Fortinet vs Cisco

This blog is intended to provide the information on business insights of Fortinet and Cisco. Cisco Systems was established in 1984 and went public in 1990. Cisco reported $15.5 billion in revenue for the third quarter of 2018. Cisco offers a plethora of networking product lines, many of which are the result of acquisitions throughout the years. Identity Services Engine (ISE), different firewall services, wireless intrusion prevention (WIPS), and VPN solutions are among Cisco's security features. Cisco APs can be set up to work alone or in conjunction with a controller. Meraki's product line includes cloud services.

Cisco's Top Five Beaters

1. Expensive Solution

Cisco products necessitate a high level of operational overhead and a large number of licences. Cisco requires license to administer their APs with any of their controllers, and in some situations, licences for specific functions. As a result, wireless solution ASPs have been around 20-30% more than a competitive Fortinet quote. Customers that simply compare pricing at the hardware level may experience sticker shock as a result of this. 

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2. Bolt-On Security 

Cisco isn't a security company, and the majority of their security offerings are acquired and "bolted on" to their core networking product. As a result, compared to the Fortinet solution, there is less protection and integration.

3. Increased Management Overhead 

Cisco does not provide an easy way to handle all of their solution's components. While they've created Digital Network Architecture (DNA) to address this, it comes with higher expenditures and (at least for the time being) restricted support for the entire portfolio. The FortiGate UI from Fortinet manages all access layers as well as security in a single interface, resulting in a faster ramp time and lower TCO.

4. Limited Flexibility in deployment 

While Cisco does provide a cloud controller via Meraki as well as standalone administration, users must decide which option is best for them up front and are then locked into that decision. Moving to or from their cloud architecture later on is expensive, as it necessitates the creation of all new AP SKUs. Fortinet has a series of universal access points that may be utilised with any of our management systems. A customer who decides to switch management choices incurs no additional cost or inconvenience because there is no need for a licence or reconfiguration. 

5. Location Analytics Are Not Available For Free

Customers do not have access to a free tier of Cisco's location analytics product. This hinders the majority of customers from seeing the benefit that location analytics may provide.

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Why Fortinet? 

1. Fortinet Secure Unified Access 

The Secure Unified Access Solution was created by Fortinet to address security protection against data breaches and cybersecurity threats at the access layer.

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2. Fortinet Security Fabric 

The Security Fabric from Fortinet is a comprehensive solution that includes:

  • Protection and visibility throughout the digital assault surface. In multi-cloud setups, siloed apps make it much more difficult to respond to attacks. Across all devices and applications, the Security Fabric provides real-time visibility.
  • Advanced threat detection and response are integrated. The Security Fabric improves communication between all of the company's security systems, reducing detection and remediation times.
  • Through a single console, operations and analytics may be automated. Firms must detect attacks faster in the face of today's complex threats. You can coordinate automatic reactions and cleanup to threats discovered anywhere across your extended network using the Security Fabric.

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3. Secure Solutions In A Wide Range: 

Universal APs: This set of access points is compatible with any management system.

  1. FortiGate Integrated Wireless: FortiGate provides a comprehensive solution that includes security and wireless LAN administration.
  2. Cloud Managed: Using the Fortinet cloud, you can manage your wireless network from anywhere.
  3. Dedicated Controller Wireless: With various deployment choices and unique RF capabilities, a wireless network solution using a dedicated WLAN controller is possible.

The Priorities Of Cisco's Target Account (Who They Target) 

Cisco's wireless LAN strategy targets both large and small businesses, as well as service providers, horizontally. They have the best success selling to accounts that aren't price sensitive and are open to Cisco's one-stop shop concept. Be aware that you may be dealing with many Cisco product portfolios rather than simply one. Meraki, SMB solutions, Mobility Express with embedded controller features, or the corporate solution with a real or virtual WLC are all options. Each has its own set of features and pricing range. 

Going On The Offensive Against Cisco Setbacks

To cope with the increased bandwidth and features, Cisco had to discard the access points' IOS® code, which necessitated extensive rewriting and stabilisation work. In all modes, including FlexConnect and Mobility Express, it still has a large number of unfixed problems and lacks feature parity. The next generation of controllers will also be built on entirely new code (APIC-EM and elastic controllers), which will take years to perfect. Customers are well aware of this and are cautious of it.

