Citrix buying VPN company Net6 for US$50 million

Citrix buying VPN company Net6 for US$50 million

Citrix Systems is buying Net6, a privately-held maker of Secure Socket Layer (SSL) Virtual Private Network (VPN) technology, for $US50 million cash.

The acquisition will boost Citrix's stable of secure remote access technology and give the company a foothold in the market for Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) products, according to a joint statement released by the companies. Net6 is a 30-person company with headquarters in California.

Citrix will add Net6's SSL Access Gateway and Application Gateway and Voice Office Application Suite to its product line. Citrix plans to use the technology to expand the options for customers who wish to remotely connect to network resources, including applications, data and voice applications.

The SSL Access Gateway will be sold as a stand-alone product and in conjunction with the Citrix MetaFrame Access Suite, where the SSL access technology will enhance the existing SmoothRoaming feature that simplifies Citrix sessions over mobile devices.

SSL VPNs are a popular technology for providing remote users with access to network resources such as email, software applications and network file servers. As opposed to VPNs that use IPsec (Internet Protocol security), SSL VPNs are "clientless", meaning they do not require a separate software application to be installed on the remote user's machine. They also rely on the SSL protocol, which is a part of most common Web servers and Web browsers and widely used to secure e-commerce transactions.

Citrix already offered an SSL VPN-like gateway with its MetaFrame Secure Access Manager, but that product was only suitable for very large Citrix deployments, associate analyst at Forrester Research, Rob Whiteley, said.

Net6's SSL Access Gateway wouldl give Citrix a way to meet the needs of smaller customers and support remote access for a broader range of applications, such as email, he said.

At the same time, selling the SSL Access Gateway as a standalone product would give Citrix a beachhead in smaller accounts that might be willing to buy more Citrix products later, Whiteley said.

Plans for Net6's Application Gateway and Voice Office Application Suite are less clear. Citrix said it wanted to build an infrastructure that converges voice, data and applications creating "the ultimate mobile office".

For example, Citrix envisions mobile workers being able to use Citrix and Net6 technology to access hosted applications, Web-based applications and VOIP phone services all from a notebook, desktop or tablet PC.

The technology would eventually help Citrix live up to its new moniker of an access infrastructure company, Whiteley said.

Net6 has proprietary technology that enables its products to capture and encrypt voice traffic lower in the IP stack, which keeps interruptions -- or latency -- to a minimum. However, Citrix still had work to do to unify its Secure Access Manager with the Net6 technology and coordinate security policies between the products, Whiteley said.

Citrix bought Net6 mostly for the SSL Access Gateway technology but the company is also excited about the prospect of entering the VoIP market.

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