Check Point this week is announcing that it is making appliances that support its VPN-1\/Firewall-1 software, something that can't help but rile up other VPN vendors that do the same thing.Part of Check Point's strategy over the years is to write firewall and VPN software and the platform to manage it. It then licenses the software to hardware makers that build customer boxes to run the software.Check Point winds up selling a lot of licenses that way without having to actually send out salespeople to do it; the licenses get sold by hardware vendors, integrators, value-added resellers and the like. This appliance-building scheme has been so successful that in the case of Nokia, it has been ranked among the top-selling VPN vendors by market research companies.Now Check Point, which is widely known, is selling appliances of its own that directly compete with those of its licensees. In the case of Nokia, its low-end appliance roughly fits the specs of Check Point's new low-end box and costs the same. A higher-end Nokia box has lower throughput and a higher price than another of Check Point's appliances.Also at the low end, Check Point is challenging a start-up it funded, Sofaware, which makes appliances for SOHO offices. Again, the low-end Check Point appliance pretty much matches the specs and price of the Sofaware box.The relationship between Nokia and Check Point has been reputedly strained for years, and there have been some ugly court battles between Check Point and Sofaware in Israel, where the two companies have headquarters. This new development won't smooth things over on either front.