Bull transfers software firewall technology to Arkoon

Part of deal will see Bull distribute and favor Arkoon products

PARIS - French software, servers and services company Bull has sold its software firewall product, Netwall, to Arkoon, a French security appliance manufacturer. Bull is not turning its back on firewalls altogether, though: it will distribute Arkoon products, and will favor them in its security systems integration work.

The deal also includes the transfer of code for controlling Netwall through a broader network management systems, the companies said.

This will enable Arkoon to better integrate its own firewall appliances into network management systems, and to ensure a smooth migration for Netwall clients switching to Arkoon appliances, said Thierry Rouquet, president of Arkoon.

Arkoon will support Netwall customers for three years, and will sell the product to existing customers for 18 months. No new features will be added to Netwall, although Arkoon will patch security flaws identified in the product while support continues, Rouquet said.

Bull decided to stop development of its firewall software when it noticed a shift in the market towards firewall appliances. The company had already developed its own appliance "with excellent performance," said security business unit director Philippe Destison, but it takes more than good technology to get into a market as crowded as that for firewall appliances, he added.

For Bull, the logical move was to find another appliance supplier willing to help Bull's existing customer base migrate, he said.

Arkoon made revenue of around €6 million (US$7.7 million) last year, and expects to make €8.5 million this year. As much as €1 million of that could come from Bull's sales channels, Rouquet said.

That's nowhere near enough to satisfy Rouquet's ambitions, however. To become a serious player in the security appliance market, Arkoon needs revenue of around €50 million, and must boost the proportion of its revenue from outside France to around 50 percent, from the current 20 percent, he said.

The security appliance market is long overdue for consolidation, he said, and the company is eyeing acquisitions elsewhere in Europe.