Check Point Looks To One-Up Palo Alto Networks With New VMware Partnership

Check Point Software Technologies has inked an expanded partnership with VMware around securing the software defined data center, the companies said Tuesday. The move fires back at rival Palo Alto Networks, which also has been building out its relationship with the vendor.

The most recent Check Point-VMware partnership builds on about six years of history between the two companies, integrating the Check Point vSEC network security with the VMware NSX platform. In doing that, customers get the benefit of advanced threat detection for east-west data center traffic, full automation and extended threat protection and visibility beyond the perimeter into the data center, said Itai Greenberg, head of product management for platforms, data center and cloud security.

The solution is available, effective immediately, and it already has been rolled out to more than 10 customers, Greenberg said.

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The market is changing, Greenberg said, and more customers are eager to make the jump to the software defined data center for the benefits of agility, automation and more. However, with that move comes new security challenges, he said, and a need to expand beyond north-south perimeter security into the data center itself.

"That is a great vision and this is what customers are moving towards, but then comes the question: How do I make it secure?" Greenberg said.

"Those customers that want to move into more software defined data centers understand that they need tighter security within the data center, not just on the perimeter," he continued.

Check Point isn't the only security company tackling this challenge. The new partnership goes head to head with a similar partnership between rival Palo Alto Networks and VMware. Greenberg said that "anything they do in their product, we do in our product," though he said it doesn't work both ways.

He said there is a key list of features that the new Check Point solution brings to the table that Palo Alto does not. He highlighted, in particular, Check Point's dual directional communication with VMware around threat detection and response automation, integration not only with NSX but also with the vCenter product, and more flexible privilege and policy management.

For partners, many of which are both Check Point and VMware partners, the launch means new opportunities to expand revenue sales through new product lines, Greenberg said. All customers looking to make the move to the data center will need a solution like this to fill security gaps, whether they know they exist or not, he said.

"For [partners], it's taking a one plus one equals three and selling a full solution for customers," Greenberg said.

Sean Curry, CTO and principal consultant at Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Cavalry Solutions, has been working with Check Point solutions since 1995. After trying the solution out, he said he finds the company's latest rollout to be "useful," providing more controls, as well as enterprise-grade security features, such as DLP.

Most importantly, Curry said the solution capitalizes on the move away from relying solely on perimeter defenses to driving security best practices deep into the data center.

"I think it’s a giant step forward for Check Point and the industry, in general," Curry said.

When comparing the solution to rival Palo Alto Networks', Curry said that both solutions had similar features, but Check Point had a leg up from an enterprise security perspective with a more centralized platform. He did, however, recognize that Palo Alto had a head start in the market, launching its comparable solution first, with integration into its next-generation firewall.

Curry said he "would recommend" the solution, especially for partners and customers already using Check Point solutions.