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Are You Ready For Another Two-On-One Review and Rating Match-Up?

In this corner, we have Cisco Systems, an American multinational technology conglomerate, headquartered in San Jose, California and creator of two heavyweight power products; FirePOWER and Virtual Next-Generation IPS (NGIPSv) for VMware.

In the far corner, their opponent, from Cambridge, the United Kingdom, global enterprise-grade Artificial Intelligence giant for cyber defense and modeled on the human immune system with over 7000 deployments worldwide; Darktrace.

A Little Back History From Both Cisco Systems and Darktrace


Cisco’s FirePOWER bills itself as a next-generation firewall and is the industry’s first fully integrated, threat-focused next-gen firewall with unified management. It uniquely provides advanced threat protection before, during, and after attacks.

Cisco describes FirePOWER hardware solution as, “An integrated threat defense. Covering before, during, and after an attack. It integrates proven security capabilities of the Cisco ASA Firewall with industry-leading Sourcefire threat and advanced malware protection features in a single device.”

Cisco’s Virtual Next-Generation IPS (NGIPSv) for VMware is the virtual solution that Cisco has developed parallel to Cisco FirePOWER, and how Cisco markets NGIPSv. “Cisco NGIPSv for VMware addresses the risks posed by virtualization by enabling you to deploy Cisco’s leading NGIPS solution within your virtual environments.”

Cisco describes NGIPSv for VMware as having:

  • Industry-leading threat protection
  • Real-time contextual awareness
  • Full-stack visibility
  • Intelligent security automation


Darktrace, on the other hand, promotes itself as a global artificial intelligence company for cyber defense. Recognized for its Enterprise Immune System technology, Darktrace uses self-learning AI to identify and respond to in-progress cyber-threats.

Employing proprietary machine learning and Artificial Intelligence algorithms, Darktrace’s Enterprise Immune System builds a so-called “pattern of life” for every network, device, and user within an organization. From Darktrace’s evolving understanding of ‘normal,’ it can then detect potential threats as they emerge in real time. It does not rely on rules, signatures, or prior assumptions of known risks, because it is a self-contained system.

Who Produces The Reviews and What Is Covered?

The reviews cover Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IPS) software. The reports produced come from the leading research and advisory firm known as Gartner. Which is a $3.9 billion-dollar S&P 500 company, serving over 15,000 companies in over 100 countries worldwide. The markets they serve are:

  • Customer Service & Support
  • Finance
  • Human Resources
  • Information Technology
  • Legal and Compliance
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Product and R&D
  • Sales
  • Strategy
  • Supply Chain

What is Intrusion Detection and Prevention Systems (IPS) Software?

The network intrusion detection and prevention system (IDPS) appliance market, made-up of stand-alone physical and virtual appliances. The virtual or physical devices can inspect defined network traffic in the cloud or on-premises.

Their location is often in the network to inspect traffic. Traffic which has passed through perimeter security devices, such as secure:

  • Firewalls
  • Web gateways
  • Email gateways

IDPS devices are deployed in-line and perform full-stream reassembly of network traffic. And they provide detection via several methods — for example:

  • signatures
  • protocol anomaly detection
  • behavioral monitoring
  • heuristics
  • advanced threat defense (ATD) integration
  • threat intelligence (TI)

When deployed in-line, IDPSs can also use various techniques to detect and block identified attacks with high confidence; this is one of the primary benefits of this technology. Next-generation IDPSs have evolved in response to advanced targeted threats that can evade first-generation IDPSs.

What Are The Overall Review Ratings And Comments?

