income and free cash flow (FCF).

Ask Palo Alto a question.

Ask Palo Alto a question

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Company Performance

Top-Rated SD WAN & SASE Vendors

Cato Networks45
Cisco Meraki4.23.9
Cloudflare2.84
Forcepoint2.44.5
Fortinet34
Open Systems44.3
Palo Alto4.54.7
Versa Networks3.94.2
VeloCloud43.8
Zscaler2.84.5

(SD WAN rating : Cybersecurity rating)

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Market Statistics

Enterprise business market share - 2020 (%)

Fortinet5.9%
Palo Alto Networks7.8%
Cisco9.1%
Check Point5.4%
Symantec4.7%
Others67.1%