LAS VEGAS—When Check Point Software began its work in the IT security industry in 1993, smartphones, mobile tablets, IoT, and cloud applications and services didn't yet exist. Back then, Check Point's No. 1 job was providing state-of-the-art security to protect hardware, data centers and desktop machines that were humming away for a wide range of businesses.
But with the arrival of powerful smartphones starting with Apple's iPhone in 2007, the explosive growth of cloud computing, and with the continuing spread of mobile computing, internet of things devices and other new technologies, Check Point has been facing fast-moving customer demands and technology changes that are helping to define its next moves.
"Customers are going to be investing more in three directions in the next few years"—more applications in the cloud, more mobile devices containing an increasing amount of sensitive data and an exponentially increasing number of IoT devices, said Itai Greenberg, vice president of product management for Check Point. Greenberg spoke with eWEEK here at the company's CPX 360 user and partner conference this week and laid out some details about the company's plans, past and future, as it refines and grows its IT security product and services lines for customers.
"Those are the things that IT is going to have to deal with," said Greenberg. "If today companies have X number of applications in the cloud, in the next few years they will have 10 times that number of applications. Customers are going that fast into the cloud."
In response, Check Point is continuing to add more of those needed capabilities to its products to meet those customer demands, he said. The company is investing to make that happen and has designated them as priorities, according to Greenberg.
"We have three initiatives—improving existing products, creating new products and then predicting where technology will be in two to five years to build new capabilities that can last for up to 10 years," he said.
Check Point has about 100,000 customers around the world today and provides services for many companies in the Fortune 500, particularly in banking and finance, said Greenberg. The company's products and services provide protection for a wide range of critical business systems within data centers and the cloud, including email, databases, Exchange web servers, mobile devices, mission-critical applications and much more.
Check Point has also been busy making key strategic acquisitions to expand its offerings to customers, including last year's acquisition of Dome9, which provides enhanced cloud infrastructure-as-a-service security enhancement for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud. In January, Check Point also acquired ForceNock, which built a web application and API protection technology that Check Point is now working to include into its products, said Greenberg.
Aviv Abramovich, the company's head of product management for security services, told eWEEK that Check Point has been focusing in recent years on building an all-encompassing IT security platform that includes just about every tool that business customers require to protect their businesses.
"We look at the digital transformations all of our customers are going through" and evaluate them for what needs to be protected, from the data center to the cloud, endpoints, mobile devices and more, said Abramovich. "We see attacks coming from all fronts on these things."
Instead of a piecemeal approach with multiple vendors and products targeting an individual vulnerability, Check Point works to cover all of a customer's security worries, he said.
"It needs to be from start to finish, not just isolated pieces," he said. "If you have separate products protecting each of those things, you might not see other attacks on other systems. Intelligence sharing between the attack vectors is critical. We think that having visibility where everything is in a unified system is better than having multiple systems."
On the product front, Check Point introduced its latest offering, Maestro, in late January to give customers a new option when they want to add new security gateways for expansion. Maestro is an orchestration system that enables a single gateway to quickly expand to up to 52 gateways, giving companies flexibility and boosting performance as needed.
in late January to give customers a new option when they want to add new security gateways for expansion. Maestro is an orchestration system that enables a single gateway to quickly expand to up to 52 gateways, giving companies flexibility and boosting performance as needed.
Analysts Weigh In
Several industry analysts also attended the CPX 360 conference, including Mike Sapien of Ovum. And while Check Point executives often touted their continuing leadership positions in today's IT security segment, Sapien said that he sees the company in more of a catch-up role today.
"Although Check Point felt that they had some leadership position, I really feel like they are making a major comeback after years of being run over by their competition," such as Fortinet and Palo Alto Networks, said Sapien. "Check Point was a clear leader five to 10 years ago but is now making up ground from the competition to become one of the leaders now."
Paula Musich, an analyst with Enterprise Management Associates, agreed.
"Check Point is one of the leading independent IT security providers in the market, although it is not recognized in North America quite as much for that distinction," said Musich. "In the past they have underspent in marketing, although that appears to have changed more recently. I don't think that the market recognizes the strength of Check Point's threat research organization."
Another analyst, Chris Rodriguez of IDC, said several Check Point customers at the conference told him they are excited about the recent announcement of the company's latest product offering, Maestro. "They brought it up as exciting and a new and positive announcement. And that makes sense: It can offer advantages in terms of performance and scalability and reliability, and ultimately, value."
One thing for customers to watch, said Rodriguez, is how Check Point works to update its architecture as part of its transition to its next generation of IT security software and services, which the company has dubbed Gen IV.
"Part of the transition to Gen VI security will involve an update to the Check Point architecture, with nanoagents for IoT and a more microservice-like architecture, all connected by a fog type of edge cloud computing," said Rodriguez. "This approach will help security protections follow assets more closely and with fine-grained controls that will be necessary in the future age of computing."