Cisco Umbrella Pricing

If you have already made enquiries about web filtering with several different companies, you will no doubt have discovered that Cisco Umbrella pricing is considerably higher than most DNS filtering solutions on the market. Many Cisco Umbrella competitors offer broadly comparable DNS filtering solutions at a fraction of the price and you may be wondering whether the Cisco Umbrella price is worth paying. In this post we will explain why the price is so high and what you get for your money to help you decide whether the solution is right for your business.

What is Cisco Umbrella?

Cisco has taken several steps to enhance its security portfolio in recent years and one of the ways that has been achieved is through the acquisition of other companies. Cisco Umbrella is the result of one of those acquisitions. In August 2015, Cisco acquired OpenDNS, a company founded in 2006 to provide safe Internet access to business and personal Internet users.

Umbrella DNS was launched in 2012 as a cloud-delivered service that enforced security at the DNS layer to protect users from internet threats and control access to certain types of Internet content. The Umbrella DNS service proved popular and the name was retained by Cisco when the OpenDNS Umbrella DNS service was relaunched as Cisco Umbrella.

Cisco Umbrella is a DNS filtering and cloud-based Secure internet Gateway that protects users on and off the network from online threats before a connection to a website is established. The solution can also be used to control access to certain types of internet content.

Cisco Umbrella Pricing Plans

In contrast to many other DNS filtering solution providers, there is not a single price for Cisco Umbrella. Cisco Umbrella licensing is based on three different packages. Those packages have been developed to meet the DNS filtering needs of a wide range of organizations, from SMBs, to enterprises, and MSPs.

The Cisco Umbrella price differs considerably from package to package, as do the features. Each package includes the features of the lower packages with additional functionality. All packages offer protection from malware and other web-based threats along with content controls to stop employees from accessing certain categories of website.

The three packages are:

  • DNS Security Essentials
  • DNS Security Advantage
  • Secure Internet Gateway Essentials

DNS Security Essentials is the most basic DNS filtering package and provides a very limited set of features. This option is best suited to small businesses that have yet to implement a DNS filtering solution to protect against internet-based threats and enforce their internet usage policies. The solution includes content filtering by domain or domain category, and whitelists and blacklists. Users can also identify, and block shadow IT based on URLs. One feature notably absent from the DNS Security Essentials package is the ability to decrypt and inspect SSL – HTTPS – traffic. Most businesses have switched to HTTPS, but so too have many phishing websites.

DNS Security Advantage offers a wider range of features, with the package better suited to mid-sized businesses and those that require a greater protection from web-based threats. The package also provides deeper insights for investigations and access to Cisco Talos threat intelligence. This package also allows users to block C2 callbacks which bypass DNS and users can proxy web traffic associated with risky domains for inspection. SSL inspection is included for traffic with a selective proxy.

Secure Internet Gateway Essentials is the most powerful and feature-rich solution, best suited to large companies and those with advanced security and web policy requirements. This package includes the ability to proxy all web traffic for inspection, full SSL inspection, web filtering for URLs in addition to domains and category, use of the Cisco Threat Grid sandbox to analyze suspicious files, a cloud-delivered firewall, URL-based shadow IT discovery, and highly granular filtering controls, including the ability to block uploads, downloads, and posts for select apps.

For SMBs it can be difficult to determine which of the packages will be the best solution. There is a Cisco Umbrella ordering guide that explains the different elements of each package and explains the benefits of each and provides a comparison grid detailing the features provided by each of the packages. The Cisco Umbrella ordering guide is especially important for managed service providers, as it will help them to explain to their customers the different options available. There is a separate Cisco Umbrella ordering guide available specifically for Cisco partners.

Cisco Umbrella Pricing Per User

Cisco Umbrella pricing is not available on the website. In order to obtain the price for Cisco Umbrella you will need to contact the company, select the package you want, state the number of users, before you will be given the Cisco Umbrella pricing per user.

So how much does Cisco Umbrella cost? Based on a company with 100 users, you can expect to pay $2.20 per user per month for the basic DNS filtering solution. The price naturally increases with the different packages, and Cisco Umbrella pricing per user decreases incrementally as the number of users increases.

It is worth noting that the above Cisco Umbrella cost does not include support, which Cisco only offers as an add-on. That will need to be factored into the price, especially if you have limited on-site IT support.

Cisco Umbrella Cost vs Competitors

So how does the price of Cisco Umbrella compare to other DNS filtering solutions provided by competitors such as TitanHQ, Proofpoint, Barracuda, Symantec, and ZScaler?

Bear in mind that you may not necessarily be comparing like for like products, but all the features of the DNS Security Essentials package will be included in competitor solutions along with some – or in some cases many – features only included in the second and third tier Cisco Umbrella packages.

Many Cisco Umbrella competitor solutions are available in the $1-$1.50 per user, per month price range, although some solutions – WebTitan – are available at a price of $0.90 per user, per month – Considerably less than the Cisco Umbrella cost.

Can the Cisco Umbrella Price be Justified?

Cisco can certainly justify the Cisco Umbrella pricing policy, but many small businesses may find that the price is not worth paying as there are equally accomplished and more feature-rich DNS filtering solutions available that will provide an equivalent level of protection at a greatly reduced price.

Enterprises and mid to large sized companies may find the Secure Internet Gateway Essentials package provides a much higher and more appropriate level of protection, along with extra features not available in many competitor solutions. Plus, if you already use other Cisco solutions, Cisco Umbrella will integrate seamlessly which can save you many headaches down the road.

The key is to investigate the various DNS filtering options, compare the features provided by each, the ease of use and maintenance of the solution, customer satisfaction ratings, and the cost and make an informed decision before committing to any web filtering solution.

Cisco Umbrella Pricing FAQ

Other than the initial cost of Cisco Umbrella, what other factors should I take into account when comparing DNS filters?

While there is not a lot to choose between the capabilities of Cisco Umbrella and those of its competitors, one important consideration is the filter´s ease of use. Configuring the filter and organizing its user settings can be complicated; and, if your organization has to dedicate resources to manage the filter, that could be a significant secondary cost you have to add to the price of the filter.

What about the cost of Cisco Umbrella support?

The cost of Cisco Umbrella support is a percentage of the Cisco Umbrella price. Unfortunately it is often difficult to calculate how much this might be due the cost being “determined by many factors, including product complexity, software royalties, and market factors”. The concern is that the total cost of ownership of Cisco Umbrella may not be known until after you have committed to the solution.

What else should I be aware of when comparing Cisco Umbrella pricing?

One important consideration for many IT departments with tight budgets is the requirement to pay for Cisco Umbrella all up-front. With Cisco Umbrella licensing, there is no monthly subscription option for the filtering service nor add-ons such as support. This means that if you commit to Cisco Umbrella for a three-year term, under the terms of Cisco Umbrella licensing, you will have to pay the full amount of the cost upfront.

What else should I be aware of when comparing Cisco Umbrella against other solutions?

If your business is subject to data compliance regulations, it may be important to you where DNS requests are processed. Cisco Umbrella uses the AnyCast system to maintain 100% uptime, and what this means is that data paths are selected according to cost, the number of hops, and the least congested route. This means there is no guarantee data will stay in a specific region.

Reviews of Cisco Umbrella tend to be very positive. Would that justify a higher cost?

Reviews based on personal experiences can be a good guide for creating shortlists and eliminating web filtering solutions with negative feedback, but they should not be the basis of a purchasing decision as it is rare there is a one-size-fits-all solution. Our advice is to take advantage of the free trials offered by web filtering vendors to evaluate the filters in your own environment.