Check Point Eyes SMBs

The move, unveiled earlier this month, ultimately will revolve around a mix of new products and selling strategies for solution providers that serve businesses with 100 employees or fewer.

The new approach may lead to an expansion of Check Point's Valued Partner Program, said Kevin Maloney, vice president of worldwide sales at the Redwood City, Calif., vendor.

"We see the [SMB] market essentially as a greenfield opportunity for us," Maloney said. "This is an area we plan to pursue aggressively in the next few months, and we will make sure we have the right number of partners to cover this market and help us grow."

Check Point President Jerry Ungerman agreed, noting that Check Point's delay into the SMB space has enabled the vendor to sharpen its products and its target customers.

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"[The year] 2005 for us will be all about the SMB [market]," Ungerman said during a media event earlier this month. "For years we've specialized in large businesses. Now it's time to offer solutions for the small ones."

While Maloney and Ungerman declined to specify how many new partners the company would recruit, the duo did say most of the additions would be to the lowest tier of the company's four-tier partner program.

This tier, formally known as the Bronze level, currently has about 1,100 partners.

Maloney added that solution providers are cracking the SMB marketplace with Check Point's Safe@Office 100 and 200 series appliances--gateway security appliances designed for companies with up to 100 users.

In November, Check Point unveiled the Safe@Office 400W appliance for wireless environments, which also has enabled some solution providers to already tackle the SMB market.

"Check Point designed the Safe@Office products with the SMB in mind," said Marty McLean, vice president of sales at Safeguard Information Services, Scottsdale, Ariz. "Most SMBs do not have a security specialist on staff, so it is hard for them to handle updates on a firewall."

McLean incorporates the Safe@Office tools into a managed services offering. Other solution providers, however, prefer to sell the Check Point solution as a stand-alone box.

Peter Bybee, president and CEO of Network Vigilance, San Diego, said his company targets SMB customers with the Safe@Office tool then builds implementation, maintenance and consulting services around it to add value to the sale.

"The technology behind the solution is great [for SMBs]," he said. "What's even better is the opportunity for us to use it to establish a relationship sale."