In the first deal of its kind, networking giant 3Com (COMS) will allow software from firewall vendor Check Point Software Technologies (CHKPF) manage 3Com's NetBuilder firewall routers from Check Point's management console. The alliance aims to let corporate security officers easily create and manage multitiered security systems.
In addition, 3Com will ship an evaluation copy of Check Point's management console with every NetBuilder router sold, giving each vendor access to the other's customer base.
"I can't think of another instance of a company turning over the management interface to another company," said Ted Julian, an analyst with market research firm IDC. Most firewall management software is designed to drive sales of a vendor's own firewalls.
Brad Turner, 3Com product manager for the NetBuilder routers, said the deal will let corporate security managers easily implement a tiered approach to network security, creating multiple levels of security to deter hackers.
"CheckPoint has a very robust, mature firewall product with the lion share of the market. This deal gives us the ability to create a tiered environment with tightly integrated management," Turner said. "It utilizes the best of both worlds."
For 3Com, it also represents a belated move into the firewall space. Rival Cisco markets its PICS firewall, and since June Bay Networks has resold Check Point's firewalls and management software with Bay routers. Switch maker Xylan likewise bundles Check Point firewalls.
Check Point's management framework, called "Open Platform for Secure Enterprise Connectivity," is designed to integrate and manage all aspects of enterprise security, but it has worked exclusively with Check Point's FireWall-1, the top-selling firewall software. OPSEC gives corporate security officers a way to create and manage an enterprise-wide security policy that covers access control, authentication, auditing, accounting, encryption, and content control.
"Our management software is a key strength," said Check Point spokeswoman Emily Cohen. "Customers are asking to have multiple vendors managed from one location."
3Com will bundle the 3.0 version of Check Point's management console, due to ship next week, with 3Com's next major release of NetBuilder router software.
Market researcher Yankee Group reports that Check Point, which recently patented its "stateful inspection" firewall technology, commanded 44 percent of the worldwide firewall market in the first half of 1996.