Microsoft, Check Point Broaden Partnership

During the month of May, Microsoft Corp. announced the expansion of a partnership with firewall and network security vendor Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Redwood City, Calif., that was largely overshadowed by speculation concerning impending anti-trust action by the Department of Justice. The revamped Microsoft/Check Point alliance figures to augment the functionality of Windows NT server in terms of interoperability, integration and serviceability with Check Point's products.

Check Point's partnership with Microsoft originally began in 1996 with the shipment of Check Point's FireWall-1 for Windows NT.

According to Deborah Triant, president and CEO of Check Point Software, the alliance strives to provide unified policy-based management for networks running both Windows NT and Check Point software solutions. "As networks have become more global, policy-based management has become ... the absolute essential element for implementing a uniform security policy across an entire enterprise," Triant affirms.

According to Zona Research (Redwood Shores, Calif.), Check Point Software's FireWall-1 currently is the overall firewall marketplace leader with 19 percent share.

Rob Enderle, a senior analyst with the Giga Information Group (Santa Clara, Calif.), sees Microsoft's move as an attempt on the part of the software giant to partner with an industry leader to increase interoperability between products and mask the complexity of network security services by ensuring a single network sign-on. In April 1997, Microsoft announced a partnership with Cisco Systems Inc. -- the Directory-Enabled Networking (DEN) initiative -- to ensure interoperability between Cisco's InterNetwork Operating System and Microsoft's forthcoming Active Directory.

"This all part of their process of creating that single login experience," Enderle explains. "What they've done with Cisco and what they're doing with Checkpoint is part of their process of accomplishing that task."

Accordingly, the Windows NT logon process, NT domain infrastructure and NT Event Monitor will be integrated to some extent with Check Point's FireWall-1 firewall product, as well as its FloodGate-1 bandwidth management software and Open Security Manager and MetaIP products. Accordingly, Check Point maintains, such integration will provide its products with a further degree of interoperability with the Windows NT operating system. If an alert is generated because of an infraction against an existing system policy, Check Point's FireWall-1, for example, could generate an event notification to the event log of the appropriate domain controller.

Check Point will also work with Microsoft to provide for the interoperability and integration of Check Point products with Microsoft's Active Directory. In addition, Check Point also announced that it will cooperate in the development of Microsoft and Cisco's joint DEN venture.