In this post we propose an ideal Cisco Umbrella alternative that you can implement at a fraction of the cost of Cisco Umbrella, yet still have excellent protection from web-based threats and precision Internet content control for your workforce.

WebTitan Cloud is the leading Cisco Umbrella alternative for SMBs and Managed Service Providers (MSP) that serve the SMB market. WebTitan Cloud is, in many respects, a direct swap out for Cisco Umbrella, and one that will save you a small fortune on DNS filtering costs.

What is Cisco Umbrella?

In 2015, Cisco acquired OpenDNS and rebranded the OpenDNS Umbrella solution Cisco Umbrella. Cisco Umbrella is first and foremost a DNS filtering service – A cloud-based security service that protects office and home workers from online threats by filtering DNS requests. The Cisco Umbrella DNS filtering service works at the DNS lookup stage of a web request, where a URL is translated into an IP address to allow the resource to be located by a computer.

Cisco Umbrella DNS filtering allows administrators to set controls governing the web content that can be accessed, the files that can be downloaded from the Internet, along with a range of other security features such as a cloud-delivered firewall, shadow IT protection, and tools to investigate cyber threats.

Before we cover the cost of WebTitan versus Cisco Umbrella in our Cisco Umbrella review, it is worthwhile taking a moment to explain why DNS filtering is now an essential part of the security stack and why you need to add this additional layer of security if you are not already using a DNS filter.

Why is a DNS Filter Necessary?

You will no doubt be aware that the internet can be a dangerous place. As an IT professional or SMB owner, you need to make sure that your employees do not venture into areas of the internet that could cause your business harm.

Even general web browsing can pose a risk of a malware infection or ransomware download, and employees can easily be tricked into visiting phishing web pages where credentials are harvested. These are very real threats that need to be mitigated.

Rather than leave things to chance and hope your employees obey the rules and recognize all threats in time, you can implement a content filtering solution such as a DNS filter. A DNS filter requires no hardware purchases nor software downloads. You just reconfigure your DNS and point it to the provider of your DNS filtering service and apply your content controls. A DNS filter will block access to malicious content an can be configured to block downloads of certain file types commonly used to install malware.

All DNS content filtering takes place in the cloud, there will be no latency, and filtering will take place without any content being downloaded. You can control the categories of content that can be accessed and, if rules are broken by employees, they will be directed to a block page and no harm will be done. You can run reports on web usage, apply controls to conserve bandwidth, and perhaps most importantly, you can prevent employees from visiting malicious websites and can block malware and ransomware downloads. Without this additional security layer, your business will be at risk.

Cisco Umbrella Review

In this Cisco Umbrella review we will cover some of the advantages and disadvantages of Cisco Umbrella and will present a Cisco Umbrella alternative that is ideal for SMBs and MSPs. The Cisco Umbrella alternative we suggest includes the most important features of the Umbrella DNS filtering solution, with some key advantages for SMBs and MSPs. First, let us consider some aspects of the Cisco Umbrella solution to save you time in your research.

Cisco Umbrella Pricing

Cisco Umbrella pricing is not particularly transparent. First, there is no Cisco Umbrella price list on the Cisco website, and while it is possible to get an idea of the Cisco Umbrella price from resellers via Google searches, their prices tend to be out of date. Cisco recently updated and renamed its three Cisco Umbrella offerings, and as part of the re-jigging of the packages and addition of extra features, the Cisco Umbrella price was increased.

Cisco Umbrella pricing is a little complicated and varies based on several different factors. Naturally the prices increase from the basic offering - DNS Security Essentials - to the most advanced version of the solution - Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Essentials, but also by the number of users, length of the contract term, and the optional extras that are added to the standard packages. It should be noted that standard Cisco Umbrella pricing only includes basic email support. More comprehensive support is offered as an add-on at an additional cost, and you will need to pay extra for software updates and access to online learning resources.

There is a Cisco Umbrella ordering guide that provides more information about what is included, the features of the solution, and a breakdown of each package to help businesses choose the most suitable version of the solution and select the extras they need. But if a Cisco Umbrella ordering guide is required, it gives you some idea of the complexity of Cisco Umbrella pricing.

