Check Point has announced its first ever unified threat management (UTM) appliance, as it redoubles its efforts to gain a foothold in the SME sector.

Called the UTM-1, the new box puts a wide range of mostly proprietary security features into a single device design that it hopes will appeal to mid-tier and smaller companies without extensive security teams.

The company has previously released UTM features as software-only protection in products such as VPN-1, so putting its know-how into a one-stop appliance is a new departure.

Based on an Intel X86 platform, the new UTM-1 features application firewalling, intrusion prevention, SSL and IPSec VPN remote access, and various layers of anti-malware and anti-spyware included from external partners Surfcontrol and Computer Associates.

URL filtering - which uses Check Point’s own database - is a notable feature, and includes the ability to spot and control protocols operating from within the network, such as VoIP and a number of other troublesome P2P applications.

Beyond the headline specification, there are signs that this is no mere “me-too” UTM of the likes that now crowd the market. Product setup is driven by a series of straightforward wizards that would suit an IT admin without extensive security experience. Licensing is likewise brief and simple, and is based not on the number of users but on throughput, another feature that could endear it to smaller shops.

If the wrong turn is taken during policy setup, a supplied USB stick can be inserted into the box to reboot it with factory defaults. Subscriptions include a two-year warranty, and either a 12x5 support contract, or the more demanding 24x7 equivalent.

“UTM is almost driven by the box,” said Check Point’s director for Northern Europe, Nick Lowe. “They [SMEs] want to take it out of the box and turn it on with high-end features.”

“We have had a gap in our product set and haven’t been able to compete in the medium company sector,” he also admitted.

There are three models, starting with the basic UTM-1 450, with 4 Gigabit Ethernet ports, 400 megabits per/s throughput (190 megabits per/s VPN), and a user ceiling of 250. Next up is the 1050 model, which ups user numbers to 500 and throughput to 1 Gigabits per/s, while the top-end 2050 handles 1,000 users and 2 Gigabits per/s throughput. More models are promised for future release.

The company has a policy of not quoting local prices, preferring to use the US dollar Prices as guides for its distributors to play with according to exchange rates. In the US, the models cost $7,500 for the UTM-1 450, and $10,000, and $15,000 for the 1050 and 2050 models respectively. Subscriptions to the Unlimited SmartDefense update service are $2,750 per annum.