Stonesoft, which develops enterprise-level security and high-availability software, has launched what company officials call the world’s first software firewall appliance.

The appliance comprises Stonesoft’s enterprise StoneGate VPN/Firewall, an integrated operating system, firewall and high availability solution, with a customer’s choice of Intel and Sun SPARC servers, on-site installation, support and basic training. (Go to www.stonegate.com for details.)

“We’re doing this because the enterprise firewall market is becoming too sophisticated to be locked into the hardware solution of a single vendor,” Cai Granfors, vice president of sales for Stonesoft North America, said in a statement. “The market is being encouraged to upgrade to the latest versions of firewall software, but the hardware upgrade costs are often so high, the customer finds it too tough to move to the latest technology. The Stonesoft alternative frees customers from this jail cell.”

The software firewall appliance allows companies to achieve superior performance on standard hardware. Customers can make their own choice from commonly available server platforms and achieve solid price and performance.

Stonesoft will rebate up to $5,000 for the two servers required for a single StoneGate VPN/Firewall and up to $6,500 for the three servers needed for a StoneGate two-node cluster. The purchase price for the servers is rebated against the appliance price on proof of purchase.

Stonesoft website: www.stonesoft.com