Check Point Software: Jekyll, Meet HydeBy Baselinemag | Posted 2004-10-01 Print
Check Point Software gets complaints about poor support and high pricing, but other customers rave about its service and management tools.
Customers of Check Point, once the gold standard for network security, report such wildly different experiences that it almost seems as if they're describing two different entities.
Among the unhappy campers: Pamela Fusco, chief security officer of Merck & Co. "Check Point does not treat the customer very well," she says. "They're not responsive, and they make up excuses. Check Point always promises to do better, and they never do." Moreover, she says, Check Point's licensing fees make its software up to 25% more expensive than competing products: "They nickel and dime you for everything."
The pharmaceutical giant runs primarily Check Point firewalls; Fusco won't say how many, but she previously managed more than 1,500 when she was in charge of network security for hosting provider Digex.
Meanwhile, Check Point's technical support is pricierand less helpfulthan other vendors', says Doug Kluth, systems administrator at Landmark Credit Union in Waukesha, Wis. "Check Point can never seem to get a problem solved," he says. The credit union plans to switch next year to a Juniper NetScreen appliance for its primary firewall.
Then there's the experience of M&T Bank, based in Buffalo, N.Y., which runs 24 Check Point firewalls. "When I've had to use their support, it's been there for me," says Matt Speare, the bank's chief information security officer. And, he says, Check Point "did actually listen to customer feedback" in designing its next-generation firewalls.
Scott Loach, global information security architect at investment firm Raymond James Financial, is also pleased with Check Point's products and services. When his team had technical issues late one evening with one of its firewall clusters, he says a Check Point support engineer jumped out of bed and stayed on site half the night. "Check Point definitely feels more like a partner than a vendor," he says.
Plus, Loach adds, Check Point's management tools "are far superior to the competition's." Raymond James has deployed VPN-1 Edge appliances at about 120 offices, and key to that rollout has been Check Point's SmartCenter management software, which lets Loach's team group devices together and apply the same policies in a single step: "That makes it very easy to set up a large number of branch offices."
Check Point Operating Results*
* Fiscal year ends Dec. 31; YTD reflects first six months
Source: company reports
Total assets: $1.92B
Stockholders' equity: $1.64B
Cash and equivalents: $231.08M
Long-term debt: None
Shares outstanding: 266.80M
Market value as of 9/24: $4.57B
**As of June 30, 2004, except as noted
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