Resellers can now order Nokia hardware platforms preconfigured and fully integrated with Check Point security software after the two companies announced a tightening of their strategic alliance this month.
The partnership, labelled the Power of 2, enables VARs to order any combination of Nokia and Check Point products preconfigured on the one box.
As a member of Check Point's OPSEC (Open Platform for Secure Enterprise Connectivity) program, Nokia's resilient platforms, particularly popular among the telco set, have supported Check Point applications, however the task of coupling the hardware and software has been the responsibility of the reseller or customer.
"Under this program Nokia's networking platform is no longer a general purpose-built machine, they're specific to Check Point applications," explains Check Point's regional director for Australia/NZ, Scott Ferguson.
He said the partnership makes it easier for channel partners to source a fully integrated solution from one point.
The deal has also created some valuable cross-pollination for the two vendor's partners. Check Point has now gained access to Tech Pacific's vast reseller entourage, with LAN Systems and Express Data also assisting with fulfilment and the provision of technical support and marketing. As a software specialist, Alstom IT will continue to sell the full range of Check Point software independently.
Meanwhile 12 resellers -- AlphaWest, Bearing Point, CDM, Contentwise, CSC, Data#3, Dimension Data, e-Secure, Gen-I, IBM, NetStar and Secure Data -- have signed up to the Power of 2 program.
Ferguson said Nokia will be doing the pre-configurative work due to its logistical set up and knowledge for handling hardware. It will sell the full range of Check Point's VPN-1/FireWall-1 solutions, including software product licences, software subscriptions and support offerings.
"It's an evolution in the relationship and the way [Check Point] goes to market," he said.
Ferguson believes the market is moving away from ASIC-based security appliances, such as those offered by Symantec, Cisco and Netscreen, as people recognise the limitations, in favour of pliable software-centric solutions.
"Netscreen and Cisco are essentially hardware vendors, they don't want to offer the customer too much choice in terms of scalability because the basis of their existence depends of hardware upgrades," he said.
By comparison, he said Check Point users can, for example, move between a Hewlett-Packard and a Sun Microsystems platform and have their license adjusted accordingly regardless of how far along they are in the licenses life.
"We recognise that in security especially you need to be flexible. You can't have a set solution for a set of challenges that keep changing," said Check Point's marketing manager, Imogen Boas.
Ferguson was also critical of Cisco's decision to leave the OPSEC alliance earlier this year, suggesting it leaves customers precious little means of testing the longevity and interoperability of its range by refusing to share APIs (application programming interface).
Meanwhile, Check Point realises that its own growth depends heavily on integration with hardware. Recent figures from IDC suggest that Check Point has topped the charts in Australia for VPN and firewall application sales, including those sold independently as software and those bundled with hardware sales.
This puts it a hair's length ahead of long-time stalwart Cisco which registered 32 per cent market share.
But as OPSEC loses one hardware partner it gains another, with thin client vendor Citrix taking full membership this month and bringing with it its valuable single sign-on technology.
Ferguson said single sign-on, which allows rule sets to be assigned to user groups specifying which applications and network areas they have access to, is highly compliementary to Check Point's security applications. Once the rule sets are established, only one password is required to open all of the specified areas.
"One of the best forms of security is not showing people what they don't have access to," said Ferguson.