Cisco Umbrella Licensing

As previously mentioned, Cisco Umbrella licensing is for three different solutions. These were initially called “Professional”, “Insights” and “Platform” but have recently been renamed “DNS Security Essentials,” “DNS Security Advantage,” and “DNS Secure Internet Gateway (SIG) Essentials.”

Cisco Umbrella licensing is based on the number of users and the minimum contract term is 1 year. In contrast to other DNS filtering service providers, with Cisco Umbrella you have to pay the costs upfront. You cannot spread the cost over the contract term with monthly billing, which makes the solution prohibitively expensive for many businesses, especially considering the cost of the SIG Essentials solution could be, with typical add-ons, in the region of $5+ per user, per month.

Is It Worth Paying the Cisco Umbrella Price?

We are not going to try to convince you not to look at Cisco Umbrella, as it is an accomplished DNS filtering solution that is suitable for many enterprises and SMBs. The product will certainly protect your business from web-based threats and will allow you to enforce your internet policies. However, there is a but. If you are already using Cisco Umbrella or have made enquiries about the solution, you will be aware that the product comes at a considerable cost.

Cisco Umbrella is not a one-size fits all solution. Cisco caters to a range of different customers, from small businesses to large enterprises and packages have been devised accordingly. The most basic offering is DNS Security Essentials, which is a bare bones DNS filtering package that blocks malware and ransomware downloads and allows you to enforce your Internet policies. However, there are many important features lacking that most SMBs will feel are important. For instance, now that most websites have moved over to HTTPS, connections to those sites are encrypted. You therefore need to decrypt, inspect, and then re-encrypt that traffic. The basic package does not include this feature - termed SSL inspection. That means those websites will be opaque to the solution and many malicious websites now have SSL certificates. Full decryption and inspection of all SSL traffic is only available in the top-level package. The mid-range solution only has partial decryption and inspection (for risky websites).

DNS Security Advantage is the second package offered, which provides more features such as greater insight for investigations, file threat intelligence, and  other tools. At the top end is the comprehensive Secure Internet Gateway Essentials package, which offers enterprise-grade DNS filtering with a host of features required by enterprises with a huge workforce. For most SMBs, the top package will offer a host of features that will most likely not be used. Unfortunately, the lowest level package is missing some important features that really are required by many SMBs.

What is the Cisco Umbrella Cost Per User?

So, how much does Cisco Umbrella cost? This is a key consideration for SMBs as they are likely to have limited budgets. They need to pay for several layers of cybersecurity to block the threats they are most likely to encounter. Spend top dollar on one solution and it is likely to mean less can be spent on other important security controls.

At the standard level, the Cisco Umbrella cost per user is $2.20 per month as of the start of 2021, which is considerably more than Cisco Umbrella alternative options such as WebTitan. For 100 users, Cisco Umbrella will cost $2,640 per year and that price only includes basic email support. If you opt for one of the more advanced packages, and we believe the middle package is the lowest level you should really consider due tot he lack of SSL inspection in the basic package, that price will increase considerably.

The standard price for a Cisco Umbrella alternative is around $1.00 to $1.50 per user per month, but here at TitanHQ we have a highly competitive pricing policy and can provide you with a Cisco Umbrella alternative for as little as $0.90 per user per month. That will save you $1,560 per year, based on 100 users compared to the basic Cisco Umbrella price.

There is More to Consider than the Cost of Cisco Umbrella Alone

Cost is not the only consideration, although it is certainly important. You will want to ensure that your DNS filter allows you to control content easily and it must provide protection against web-based threats. So, does opting for a Cisco Umbrella alternative reduce the protection you will get? Actually, you can pay less and improve protection, have an easier to use product, with better reporting, and less complexity.

At TitanHQ we have a totally transparent and flexible pricing policy and provide the same, high level of protection for everyone. All customers benefit from full SSL inspection to ensure that HTTPS traffic is inspected and analyzed, and all customers get industry-leading customer support at no extra cost.

