Check Point Chief Touts Integrated Security Management Solutions

As Check Point Software continues to upgrade its entire product line to its recently launched NGX platform, which unifies management, company Chairman and CEO Gil Shwed sat down with Industry Editor Larry Hooper to discuss the security vendor&s channel efforts and its position in the fast-changing market. Here are excerpts:

CRN: Check Point in May introduced NGX, which unifies the management of all of your security offerings. What kind of response are you seeing in the market?

SHWED: It&s going very well, actually. About 10,000 people have licensed it or upgraded to it, so the reception has been going very well.

CRN: What has been the reaction from your channel partners?

SHWED: From what I am hearing, they are happy about it. The message of unifying security is a good message.

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CRN: Some Check Point partners said they feared that the company was losing technological ground to companies like Cisco [Systems] and Juniper [Networks], and that NGX was just the technological leap forward you needed.

SHWED: That&s good to hear. I think we have a real differentiator between what we do and Cisco and Juniper, and that is the fact that it&s architecture and not point products. Our strength comes from the architecture. On the one hand people want simplicity, but security is very complicated. NGX solves that.

CRN: While we&re on the subject of Cisco and Juniper, what separates Check Point from them? What is your differentiation in the market?

SHWED: We are the only one of the three that is focused on security. That is what we do. Our goal is not to sell more iron. That also means we have the architecture. It&s not that we have a bunch of point products, some of which may be good, some may be bad. What we have that is very unique is that we have one single architecture that integrates all of the security solutions. Now we have the broadest set of solutions. Cisco and Juniper are nowhere close. They have solutions that are not that deep, and they are also very narrow. You can build an entire security architecture around Check Point with single management, and it works.

CRN: When you talked to CRN about a year ago, you had just added about 400 partners in your effort to penetrate the SMB market. Where does that effort stand?

SHWED: We are keeping the focus on SMB. This year, we have increased the focus on the medium-[size] part of the business with what we call Express CI, Express with content inspection. This is the most comprehensive security solution for medium-size businesses with VPN, firewall, intrusion prevention and even antivirus is embedded into that. It is targeted at companies with 50 to 500 people.

CRN: If your focus is on the medium-size businesses this year, does that mean you are satisfied with where you are in the small-business segment?

SHWED: Not exactly. I am satisfied because I think we have the right products. Partnerwise, we have some good developments. But I think we can do more. I think we can have a much bigger impact in that space. We&re still at the tip of the iceberg there.

CRN: There is a lot of activity in the security space around network access. Cisco has its Network Admission Control initiative. Symantec is buying Sygate. And there are plenty of startups in the space. Is Check Point where it needs to be?

SHWED: We have very good access solutions and the only one that is integrated. Our IPSec VPN and SSL VPN are integrated with our security. With internal network access, I think we are by far the leader. Pretty much everything that Cisco says will be available two years from now we have had available for the last year. The real challenge there is that deployment of endpoint security within the enterprise is a very long process. Companies don&t like to add more stuff to their desktops.

CRN: In the general security landscape, is the typical corporation largely secure now?

SHWED: That&s always a yes and no. They are more secure in some places and less secure in others. The biggest challenge that all corporations face is building a security road map. The challenge today is that there are so many new technologies that companies need to sit down and determine their needs and build a road map that addresses those needs. It needs to be a constant investment. It doesn&t have to be a huge investment, but it has to be a planned investment. If companies do that, they can control their resources in a much better way.

CRN: So you are saying that we have to get companies to move beyond reacting to security threats and thinking further out. How do you do that?

SHWED: First, it&s education, and then it&s developing the methodologies for determining the road map. We have started to develop the methodology on which questions you should ask yourself to develop a road map.