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Security appliance firm NetScreen Technologies is looking to expand sales in medium-sized enterprises by releasing a range of new firewall/VPN appliances backed by a multi-million dollar marketing programme.

NetScreen is best known for sales of high-end hardware-based security appliances to enterprises and telcos. Now it hopes to make sales to firms with between 100 to 1,000 employees the fastest growing part of its business.

The company this week released a family of entry-level products, the Baseline series, offering simplified versions of the company's existing range of security appliances minus the kinds of functionality medium-sized enterprises less frequently need.

The Baseline devices include stateful firewall, IPSec virtual private network (VPN), Denial of Service protection and traffic management functionality, as well as failover capabilities. Although lacking the deep inspection (application protection) or dynamic routing capabilities found in NetScreen's existing enterprise range, Baseline versions of these products come with a price reduction of around 30 per cent. Slimmed-down Baseline devices are also designed to be much easier to install.

Peter Crowcombe, EMEA marketing director at NetScreen, said "we have taken features out whilst keeping the performance."

"Advanced enterprise features can be added with a software upgrade," he added.

Last year Check Point Software also announced a renewed focus on medium range enterprise but NetScreen reckons there's plenty of space in the market for expansion and forecasts that its ASIC-based hardware appliances will prove popular in medium sized shops. NetScreen hopes to sell into green-field sites.

Crowcombe said that research shows that a third (31 per cent) of medium-sized enterprises still don't have a firewall.

Backing up its assault on the mid-range, NetScreen is launching a channel education and sales training programme. It is also looking to recruit new resellers. The programme is been backed by an advertising campaign.

"Thanks to our channel partners we have been reasonably successful in the mid-market without really focusing on it. Now we're really focusing on the mid-market, which we hope will become the fastest growing part of our business," said Crowcombe.

New Baseline versions of the NetScreen-25, -50, -204, -208 and - 500 appliances running NetScreen ScreenOS version 5.0, are immediately available at prices starting from $3,200. ®

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