Palo Alto challenges Check Point

Shmulik Shelach

Palo Alto Networks' edge is not just in its approach, which targets more sophisticated contemporary challenges, but also in its hardware.

The differences between Check Point Software Technologies Ltd. (Nasdaq: CHKP), founded by chairman and CEO Gil Shwed, and Palo Alto Networks Inc. (Nasdaq: PANW), founded by CTO Nir Zuk may be basically technological and strategic, but if these factors are taken out of the equation in the competition between the companies, behind the scenes, there is almost an ideological battle about how the data information world should look. In other words, what really threatens contemporary computer network users, and what is the best way of dealing with it.

Check Point was founded 19 years ago, and provided one of the first commercial products for protecting enterprise networks. Since the Internet is based on standards which make it possible for different computers to communicate with each other, the basic protection analyzes the data packets that facilitate this conversation and prevent the misuse of the open access underpinning the Internet's basic protocol, TCP/IP.

The name given to Check Point's technology was borrowed from the physical world - firewall - a barrier that only permits the entry of authorized parties according to permitted means and technical parameters. Over the years, Check Point's products evolved to meet more sophisticated challenges, such as identifying and blocking outside apps through the use of software solutions embedded in the company's basic hardware infrastructures.

Palo Alto Networks targets a different part of the perimeter defense of enterprise networks. The company's products, called "next generation firewalls" (NGFW) provide protection with an emphasis on external apps that pass through an enterprise network, and on a more efficient control of what network users can do.

For example, Palo Alto Networks' products can see when a network's users connect to Facebook and can block access to a particular use by a specific user. Zuk defines the advantage of its products this way: "We can take online apps and make their use as safe as using e-mail."

Palo Alto's edge is not just in its approach, which targets more sophisticated contemporary challenges, but also in its hardware, on which the company runs its security software. Palo Alto's architecture supports parallel processing, based on a large number of processors, enabling the running of a large number of security checks simultaneously, rather than sequentially.

Imperva Inc. (NYSE: IMPV), run by president and CEO Shlomo Kramer, uses a completely different method to deal with threats. Although its main product is called "web application firewall" (WAF), there is no technological similarity between its firewall and those of Check Point and Palo Alto Networks. Imperva believes that real protection should focus on the important things - sensitive information. The control of access to databases and the oversight of the use of online apps are according to the enterprise's data security procedures, which are really critical for securing an enterprise's data.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - - on November 20, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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