One of the UK's largest security resellers, Wick Hill, is wooing customers of Cisco's soon-to-be discontinued PIX firewall with heavy discounts on Watchguard security appliances.

Last January, Cisco announced that the widely-used PIX (Private Internet eXchange) 501, 506E, 515E, 525 and 535 models would be discontinued on January 27th 2009, with all follow-on support ceasing by 2013. Customers were encouraged to migrate to Cisco's multi-function ASA 5500 series, first introduced in 2005.

Now Wick Hill has taken a predictable but unexpectedly aggressive pot at this cosy plan by offering discounts of thirty-five percent off list price on all appliances across the Watchguard line to anyone still sitting on a geriatric PIX.

Normally pitching a smallish, private security vendor boxes against the mighty Cisco wouldn't warrant much anxiety, but the demise of PIX could mark a treacherous moment. Cisco's ASA series adopts some of the UTM (unified Threat Management) features which are starting to define the multi-purpose nature of security hardware, but not as comprehensively in terms of price-performance, Wick Hill claims, as do Watchguard's Firebox X Core/Peak e-Series UTMs.

"Although it [the PIX] is obsolete, it has a huge user base that has been sitting on its hands," said Wick Hill's chairman, Ian Kilpatrick.

"With some of the lower end Cisco appliances, if you want to add extra security functionality you actually have to buy an additional appliance. In a UTM world, we believe that users want a single appliance," he said.

"With the WatchGuard Firebox, you buy what you need at the time and can add all the extra security functionality you want by simply upgrading the licence."

Watchguard's recent Firebox e-Series lines up anti-malware scanning, anti-spam, intrusion prevention, web filtering and VPN against much the same features on the 5500 family, but at what appear to be lower price points. Cisco's price discounting for PIX customers is claimed by Watchguard to be around 20 percent from a higher base price when comparing features and throughputs, although this could not be confirmed.

A detailed feature breakdown of Watchguard's UTM appliances can be found on the Wick Hill website.