  1. Cisco Weakness: For protection against developing threats, Cisco security for access incorporates a number of different products or solutions, including Stealthwatch, TrustSec, ISE, and Talos.
    How to Attack It: Position Fortinet Secure WLAN as a top-of-the-line wireless solution incorporated into a world-class security fabric.
  2. Cisco Weakness: Branching is not supported by Cisco Aironet. Meraki's solution is positioned for small to medium branch sites. Meraki's cloud solution is based on a subscription model, which means that if your subscription isn't renewed, your devices will stop working.
    How to Attack It: Customers should be aware that Cisco and Meraki offer two separate product sets with non-unified management.
  3. Cisco Weakness: Customers must choose a management topology up front, which limits flexibility in Cisco architecture. Obtaining a complete feature set for guest management necessitates Cisco infrastructure, which may necessitate significant CAPEX investments or costly updates.
    How to Attack It: In the access, control, policy, and application levels, emphasise the versatility of Fortinet's portfolio.

Feature Comparison Defending Against Cisco Sales Tactics

  • What They Will Do: Make the claim that Fortinet's technology is proprietary, expensive to implement, and difficult to manage.
    How to Respond: The Wi-Fi Alliance has verified all Fortinet infrastructure products as meeting industry standards. Fortinet APs support all common enterprise settings. Our Virtual Cell technique is a non-disruptive approach (Cisco doesn’t provide this service) that does not add to the complexity of management.
  • What They Will Do: Position security as a key attribute and differentiator of Cisco’s WLAN solution. 
    How to Respond: Only Fortinet offers enterprise-grade encryption and authentication, per-user and per-application security rules, VPN for remote offices, threat and rogue detection and mitigation, and wireless intrusion detection.
  • What They Will Do: Full-fledged network access control with posture assessment is pushed, including the ability to refuse access depending on device attributes.
    How to Respond: NAC posture evaluation is a more complex variant of NAC that most customers will find difficult to implement, and adoption rates are low since ISE is time-consuming and costly. Cisco understands that the majority of clients demand simple guest access and BYOD onboarding, which FortiNAC provides with complete third-party support, including Cisco.
  • What They Will Do: Declare that they have the most comprehensive wireless portfolio available for any wireless application.
    How to Respond: Without the requirement for distinct SKUs for cloud vs. standalone management, Fortinet's portfolio supports the same number of use cases. FortiPresence now has a lot more features than CMX, and virtual wireless LAN controllers and the cloud are now a reality at Fortinet.

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Comparison Of Features: 

  • Wi-Fi infrastructure is provided by both Fortinet and Cisco for multivendor client environments.
  • FortiNAC ensures BYOD security with no bloatware connectivity solution, competitively priced, marketproven. E.g., endpoint policy enforcement, MDM, NAC, multiple subscription licenses. The BYOD security will be Cumbersome and ISE is expensive for Cisco.
  • Co-channel interference is managed through wireless virtualization, and channel layering is supported, allowing for higher client capacity that is supported in Fortinet but not in Cisco.
  • Options for a virtualized controller and management suite (private cloud solutions) are offered by both Fortinet and Cisco.
  • Fortinet and Cisco both provide ultra-high density designs with a 160 MHz channel.
  • The Fortinet ARRP and Cisco  RRM supports RF management.
  • Fortinet FortiWLM supports proactive network health visibility, analytics, and synthetic testing for onsite and remote wireless service assurance and Cisco is developing it as the future scope based on cloud.
  • Improved analytics and location, social Wi-Fi integration are offered in Fortinet FortiPresence and Cisco CMX.
  • Spectrum intelligence with visibility of Wi-Fi and non-Wi-Fi interferers are provided by both Fortinet and Cisco.

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Through this blog, we have analysed Fortinet and Cisco through comparisons made on security, solutions, features, etc.

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Saritha Reddy
Saritha Reddy
Research Analyst
A technical lead content writer in HKR Trainings with an expertise in delivering content on the market demanding technologies like Networking, Storage & Virtualization,Cyber Security & SIEM Tools, Server Administration, Operating System & Administration, IAM Tools, Cloud Computing, etc. She does a great job in creating wonderful content for the users and always keeps updated with the latest trends in the market. To know more information connect her on Linkedin, Twitter, and Facebook.