Check Point drills down with firewalls/VPNs

Check Point drills down with firewalls/VPNs

Just a few years ago, small remote offices relied on dial-up connections to the Internet. Now such businesses have local area networks (LANs) and high-speed connections and need solutions to enterprise-level security problems.

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"Security by obscurity no longer works," said Chip Schooler, senior product evangelist for Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. Check Point this week announced a new plan to gain traction in the firewall/virtual private network (VPN) market for small to medium-size companies.

Check Point is targeting small offices with its new SofaWare brand of products. For locations with less than 25 IP addresses, SofaWare Safe@Office and Safe@Home Pro give users virtually a plug-in-and-use firewall and VPN for starting at $399 that can handle five nodes and five tunnels. The product performs at 22 Mbps.

For slightly larger operations (25 to 50 IP addresses per site), Check Point is releasing an upgraded VPN-1/Firewall-1 SmallOffice NG, which can run on appliances or open servers. Starting at $999, SmallOffice NG also offers support for digital certificates and performance up to 178 Mbps. New features include broadband support and a new Web-based interface.

When considering the move into the small office market, Check Point needed to follow a few guidelines, Schooler said. The product needs to offer enterprise protection at an affordable price. The integrated VPN/firewalls also needed to be easy to install and manage so non-technical staff can use them.

The advantage of installing such a product at a business's gateway is that it eases the need to be concerned for the security of individual systems and devices, Schooler said.

The market for small to medium businesses is perhaps the fastest growing market for firewalls/VPNs, said Jason Wright, Industry Analyst, Security Technologies at San Antonio-based Frost & Sullivan. "But I think we'll see the market flattening out soon," he said.

In fact, the SofaWare products highlight a softening of the market as they start at $399 while comparable products sell for $600 to $900, Wright said. Competitors SonicWALL and NetScreen will probably follow-up with less expensive products as well, he said.

Virtually any vertical market from franchises like fast food restaurants to insurance companies have a need for such products, Wright said. Companies no longer have a headquarters where everyone works but have many disperse offices. "It makes a lot more sense to all use the same network, sharing resources," he added.

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