Check Point, Nokia to co-develop security

The firewall maker tightens its partnership with Nokia Internet Communications in hopes of creating better security for mobile devices.

Firewall maker Check Point Software and communications giant Nokia have expanded their alliance and will co-develop security technology for mobile and Internet applications.

The move, announced Wednesday, is the culmination of a four-year working relationship in which Nokia Internet Communications has used Check Point's software in its firewall and virtual private networking (VPN) products.

"Instead of working as partners, we are going to co-develop things now," said Jerry Ungerman, president of Israel-based Check Point. "This is going to expand our relationship significantly."

The move is a major shift from a widening rift between the two companies that had developed over the past 12 months, said Chris Christiansen, a security analyst with market researcher, IDC.

"There (are) some real powerful players already in the marketplace, and there are really powerful players entering the marketplace," he said. "Nokia and Check Point need each other to keep doing well."

Finland-based Nokia is the No. 2 maker of firewall/VPN products with about 22 percent of the market--half the share of No. 1 Cisco Systems, according to IDC.

With the partnership, Nokia and Check Point will discuss the direction of their future research and harmonize their efforts, said Dan MacDonald, vice president of product management for Nokia Internet Communications.

"We want to make sure our product line and offerings are the strongest in all areas, especially mobile," he said.

Nokia has made a broad push into mobile security, including allowing customers to bank by phone. Meanwhile, Check Point--through its previous relationship with Nokia--is the leading maker of firewall software.

Nokia customers should see more security features show up in products fairly quickly.

Nokia's Internet appliance clustering technology, which allows groups of firewall and VPN appliances to band together to improve performance and reliability, will be integrated with Check Point's firewall software and then shipped in Nokia products by March, the companies said.

Nokia also plans to leverage the partnership to boost its role in mobile security.

"The market is evolving from large-packet traffic to small-packet traffic and from long-term connections to short-term connections," said MacDonald. "Short-connection time, small packets are what the mobile Internet space is all about."

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