The NetScreen and WatchGuard announcements focus on giving companies the option to buy one hardware platform and then upgrade it as necessary. Both offer firewall and VPN protection, and WatchGuard includes several other security features, including anti-virus.NetScreen Technologies and WatchGuard Technologies this week will join the crowd of vendors pushing harder to get midsize businesses to buy their multifunction\u00a0security\u00a0appliances.The thinking behind the effort goes something like this: There are lots of businesses with between 100 and 1,000 employees (88,000 in the U.S. by NetScreen's count, 105,000 by WatchGuard's tally) but they typically don't have enough IT staff to learn, manage and maintain scads of individual security boxes per site. Multifunction devices are intended to simplify security management.The NetScreen and WatchGuard announcements focus on giving companies the option to buy one hardware platform and then upgrade it as necessary. Both offer\u00a0firewall\u00a0and\u00a0VPN\u00a0protection, and WatchGuard includes several other security features, including anti-virus.Their announcements come after SonicWall announced SonicWall Pro 2040, which comes in standard ($2,000) and enhanced ($2,750) versions, and Check Point announced its Edge X series of appliances that range from $800 to $2,000.Unionbay Sportsware in Seattle uses WatchGuard's new appliances in part because they offer flexibility. The devices can be configured to segment networks into secure zones with separate firewalls that can provide internal authentication for Internet access, says Erika Anderson, technical services supervisor for the 250-employee company. "It can partition within the network but also let mobile users access the network from outside," she says.Anderson says the company plans to add Web-filtering and spam-blocking software to the boxes later. "Having all these solutions in one product is more cost-effective and easier to manage."The new appliancesNetScreen is introducing scaled-back versions of five models - the 25, 50, 204, 208 and 500. The new Baseline models (as opposed to the existing Advanced editions) handle fewer router protocols, support only hot standby failover, offer no support for virtual LANs, support fewer VPN tunnels and individual sessions, and don't support application-layer packet inspection.Prices range from $2,800 to $20,000, about 20% less than for the Advanced versions (though upgrading from Baseline to Advanced costs more than buying Advanced in the first place).WatchGuard is introducing brand-new hardware called the Firebox X that can be upgraded into four distinct models priced from $1,900 to $5,000, depending on throughput, security features and number of Ethernet ports. In addition to activating up to six physical ports and more throughput, these devices can be upgraded with features including anti-virus, anti-spam, Web filtering and high availability. They also have a bay for a hard drive to quarantine suspicious files.As with NetScreen's pricing, upgrading from one WatchGuard model to another costs more than buying a higher-end model from the start.