Check Point ships next-generation VPN product

Software developer Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. announced Tuesday that it has begun shipping its next generation of VPN (virtual private network) software, featuring new remote-management capabilities.

The new version of the software, called VPN1/Firewall1 Next Generation, can be configured centrally and distributed online – for example, via e-mail – to PC users within a corporation, officials said.

“This is taking our product to the next level,” said Gil Shwed, chairman and founder of Check Point. The core code of the company’s VPN software has been rewritten in the new version, to add features and to allow it to work effectively as the number of computers in a network grows, he said.

New management features let system administrators configure the software to prevent client PCs from logging on to the VPN with installed software that doesn’t comply with the company’s policy, executives said during a Web broadcast on Tuesday. Firewalls may be configured the same way on client PCs and servers, allowing gateway servers to screen out unauthorized traffic from a company’s LAN.

Check Point first announced the next generation product in May. The launch of VPN1/Firewall1 Next Generation was initially scheduled for April, but was postponed to avoid a concurrent announcement with its financial results, Check Point officials said at the time.

Pricing for VPN1/Firewall1 Next Generation starts at US$495 for 10 users, for the software only. The full package, including hardware (the gateway server), costs $1,500. If a customer wants to add personal firewalls in all clients the price is an additional $49 per client based on at least 1,000 clients. For fewer clients the price is higher, but Check Point did not immediately specify the price.

A parade of Check Point partners, including IBM Corp. and Compaq Computer Corp. will offer the new VPN software in their products. Compaq will present a SolutionPaq combining a high-availability Proliant server with VPN1/Firewall1 Next Generation software. IBM will offer Check Point’s software on its x-series servers.

Check Point Software, in Redwood City, Calif., can be reached at