Check Point Opens Up

Firewall vendor Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP) has at last broken the silence on the identity of its first publicly announced carrier customer, as it gears up for battle in the cellular network security market.

The Israeli company -- regarded as the number one firewall player for enterprise networks in the fixed Internet sector -- dropped a clanger back in June when its plans to unveil a European wireless customer at a press event in London bombed with a last-minute no-show (see Check Point's Chary Customer).

A deal announced today with KPN subsidiary E-Plus Mobilfunk GmbH -- Germany’s second largest wireless carrier -- is less embarrassing for the vendor, with EMEA head of cellular David Aminzade stating that the installation of its Firewall-1 GX product “was done in about three days" (see E-Plus Picks Check Point).

Check Point’s firewall software aims to guard an IP-based mobile network against malicious attack, including such threats as over-billing (e.g., fraudulently adding premium-rate services to a subscriber's bill).

Aminzade claims Check Point now boasts 17 paying carrier customers worldwide, including six Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD) subsidiaries and two T-Mobile International AG operations. “We have one carrier customer in Africa, one in North America, one in Australia, one in New Zealand, and the rest are in Europe,” he tells Unstrung.

According to Aminzade, these names won’t remain silent for much longer either. “I think every customer in the next year will allow us to announce the deals. They are concerned about having their GPRS security problems revealed to the public but will turn it into a virtue in the future, saying they now have the most comprehensive security solution. We will have a good steady supply of customer announcements.”

Such bullish bloviation is certainly aimed to position the vendor ahead of rival offerings from the likes of NetScreen Technologies Inc. (Nasdaq: NSCN), and Check Point’s man modestly claims a 96 percent market share. “I only know of one other installation in the world where NetScreen has installed their product,” he says gleefully. [Ed. note: So who's got the 4 percent, then?]

Analysts have previously stated that the vendor is talking a good fight, but may struggle against the might of security products from traditional infrastructure vendors. Aminzade naturally disagrees.

“I can tell you that Nokia, Alcatel, and Siemens have no plans to enter this space, with Ericsson having an interest due to its shareholding in NetScreen."

— Justin Springham, Senior Editor, Europe, Unstrung
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