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August 14, 2005

WatchGuard adds SSL application security appliance

Firewall vendor WatchGuard Technologies Inc will today make its first move into the stand-alone application appliance market with a firewall built around the Access Gateway SSL VPN system produced by Citrix Systems Inc.

By CBR Staff Writer

The first of what is expected to be a series of appliances optimized for specific applications has been branded the Firebox SSL Core VPN Gateway. The unit is designed to secure always-on connectivity to any business applications from any internet access device, the company said.

It is launched at a price point designed to appeal to small organizations that want to secure access into corporate applications by remote workers. It connects authenticated users through an auto-updating, web-deployed client that is said to remove the need for applications to be web-enabled before they can be accessed across internet channels. It does not call for the installation of application connectors.

Citrix Access Gateway has been used for some time to provide an always-on secure access point to various information resources without costly and cumbersome implementation and management. It works in both non-Citrix and Citrix environments.

WatchGuard rivals such as AEP Networks have been much earlier to the market with application-specific security appliances. Back in September 2004, AEP released a box to secure access to applications built around Citrix MetaFrame Presentation Server. It has since added an email gateway appliance to secure Microsoft Outlook web access usage over SSL VPN priced from $3,495 for 25 concurrent users.

The new Firebox SSL VPN appliance is our first to be pitched to appeal specifically to small and medium-sized operations, said Richard Reid, managing director at WatchGuard EMEA. At $3,200, the appliance is good value for money, being able to handle all protocols and all applications, and can be extended gradually to reach up to 200 users. The reason we have gated the pricing at that level is quite deliberate.

The starter pack includes a five-tunnel license and a three-month subscription to the WatchGuard LiveSecurity Service, but additional tunnels can be licensed in increments of five, 10 or 20. This first Firebox model allows for secure access from anywhere to any application be it web-based or host-based, but it can also be operated in kiosk mode so that web-based resources can be accessed via an SLL browser session. Reid suggested other versions are in the pipeline.

The company has been refreshing the entire product line over the last 12 to 18 months and some future developments will address stand-alone threat applications, he said. He added that WatchGuard has now had its entire range EAL4 approved, having been tested and evaluated to meet the requirements of Common Criteria certification. The vendor has launched the high-end Firebox X Peak firewall that has Gigabit connection speeds, and runs on the new Firewall Pro operating system.

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That upgrade took some of the new networking capabilities the Seattle, Washington-based company gained with its 2002 acquisition of RapidStream Inc. Notably those additional features includes the ability to allocate specific ports to different applications like email, web traffic, and to configure the interfaces for failover. It also allows for dynamic routing, supporting protocols like OSPF, BGP4, and RIP v1 and v2.

Some of company’s operations have also been tweaked, Reid said. The company is aiming to revitalize its partner and VAR channel program with the introduction of a series of rebates and incentives, and various other sales support initiatives. The moves are the most obvious signs of the appointment a year ago of Edward Borey as its new CEO and chairman.

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