ISS, Nokia Dissolving Partnership

UPDATED: ISS says the long relationship is ending because the two companies are going in strategically different directions.

Internet Security Systems Inc. has decided to dissolve its relationship with Nokia Corp., one of the companys oldest and most important partners. The partnership officially will end Feb. 1, although both companies already have informed their sales and marketing teams of the decision.

Since 2000, ISS and Nokias Internet Communications division have sold and marketed a joint solution, known as RealSecure Network for Nokia. The product is basically just ISS RealSecure intrusion detection system pre-loaded onto a Nokia appliance. But for quite a long time, Nokia was ISS premier hardware partner and this solution was the most popular way for ISS customers to get RealSecure on a dedicated box.

That all changed last year when ISS introduced its own line of security appliances, known as Proventia. The boxes provide a variety of security capabilities, including IDS. ISS also now has a partnership with Crossbeam Systems Inc., a small appliance vendor that loads RealSecure onto its multifunction boxes.

Existing RealSecure for Nokia customers will continue to receive support in the form of software updates and new IDS signatures until the end of 2006. And those customers will be able to purchase additional boxes through the end of this year. However, ISS and Nokia will stop taking orders from new customers in February.

Officials at ISS, based in Atlanta, said the decision to end the partnership was a mutual one that grew out of the companies differing directions and future strategies.

"Were going in strategically different directions. Nokias focus is more on its mobile communications and ours is obviously on end-to-end security," said Ashley Vandiver, spokeswoman for ISS. "Theres no hard feelings. Weve had a long and very strong relationship with them."

In an effort to hang on to existing RealSecure for Nokia customers, ISS plans to offer a "migration pass" program that will give those customers aggressive price discounts on Proventia appliances. The two companies are just now beginning to inform their customers about the decision to end the partnership.

"Were still working out the fine details on that," Vandiver said. "This is still very new."

According to a memo distributed by Nokia, based in Espoo, Finland, to its channel partners earlier this month, both companies plan to honor existing bundle pricing for the solution and ISS will share a joint customer list with Nokia so that the electronics company can continue to sell to current customers.

"Nokia and ISS have enjoyed a successful three-year relationship delivering RealSecure for Nokia best-of-breed IDS appliances to enterprises through our partners globally," said Michael Cabot, a spokesman for Nokia. "However, as our respective strategies evolve, we have mutually agreed to discontinue the joint RealSecure for Nokia solution. Nokia and ISS remain committed to the joint customers we have served, and will continue to work with them to complete long term deployments and ongoing solution support," Cabot said.

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information from Nokia.