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With an IPO on the horizon -- Bess is holding fast to his prior prediction that it will happen in Palo Alto's fiscal 2011, which begins in August -- Palo Alto is also adding to its management ranks. Recent recruits include Michael Lehman, the former two-time chief financial officer of Sun Microsystems and now Palo Alto's CFO.
Palo Alto is further determined not to slow down its pace of product development, Bess said. Earlier this week, the company introduced GlobalProtect, a remote access end-point management product that's similar to a VPN and applies a business' security policies to remote users through a persistent thin client.
The difference between GlobalProtect and most VPNs, according to Chris King, Palo Alto's director of product marketing, is that many VPNs funnel traffic through central gateways, whereas Palo Alto's offering connects automatically to the most convenient, geographically closest Palo Alto firewall available, whether it's located in a hub or a private cloud.
"A lot of the traditional approaches don't work. You've solved the inside problem, but when users leave the office, you're loading up with a bunch of client software that's difficult to manage," King explained. "Proxy management, traditional VPNs and a port-based approach slow things down. When you can redirect all network traffic to the closest gateway, however ... well, let's have that conversation."
GlobalProtect will be available in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Palo Alto, and at launch will be able to support Windows environments, with Mac versions to follow. It'll be licensed on a per-gateway basis, King said.
For partners, additional channel program improvements are on the way, Bess added. Ultimately, he said, Palo Alto will focus on keeping its best partners close, even with two-tier distribution on the way.
"We want partners to pretty much lead with Palo Alto," Bess said. "Over the last two years, we've had some that led with a certain product and fall back on Palo Alto, and that's not the type of partner we want in our one-tier world. We want to give those partners who lead the lion's share of our attention."
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