WebTitan is also loved by users who rate it highly for ease of setup, ease of use, ease of admin, and for the quality of support provided. This can be seen on review sites such as G2 Crowd, as detailed below.

Cisco Umbrella alternative

The Leading DNS Filtering Solution for MSPs Serving the SMB Market

TitanHQ is the global leader in cloud-based email and web security solutions for MSPs that serve the SMB market. WebTitan has been designed to be ideal for MSPs and includes a host of features not offered by Cisco. In contrast to all packages of Cisco Umbrella, we offer a range of hosting options - with TitanHQ, in a private cloud, and you can even host the solution in your own environment, something that is important for many MSPs. You can also have WebTitan in white label form ready to take your own branding, another big plus for MSPs that is not offered by Cisco. The solution is also easy to integrate seamlessly into your own security and customer management solutions thanks to a suite of APIs. Onboarding new customers is simple and painless, and managing their web filtering settings is straightforward. All customers are kept separate in the solution and you can apply individual settings with ease, but you can still apply bulk settings to all customer accounts. Plus you can manage the solution securely from anywhere with an Internet connection.

Cisco Umbrella alternative for MSPs

Many MSPs are now making the switch from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan, with the most common reasons being the high cost of Umbrella, which has to be passed on to customers or absorbed. It can be a difficult sell with the high cost, even though the benefits of web filtering are usually understood by clients. The usability of the solution is also a common complaint, as is the quality of post-sales customer support and the lack of flexibility.

UK-based managed service provider Network Needs is one of the MSPs that has made the switch from Cisco Umbrella to WebTitan, and accurately sums up the experience of the many MSPs that have done the same. "When we decided to trial WebTitan we were happily surprised. Straightaway we dropped Cisco Umbrella and moved to WebTitan and it is impressing us every day," said Network Needs Technical Director, Ryan Lochhead. "WebTitan easily integrated into Network Needs existing service stack, avoiding any delays in offering the service. There is comprehensive remote management and monitoring via an API. Any MSP will benefit from WebTitan’s many advantages"

How Does WebTitan Compare to Cisco Umbrella?

WebTitan Cisco Umbrella Comparison Chart

Find out More About Our Alternative to Cisco Umbrella Today!

Our sales staff will be happy to explain the benefits of WebTitan over Cisco Umbrella and schedule a product demonstration to show you how easy the solution is to use and integrate into your own environment. If you would like to try WebTitan before committing, you can also take advantage of our free 14-day trial. For the duration of the trial you will have access to full product support to ensure you get the most out of the solution. For more information, give the TitanHQ team a call today.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Cisco Umbrella the same as OpenDNS?

Cisco acquired OpenDNS and rebranded the OpenDNS enterprise security products as Cisco Umbrella. Cisco Umbrella is not exactly the same as OpenDNS, but they do perform the same function, with Cisco Umbrella providing enterprises with greater control, more features, and better integration with other Cisco solutions.

Is Cisco Umbrella worth the cost?

Cisco Umbrella is a powerful web security solution that provides important security benefits and visibility into the Internet activity of all devices and users. While the threat protection is excellent, the cost of the solution can be prohibitively expensive for many small businesses, who can get the features they need from a solution at a fraction of the cost.

Who uses Cisco Umbrella?

While any company can benefit from Cisco Umbrella and improve security, the solution is aimed at mid-to large-sized organizations and includes many features that smaller businesses will not need or use. If you are just looking for a web security solution to control access to web content and block malware downloads, you will be able to make considerable savings with WebTitan.

Is Cisco Umbrella DNS Security Essentials worth the cost?

The features included with the cheapest package of Cisco Umbrella – DNS Security Essentials - are very limited. Businesses looking for the features provided by DNS Security Essentials will be able to get them and more – full SSL inspection for instance - with a Cisco Umbrella alternative such as WebTitan Cloud.

Is Cisco Umbrella a good choice for MSPs?

Cisco does provide Umbrella for Managed Service Providers and it is a good solution for protecting clients and preventing costly malware infections. While an accomplished product, the cost can be high for MSPs, especially those serving the SMB market and there is no option for hosting within an MSP data center and the solution will not be provided as a white label.