Dual Firewall Solution Gets VAR In The Door
By joining forces with a leading security vendor, Cadre-Information Security was able to land a customer needing a high-availability firewall solution.
Cadre-Information Security in Cincinnati specializes in security solutions. A local company in that area is a major manufacturer of uniforms, both career and military. Cadre tried for years, to no avail, to get into the manufacturer's IT environment. Then Cadre teamed with Check Point Software Technologies (Redwood City, CA).
"We sat down with Check Point and said, 'Let's identify the large companies we do not currently work with,'" says Jim Overbeck, security consultant for Cadre. "We knew what this company was doing in regard to security; they just weren't willing to make any major investments. Bringing Check Point in definitely helped us out."
Working with Check Point, Cadre was able to get inside the manufacturer. The problem the company faced related to its firewalls. "The company needed a high-availability infrastructure," says Overbeck. "The company had grown to the point where it needed constant uptime. What they had in place were individual firewalls in a couple of different locations. Unfortunately, that solution was no longer cutting it."
Uptime Is Critical To Operations
Uptime could not be guaranteed with the existing solution. The company needed uptime for partners doing electronic orders or in need of stocking reports. In that type of environment, the company could not afford to have its partner connections down. The firewalls also allowed for different company locations across the country to be connected. The company also could not afford for one of its 400-user locations to be denied access to the main servers.
The firewalls the company had in place created a single point of failure. "We installed a couple sets of firewalls," says Overbeck. "The new solution was the VPN-1 high-availability bundle from Check Point. With the new solution, there is no longer a single point of failure. The solution features two firewalls running in a high-availability environment. With two firewalls, a customer can have both up and running with network traffic running through both of them. If one fails, the traffic from the one that fails would route over to the active firewall. With just one firewall, if a failure occurred all traffic would stop." With the new solution, the customer may also opt to have all traffic run through just one firewall, with the other one on standby, ready to pick up the load if the first fails.
Another benefit of the solution is its manageability. "That is a great selling point for Check Point," says Overbeck. "They have a great management software platform that enables the user to work on all of the firewalls from one location."
Customers Look For Security Expertise
The end user was looking at a couple of different products, but it was leaning toward the Check Point product. "One of the IT employees at the company was familiar with Check Point firewalls from a prior employer," says Overbeck. "We had to bid against five other VAR companies but won the business pretty easily." Overbeck notes that a lot of the companies in the bidding process were not security experts, which was important to the customer. Cadre's focus is on security, and with that expertise it was easy to create a gap between the company and its competitors.
The Check Point firewall software runs on a Nokia hardware platform. The Nokia hardware is an appliance made to run the Check Point software. According to Overbeck, 50% to 60% of Check Point installs are on the Nokia IP380.
For Cadre, the first step of the installation was a week of staging at the customer's site. "We got the firewalls up and running and ran them in the customer's lab," he said. "We threw some traffic at it and adjusted the configurations and made changes to make sure things were running smoothly. Only then did we go live with the firewalls." The total installation took just over two weeks to complete. A lot of consulting was built into the budget, from initial meetings for developing a timeline to quality assurance meetings that insure everything progressed as planned.
Training is involved, which Cadre performs at its home office. The company is a certified Check Point and Nokia training center. Overbeck notes Check Point training takes four days, while Nokia training normally takes just two days. Training provides the end user with the knowledge necessary to perform troubleshooting and manage the ongoing operations of the solution.
"The customer is happy, and the firewalls are working out very well for them," says Overbeck. "They are now in the process of buying additional solutions from us relating to security projects they have on the table. Going forward, they have told us we will be their partner on any security-related projects."