Check Point's Top Brass Tout Channel Opportunities Of New NGX Platform

Check Point Software Technologies is nearing complete integration of its milestone NGX security management platform, and Chairman and CEO Gil Shwed and Vice Chairman Jerry Ungerman are already creating a buzz around the security vendor's new channel-only offering. Shwed and Ungerman shed light on how NGX impacts Check Point and its partners in an interview with Senior Editor Dan Neel at the Check Point Experience 2005 conference in Orlando, Fla. Here are some excerpts.

CRN: What is the major change that NGX brings to Check Point's strategy?

SHWED: We are addressing many more areas. Two years ago, the primary thing we would address is perimeter security. But today, we address internal, Web, end-point and branch-office security, which is part of the perimeter. What we are addressing now is a much broader market.

CRN: What's the biggest challenge in moving customers to NGX?

SHWED: Many customers still think about individual products and not about the whole security architecture. That's the shift that we all have to make. Partners should start with their customers and try to build a plan, step by step. Spend those few hours, or days or a month with customers building the security architecture, and then take the steps to implement. That's the main point of the conversation. Every reseller needs to develop what their customer needs. It's not always the same issues. For example, maybe one thing the customer would say they don't need is remote Web access. The challenge is how to prioritize the deployment of the entire architecture instead of saying what you need and what you don't need.

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UNGERMAN: From a channel standpoint, some [VARs] have just a focus on either the perimeter or another security area, a niche they have gone into customer sites and done historically. At the same time, they may have at their disposal many products in all those categories: Web, perimeter, etc. The challenge there is they have 10 different products from 10 different vendors, and 10 different management infrastructures. What we are doing for them is saying, 'Hey, you can go in and not only have this discussion for the need for multilayer security, but also now you can do it all with the technology from a single vendor.' We are simplifying the job of the partner. We are simplifying the number of interfaces he has to sell to customers. We are simplifying the amount of products he has to support and the marketing materials. And we are significantly lowering their cost of doing business. So now they can say, 'Hey, we can partner with Check Point. Now we can bring a much broader solution set to customers with a single security solution.'

CRN: What about new incentives for the channel to push NGX?

UNGERMAN: There is a very big incentive, and that's the revenue margin that partners get from selling the customer more Check Point solutions and renewing them and upgrading them. There are no other incentives you give them. There is so much margin available through selling the new products and solutions and wrapping services and support around it. It overwhelms any other little spiff you would do, or quarterly incentive. There is an awful lot of money the channel can and does make of packaging service and support around the products and selling a full security architecture, as opposed to point products. So I find that the channel is very motivated.

CRN: What are the plans to expand opportunities into the midmarket?

UNGERMAN: One of the things we changed a little bit is that in the first 10 years, Check Point was primarily in the enterprise market on a global basis, but yet we were not in all geographies. About 42 percent to 44 percent of our revenue was from America, 40 percent to 42 percent was from Europe, and 16 percent to 18 percent was from Asia. But we have now moved directly into the medium-scale business, the small-business and the consumer market spaces. In new markets, we are adding capacity and capability and putting Check Point people in place. We are recruiting partners for enterprise, medium and small [companies] and will rely on our distribution partners who have already locked up resellers to help us add even more partners.