We are at the end of an era. First the EOL of Cisco's Pix firewall and now Nokia, the cell phone giant, is finally selling its security appliance business. It terms of revenue there was a time when this business was the number three firewall company in the world after Check Point and Cisco. Nokia bundled products from Check Point and ISS on hardware platforms that they had originally acquired from Ipsilon Networks in 1997 to create a purpose built appliance running a derivative of BSD. Through superior customer support and taking advantage of Check Point’s lack of an appliance strategy, Nokia’s security division thrived.
In a press release Nokia said:
As a further step towards ensuring a clear focus on its core mobility business, Nokia is also announcing that it is in the advanced stages of discussions for the potential sale of its security appliances business to a financial investor. "If this transaction is concluded, it would be an extremely positive development for the security appliance business, which will be able to realize its full potential under new ownership.
It never made sense for a huge telecom equipment manufacturer to be in the Check Point appliance business. Five years ago would have been a great time to spin off the business so that they could have developed their own firewall and network security technology and gone head to head with Checkpoint. As it is they missed the opportunity to get into the UTM space with combined capability for VPN, firewall, AV, and URL filtering.
This is a turbulent time to be trying to sell a business that frankly lacks a stand-alone brand and needs significant investment in R&D to catch up.
Check out Andy Hay's take on the Nokia divestiture. Funny.
Richard Stiennon is a security industry analyst. He is currently consulting, speaking and writing on all manner of security topics for IT-Harvest, the IT research firm he founded to cover the security space. He was most recently chief marketing officer for Fortinet. He has served stints at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Gartner, and Webroot Software.