Firewall-as-a-Service: Ultimate Guide & Definition

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Firewall as a service (FWaaS) is a software-as-a-service (SaaS) cybersecurity offering for network security where a cloud firewall solution is provided by a vendor. Firewall services allow businesses to scale their security infrastructure, quickly increasing the number of systems and endpoints they protect.

Firewall as a service provides many security capabilities to organizations that need advanced protection for their storage systems and devices.

What is FWaaS?

How does FWaaS work?

FWaaS is a cloud-based firewall that can be used to remotely secure network access points and internal communications paths. As a ready-for-you service, FWaaS is the ideal solution for companies with little technical experience or those that can’t afford to deploy and maintain their own on-premises firewall solution.

Since FWaaS is a method of deployment rather than a type of firewall, the setup can be designed for a variety of firewall types, including traditional first-generation firewalls, next-generation firewalls (NGFWs), application-layer firewalls, and circuit-level gateways.

FWaaS is capable of the same functionality as software- or hardware-based firewalls implemented on-premises. Traffic inbound and outbound for a business network’s user devices, applications, and servers is routed to the firewall server where it’s monitored and scanned for malware, as well as suspicious and malicious activity.

Read more about how firewall as a service works.

How difficult is it to set up FWaaS?

FWaaS solutions, in terms of convenience, once more beat traditional software and hardware firewall solutions by being easier to set up. For most vendors, the setup process is as simple as logging into the service through the provided web panel on all devices and servers that need to be protected.

The login is the most time-consuming part of the setup process. After that, the process is fairly similar to on-premises firewall solutions, only from a centralized command center for the entirety of the network.

Through the FWaaS server, teams must determine the number of segments in their network and any internal locations that the firewall’s monitoring and scanning may be required. The configuration step follows, as the enforcement of policies is automatic and covers all the devices, applications, and users within the parameters of the network.

Since FWaaS solutions are designed for companies with little technical experience, the setup process is designed to be as easy and straightforward as possible, leaving any complex work for the hired services of the third party.

What are the features of FWaaS?

Comprehensive network and endpoint visibility

All incoming and outgoing network traffic is routed into the FWaaS cloud to be monitored, scanned, and logged, allowing for a centralized and comprehensive view of a network and its endpoints. Through an internet connection to the FWaaS web client, IT teams gain access to a single dashboard that enables them to oversee the entirety of the network’s traffic, including user and application behavior.

Most FWaaS providers allow IT teams to integrate the cloud with the organization’s SIEM or endpoint detection and response (EDR) solutions for more optimized security. Connecting multiple security solutions so they communicate reduces cybersecurity silos and helps teams better identify vulnerabilities throughout the entire infrastructure.

Centralized policy set up and enforcement

One of a firewall’s most critical features is determining and enforcing an enterprise network’s security and privacy policies on all devices and applications. These policies are the guidelines that define how the firewall should react to traffic that meets set criteria of dangerous or suspicious behavior.

The service’s central management dashboard can be used to set policies and deploy and monitor the operations of the remaining tools included in the FWaaS offering. Since a firewall service is an online solution that’s constantly connected to all monitored devices and applications of a network, any changes to the security policies are immediately enforced.

Integration with cloud and web services

Because FWaaS solutions are already delivered remotely through an internet connection, extending their radius to include your cloud tools and web applications and services is more streamlined compared to hardware and on-premises software.

Furthermore, they’re more flexible and are best integrated with other network security tools that are cloud-based, such as SASE, zero trust network access, and web application firewalls (WAF).

Zero-trust integration

Working with a cloud model means a FWaaS solution is capable of adopting a zero-trust framework. Through the centralization of the firewall online, a business’s zero-trust framework could be used to authenticate and validate the identity of all network users, applications, and devices before they’re granted access or communication privileges.

Zero trust alongside considerate network access control reduces the rates of latency and bandwidth use up in the network by limiting the overall and unnecessary access to network resources.

Learn more about implementing zero trust for business storage infrastructures.

Highly scalable

As a SaaS service, FWaaS solutions are highly scalable and require little to no technical preparation on the customer’s end. Simply increasing bandwidth and traffic filtering allowance with the FWaaS vendor should be enough to add anywhere from a few devices and accounts to new servers and applications to a network’s architecture.

Organizations can easily contact the service provider and increase capacity anywhere, from a few new devices to multiple servers, without needing to manually implement them into the infrastructure. This capability is especially important for a network security solution as it’s ill-advised to connect a new device, user, or application to a company network without extending the firewall to it.

Remote worker-friendly

The inclusion of devices and users that aren’t directly connected to a network is the biggest struggle of on-premises firewalls. FWaaS, however, can easily be extended to remote and hybrid workers accessing network resources through their own internet connections, whether it’s using personal devices or company-issue.

