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 Check Point Software Technologies announced this morning that
it will acquire Nokia’s security appliance unit for an undisclosed

In September, Nokia made public plans to sell of its security
appliance business to raise cash to buoy its troubled core
telecommunications and handset business. The initial report pegged the
buyer as an anonymous private equity firm.

Had Nokia sold to either an investment firm or another appliance
vendor, it would have significantly hurt Check Point. For most of Check
Point’s history, it’s solely produced the firewall and VPN software
that’s loaded onto white boxes produced by partners. Its largest
equipment partner is Nokia.

“As a pioneer in security appliances, the Nokia security appliance
business has been an important strategic partner for Check Point and
has helped us achieve early leadership in the security appliance
market,” said Check Point CEO Gil Shwed in a statement. “Adding Nokia’s
security appliance portfolio into Check Point’s broad range of security
solutions is the natural conclusion of our long collaboration, and will
assure a smooth path forward for our mutual customers.”

Check Point’s acquisition of the Nokia security appliance unit is
expected to close in the first quarter of 2009, the company said.

The acquisition will give Check Point a significant boost in its
appliance capacity. Analysts have long criticized Check Point for not
adopting its own hardware portfolio to combat efforts made by security
and networking rivals.

Check Point introduced its first unified threat management (UTM)
device four years ago, but has mostly played laggard to efforts by
Cisco Systems, Fortinet and SonicWall. For the better part of the
decade, Check Point’s core enterprise firewall business has been under
pressure by Cisco Systems and Juniper Networks (which acquired former
rival NetScreen), which manufacture firewall and perimeter security

A Check Point/Nokia combination could have significant benefits for
Check Point solution providers, which have long complained about not
having a hardware answer to offerings by Cisco and Juniper. Many Check
Point partners make money off license renewals rather than net-new

“Check Point is looking forward to expanding its security portfolio
and to continuing to provide customers and partners with the industry’s
most comprehensive line of security appliances,” Shwed said.