Partners detail support for latest Check Point offering

Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. said it has lined up major hardware vendors to support the latest version of its VPN-1/Firewall-1, which started shipping this week.

Called Check Point NG (for Next Generation) the software is an overhauled version of Check Point's main product, its integrated firewall and VPN software.

Partners Compaq Computer Corp., IBM Corp., Nokia Corp., Sun Microsystems Inc. and others will support NG, and some of them said they would sell bundles that include the software.

Nokia, which makes hardware appliances specifically to support the software, said it is testing to make sure that its current hardware that supports earlier versions of VPN-1/Firewall-1 is interoperable with hardware equipped with NG. Nokia is also making sure current appliances can be upgraded to support NG, said Dan McDonald, vice president of Nokia Internet Communications.

Nokia will support NG as the standard software on its appliances in the fourth quarter, McDonald said.

Compaq will sell NG as part of its Compaq-Check Point Solutions Pack, a bundle of certain Compaq servers with Check Point's VPN and firewall software, said Jim Lester, Compaq's manager of eSecurity Solutions marketing for North America. The software will be loaded and configured for customers ahead of time, he said, and will ship on tower and rack-mount servers.

Lester offered examples of pricing. A Compaq DL320 server with the Check Point software loaded costs US$3,300; an ML330 costs $2,550; and a DL3205 costs $6,500. The bundles with NG will be available within 90 days, he said.

IBM said its eServer X series servers support Check Point firewall and VPN software, and that it is working on special programs involving NG that it will announce in the fourth quarter, according to Greg Young, a product manager for IBM.

The NG software includes a dashboard screen that includes three elements: a tree depiction of the network, a rule base for setting security policies, and a visual policy editor that creates a map of the network and depicts how policies affect network devices.

In addition, the software has an accelerator module, called Secure XL, that speeds up firewall and VPN functions, as well as improvements designed to ease PC connections to the VPN. These PC software improvements include checking that the PC is correctly configured before it is allowed to connect to the VPN, letting a central management station enforce client policies and locking out end users from tinkering with settings. This software can be configured by a network administrator and downloaded as an .exe file to remote PCs.

Check Point also said it has sold 100,000 copies of its VPN gateway software through the combined efforts of its partners and its own sales staff.

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