Overall Satisfaction with McAfee Firewall Enterprise
My former employer used McAfee Firewall Enterprise across the whole organization. The solution itself addressed the overall security posture of the organization, assisted in remote access of end users and provided other services such as SSO to onsite users. The control center appliance was also used to administer multiple installation points providing easier management for each location.
- Based on the SecureComputing Sidewinder firewalls, the McAfee Firewall Enterprise does similar backend containerization of each service which provides for added security in the unlikely event of failures or breeches.
- Tie in reporting services (if used by the admin) provide very granular details on rules accessed and the firewalls response to the requests.
- Configurable options are plentiful. Unbound DNS can be configured on each "burb" (SecureComputing/McAfee parlance for interface), similar options for sendmail while rulesets can be configured at the application level down to simple IP-filter making options for enhancing security as well as troubleshooting equally as useful.
- Full control over shell for scripting and/or scheduling (cron) purposes.
- Solid HA and patching architecture.
- Support was always helpful, knowledgeable and insightful (especially the staff that migrated from SecureComputing).
- For an application-layer firewall the applications supported (at the time I managed them) were too few and would need to be expanded and the application ruleset needed to be expanded as well.
- The remote access VPN client configuration was overly complex for the average user and would need to be supplemented with a configuration file that had already been generated. Other solutions from CheckPoint or Cisco ASA are not as complex for end user remote access.
- Enhancing the GUI with a builtin "packet capture" feature would be useful for administrators not familiar with tcpdump.
- In its highly available configuration the impact on any business objective has been positive given the fact that any downtime of the firewall would negatively impact all business objectives.
Compared to other firewalls I've managed (Palo Alto, Cisco ASA & CheckPoint) I would say that McAfee Firewall Enterprise was probably at the time not the leader in its field however it is a product that proved its reliability and flexibility over the other vendors. The addition of many new features usually comes as a detriment to some other area (restricted CLI, decreased logging etc.). In my experience this product gave the flexibility and options that the organization needed.
Any scenario where a dedicated firewall administrator is on staff and a secure firewall solution that requires high availability is needed will be a good solution for the McAfee Firewall Enterprise product. The McAfee Firewall Enterprise however comes with some of its own parlance that is different from other vendors and does require some comfort on the administrators side when it comes to working in the command line. Added knowledge of protocols and how they interact is a must for any firewall admin but particularly for the McAfee Firewall Enterprise product due to its flexible nature. If the environment is to be mostly hands off where a very limited rule set is to be configured and not likely to change often, I would defer to a different product.