Open-Source SmoothWall Looks To Build Commercial Security Business

SmoothWall, a security vendor headquartered in Leeds, England, that began as a free open-source project, is looking to expand its commercial business via the channel.

SmoothWall got its start in 2000 as a general public license (GPL) project when several programmers, including Lawrence Manning, who remains on the SmoothWall development team, decided to create a free firewall program for PCs. SmoothWall, as the firewall was named, quickly took off, and the project itself also grew rapidly. In 2001, members of the project team decided to build a formal company around the product, also named SmoothWall. Soon after, the software maker decided that in addition to its free firewall product, it would also create commerical firewall and security products, such as SmoothWall Corporate Server and SmoothWall Guardian, a Web-filtering application.

Today, the company is looking to capitalize on the popularity of its free SmoothWall Express firewall and build a stronger presence in the commercial-security market to go head-to-head with leading vendors, such as Symantec. The company launched an international partner program in August and signed up 40 resellers worldwide in the first two months.

George Lungley, CEO of SmoothWall, says the U.S. market represents a huge a opportunity for his company because of the growing importance of corporate security solutions.

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"To get the adoption we wanted, we knew we had to go through the reseller channel," Lungley says. "The most noticeable growth we've seen in the last year has been in the U.S."

Lungley says SmoothWall's products are well-suited for the SMB market because of the software's flexibility and competitive price points. As for its open-source nature, Lungley says resellers need not be experts in Linux or open-source software.

"We've got around 200 resellers worldwide today, and it's a pretty diverse community," Lungley says. "Some partners have a lot of experience with open source, and some have very little. If you go on our site, you won't see any penguin logos or anti-Microsoft messages. We just feel open source is the right tool for our products."