This capability is the reason FWaaS solutions are playing a big role in the cybersecurity landscape as more companies adopt more flexible work models that include remote, hybrid, and international options.

What are the differences between FWaaS and a firewall?

FWaaS is one of three types of firewalls when categorized based on the method of delivery with some overlap.

Software-based firewalls are security applications installed directly on network devices. They need RAM and CPU resources just like other applications on a network, but have established access privileges to the incoming and outgoing network traffic.

Hardware firewalls are dedicated physical devices that are deployed on the outer wall of the network and between critical points of traffic. They work in a nearly identical manner to software firewalls with all network links, switches, and routers passing through them. They pose a lower weight to the network’s resources and can be more easily deployed on a wider scale, making them more suitable than the alternative for organizations with large and complex network structures.

FWaaS solutions are virtual firewalls or software that’s hosted by a third-party provider on a remote server that they own and maintain, but lease out to organizations as a security SaaS solution. Unlike firewalls deployed traditionally, FWaaS doesn’t use up any of a network’s CPU and RAM resources and can be scaled to cover any change in the number of devices added to or removed from the network.

See more: Why is Firewall-as-a-Service (FWaaS) Important?

FWaaS providers

The following firewall service providers help enterprises process network traffic more effectively and detect threats that could compromise the organization’s stored data.


Zscaler is a cloud and network security company based in San Jose, California. It offers a variety of cloud-based services that enable businesses to employ zero-trust solutions to boost security, flexibility, and resiliency.

The Cloud Firewall solution by Zscaler is a FWaaS offering that allows users access to fast and secure internet and inner-network connections through the monitoring and scanning of user and application traffic.

It doesn’t require teams to have any dedicated in-house hardware to access the services, as it’s available through a remote access portal.

In 2022, Zscaler was appointed a Leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant for Security Service Edge (SSE).

Versa Networks

Versa Networks is a security, networking, cloud, and analytics services provider based in Santa Clara, California. It aims to help large enterprises to elevate their networks for more efficient management and achieve business advantages and growth.

Versa Networks’ Next-Generation Firewall-as-a-Service (NGFWaaS) is part of the Versa Security Access Service Edge (SASE). It protects the micro and macro segmentation in a network, in addition to protection from threats on the inside and on the outer border of the network.

In 2022, Versa SASE won the Global Infosec Award for the Best Solution in the Network Security and Management category by Cyber Defense Magazine.

Perimeter 81

Perimeter 81 is a network security provider that focuses on modernizing security through the zero trust architecture. It’s headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel. Businesses that want granular access control and zero trust segmentation for their networks should consider Perimeter 81.

Perimeter 81’s firewall as a service allows teams to segment Layer 3 and Layer 4 OSI traffic, determined by group or user identity. Administrators can isolate dataflows and create highly detailed access policies. Perimeter 81 also offers bank-level, mutual TLS encryption and client and endpoint visibility so businesses can see where traffic originated.

In 2021, Perimeter 81 was named as a Forrester New Wave leader for zero trust network access.

Why should you implement a FWaaS solution?

Outsourced technical expertise

Deploying, running, and maintaining a firewall solution on-premises requires a lot of technical expertise to be available on the spot, a feat that many small companies and non-technical startups don’t have the resources or budget to implement.

FWaaS solutions enable teams to outsource all the work needed to run and maintain their network security solutions to the vendor’s qualified team of IT and security experts. This also ensures the IT staff are trained to work with the specific cloud firewall solution, and not just general security expertise.

Elevated security standards

Using a FWaaS network security solution instead of a legacy one means adopting the security and privacy standards of the vendor. Leasing the services from a credible cybersecurity company with credible security practices and certifications transfers that expertise to the company network.

This can be advertised to win the trust and confidence of clients and business partners. In some cases, strict security standards may be needed to operate in certain industries, including financial services, healthcare, and pharmaceuticals.

What’s the size of the FWaaS market?

The global FWaaS market was estimated to be valued at $1.26 billion in 2021, and it is projected to reach $2.86 billion by 2027, at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 14.68% over the analysis period.

Bottom line

Opting for legacy firewall solutions is still widely in use, especially for larger corporations with the budget and resources to hire a team of expert cybersecurity and IT professionals. But small or medium-sized enterprises that don’t have the personnel or finances to upkeep a major network security solution should consider firewall services.

FWaaS solutions have features and advantages that differentiate them from their traditional on-premises alternatives. Organizations that need advanced services for their network protection should consider a FWaaS offering.

Is your organization considering a firewall as a service solution? Read about major FWaaS providers next.

Anina Ot
Anina Ot
Anina Ot is a contributor to Enterprise Storage Forum and Datamation. She worked in online tech support before becoming a technology writer, and has authored more than 400 articles about cybersecurity, privacy, cloud computing, data science, and other topics. Anina is a digital nomad currently based in Turkey.

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