Palo Alto Networks Expands Security Platform With New Application Framework, GlobalProtect Offerings

Palo Alto Networks is vastly expanding its security platform with the launch of a new Application Framework and cloud-based services, the company announced Tuesday.

"We have done an amazing job applying absolute consistent security and efficiencies in our security platform. What we now have an opportunity to do is essentially unleash new innovation on top of that platform," said Scott Simkin, senior group manager, threat intelligence cloud and security subscriptions.

Palo Alto Networks made the announcements at its Ignite 2017 event, held in Vancouver, Canada.

[Related: Palo Alto Networks Launches New Venture Fund, Looks To Build Security Platform Ecosystem]

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The Application Framework will be similar in concept to frameworks offered by vendors such as Salesforce and Amazon Web Services, allowing any security provider to build cloud-based applications on top of the platform. Palo Alto Networks will provide cloud APIs, software services and compute to deliver the developed apps to customers, he said.

Simkin said the Application Framework would allow security providers to build applications for specific use cases, including identification, analytics, and incident response. By building applications on the platform instead of point products, Simkin said developers could leverage the threat intelligence, user base, infrastructure, and data stores that are part of the Palo Alto Networks platform instead of starting from scratch.

"Palo Alto Networks isn't the only one making this [platform anymore ... It's an entire market of entrepreneurs and developers," Simkin said. "[We're] vastly expanding the Palo Alto Networks platform." Palo Alto Networks expects to make the platform generally available in January 2018.

Simkin said Palo Alto Networks already has more than 35 different application developers committed to developing on the Palo Alto Networks Application Framework. Some of the partners already signed up include Accenture, Aruba, Carbon Black, Crowdstrike, ForeScout, Proofpoint, Phantom, and Splunk. He said developers can include ISVs and large companies, as well as partners and managed security services providers. Palo Alto Networks will further encourage developers to work on the platform with the launch of the Palo Alto Networks Venture Fund.

Palo Alto Networks also announced the launch of a GlobalProtect cloud service. The launch allows partners and customers to bring GlobalProtect's traffic visibility, policy enforcement, threat prevention, WildFire, and other security capabilities to remote offices and mobile users with a cloud-based service. Palo Alto Networks will manage a multi-tenant, cloud-based infrastructure, and partners or customers can buy the service according to bandwidth requirements.

The launch of the GlobalProtect cloud service is a recognition by Palo Alto Networks that more employees are accessing corporate networks outside of the traditional perimeter walls, Matt Keil, Palo Alto Networks' Director of Product Marketing for Public Cloud, said. He said the new service would allow enterprises to bring the same corporate security policies to remote locations and mobile users.

"The benefit to partners is that it addresses a small segment of the market that we might be missing out on," Keil said. "This fills that gap in our portfolio of a very easy to deploy, operationally efficient security feature. It also allows that customer to move towards a more predictable operational expense model for security." Keil said Palo Alto Networks is not looking to move into the service provider space with the launch. The GlobalProtect cloud service will be available to all NextWave channel partners, with targeted general availability in August 2017.

John Marler, COO at Houston, Texas-based Set Solutions, said he is glad to see Palo Alto Networks continuing to expand its security platform. In particular, said the new Application Framework would help make the platform "more interesting to everyone."

"I think it's great," Marler said. "Palo Alto Networks today already has an absolutely best-of-breed API in terms of how they manage the platform, so extending that to application integration is really exciting … This will help them continue their roll."