Channel Best-Sellers: VPNs

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"The reality is that we invest significantly in technology and play fair with channel," said Marty Leamy, vice president of Americas field operations at Check Point. Leamy said Check Point's Jan. 1 rollout of Pure Advantage, a new channel initiative that rewards loyal partners with opportunities to add new business and increase profitability, has helped solidify its reputation as a go-to security vendor.

Neither has Check Point been snoozing when it comes to keeping its technological edge. The company is continually working and investing to enhance performance of VPN and other security technologies, with the help of longtime chip partner Intel Corp., according to Leamy.

"When it comes to our technology, we keep it fresh. We continue to make investments in our heritage and legacy products, and last year added a whole new segment, end-point data protection, that reflects the importance of this technology to our channel partners," Leamy said.

When Check Point moved to merge firewall and VPN about years ago, it was a bold move that other security vendors followed, and served as testimony to the vendor's leadership position in the industry, said Brian Haboush, vice president of business development at Intelligent Connections, a Royal Oak, Mich.-based solution provider.

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"Check Point has such a strong customer base, and they do a really good job of retaining that by continuing to enhance the features and function of their products, said Haboush. "They've been able to keep pace with client retention and have also seen some moderate new growth."

"In the end, it's really a whole ecosystem that exists of resellers, a large number of Check Point certified engineers, and decision makers within companies that are happy with what they've got," said Ken Phelan, CTO of Gotham Technology Partners, a solution provider based in Montvale, N.J. "Competitors have found some traction in people looking to lower security costs as a first priority, but Check Point still rules the roost."

Watchguard in 2007 had "tremendous growth", said Mark Romano, director of global channel marketing However, its VPN sales through distribution saw the biggest drop of any of the vendors in the segment. These figures could have been skewed somewhat by Watchguard's larger growth outside the U.S., during the period between 2006 and 2007, said Romano. In addition, Watchguard in 2007 made a concerted effort to promote and price its Firebox UTM line more aggressively, which may have affected distributors' reporting model, according to Romano.