Sun Microsystems Inc., teamed up with Check Point Software Technologies, is getting into the security appliance business.

The two vendors jointly announced this week a 2G bps firewall/virtual private network appliance based on Sun hardware and Check Point software. The Sun LX50 VPN/Firewall appliance is intended to offer a strong price/performance ratio, says Arun Gowda, business development manager at Check Point.

''In the past, people thought of an appliance as something that was solid state, ASIC-based, which tends to be expensive,'' says Sanjay Sharma, market segment manager for security at Sun.


He may have a point. Vendors, including Recourse Technologies and Intrusion, Inc., have announced VPN/firewall appliances, which feature redundant components and run Check Point software at gigabit speed. They cost $17,000 or more. Sun's appliance is slated to ring in at $3,300.

Sun's offering is based on the company's LX50, an entry-level server introduced in August. It runs a hardened version of Linux and is meant to be simple to deploy.

Sun will offer different versions of the appliance that vary according to whether they are single or dual processor, and how the available PCI slots are populated. The LX50 comes standard with two 10/100 Ethernet cards and has two available PCI slots. For the purposes of the VPN/firewall appliance, one of them is always populated with a dual-port Gigabit Ethernet card, while the other can house a quad- or dual-port 10/100 Ethernet card or a VPN accelerator.

Peak firewall performance for the appliance is 2G bps, while VPN throughput tops out at 640M bps.

The LX50 VPN/Firewall is scheduled to be available in January 2003, with prices ranging from $3,300 to $5,700. Sun and Check Point will jointly market the product and sell it through their respective channels.