Cisco had 38 reviews. With an overall rating of 1 to 5 with five being the highest, Cisco scored a 4.0

Top Ten Cisco Comments:

  • Effective at blocking threats; terrible visibility and awful bug-fix support
  • Needs improvement
  • Foundation is good, but release management of new code lacks
  • Implementation was a SNAP, while provided visibility need for a secure environment!
  • Many great features but some issues when scaling
  • Delivered End-to-End Ecosystem, Requires Professional Services
  • Functionality is fair, but performance requires continuous monitoring.
  • The perfect solution for URL filtering and Malware detection
  • FirePOWER is a great solution but must consider having the right person to manage it
  • Outdated feature set

Darktrace had 27 reviews. With an overall rating of 1 to 5 with five being the highest, Cisco scored a 4.7

Top Ten Darktrace Comments:

  • Darktrace – A true force multiplier!
  • Most impressive security tool we have implemented in the last 12 months
  • Reluctant start, but we experienced immediate gains and adoption in our organization.
  • The product detects anomalies other tools don’t provide you an enterprise correlated view
  • Darktrace was proven the day I met the Sales team following 30 days of the on-site learning phase.
  • Great product but felt like buying from a used car salesperson with high-pressure
  • One of the Foundations of our Security Strategy
  • My Darktrace experience was exceptional.
  • You will be amazed!
  • Darktrace is a top-notch solution for threat hunting

What Are The Top 2 Favorable User Reviews?

  • Cisco – “Thanks to the Cisco Support, we have deployed a solution answering all our requirements.”
  • Darktrace – “A real force multiplier!”

What Are The Top 2 Critical User Reviews?

  • Cisco – “Effective at blocking threats; terrible visibility and awful bug-fix ”
  • Darktrace – “There were no critical reviews at this ”

What Was The Customer Overall Experience?

In this section, there were seven categories rated. The results are below:

  1. Evaluation & Contracting:

Cisco Reviews 32 / Rating 4.1 | Darktrace Reviews 25 / Rating 4.5

  1. Pricing Flexibility:

Cisco Reviews 33 / Rating 3.8 | Darktrace Reviews 25 / Rating 4.4

  1. Integration & Deployment:

Cisco Reviews 38 / Rating 4.1 | Darktrace Reviews 27 / Rating 4.7

  1. Ease of Deployment:

Cisco Reviews 38 / Rating 3.9 | Darktrace Reviews 26 / Rating 4.6

  1. Service & Support:

Cisco Reviews 3 / Rating 3.6 | Darktrace Reviews 8 / Rating 4.6

  1. Timeliness of Vendor Response:

Cisco Reviews 35 / Rating 4.0 | Darktrace Reviews 24 / Rating 4.7

  1. Quality of Technical Support:

Cisco Reviews 36 / Rating 3.8 | Darktrace Reviews 24 / Rating 4.8

In this category, Cisco did drop below 4.0 in four of the seven categories where Darktrace did not.

What Was The Reviewer’s Demographic?

In this section the reviewer’s industry’s per product were:

  • Cisco – Finance, Education, Services, Manufacturing, Energy, and Utilities
  • Darktrace – Finance, Manufacturing, Government, Education, Energy, and Utilities

What Was The Size Of The Companies Based On Annual Revenue?

Both Cisco and Darktrace together attracted:

  • Companies where annual revenue was less than $50 million in USD and as high as $10 billion.
  • Gov’t/PS/ED of less than 5,000 employees.

Cisco alone attracted:

  • Companies where annual income starts at $10 billion in USD and exceeds $30 billion.
  • Gov’t/PS/ED of 5,000 – 50,000 employees.

What Was The Overall Peer Rating?

In this final section, there are three last categories sum up the entire review.

  • Overall Peer Rating

Cisco – 4 Stars / 38 Reviews | Darktrace – 4.7 Stars / 27 Reviews

  • Willingness to recommend

Cisco – 69% Yes / 36 Reviews | Darktrace – 89% Yes / 27 Reviews

  • Product Capabilities

Cisco – Rated 4.3 / 38 Reviews | Darktrace – Rated 4.8 / 27 Reviews

Summing It Up

After reading through the report, there is a lot to digest. But one product stood out a little better and slightly more customer service friendly. But with all Comparison/Reviews/ Rating articles, your mileage may vary.

Like this article? Check out, Think You Know All You Need to Know About AWS? Think Again! (Questions/Answers) and 5 Non-Technical Guidelines Helps Describe Software Defined Networking or What You Need to Know about Networking Companies in Southern California to learn more.