Citrix Buys SSL Appliance Vendor

The deal is expected to benefit the channel partners of both companies, sources say.

Citrix, Fort Lauderdale, Fla., said the Net6 acquisition will provide it with an SSL access gateway as well as IP telephony and voice-over-IP solutions. The deal is expected to be completed by the end of the year, the company said.

As first reported by CRN in April, Citrix has been shopping around for an acquisition target in the SSL VPN space and had looked at other vendors such as Netsilica before going with Net6 of San Jose, Calif.

The purchase of Net6 will enable Citrix to fight off competition from SSL VPN vendors and round out the company's access strategy by giving customers access to all their corporate data. Citrix claims the installation and configuration of the client and appliance is simple and quick.

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Ross Brown, VP Worldwide Channels and Operations for Citrix, said there is no channel conflict because Net6 has a nascent channel strategy. He said Citrix will authorize its channel partners and resellers to sell Net6's Access Gateway in the near future. "Net6's go to market strategy now is largely an OEM play and their attraction is the Citrix channel,'" Brown said. "We will make the product available to our channel players."

Citrix said Net6's SSL Access Gateway will be sold as standalone access solution that complements the SmoothRoaming feature in the company's existing MetaFrame Access Suite and the upcoming SmartAccess feature due in the MetaFrame Access 4 Suite. MetaFrame Access Suite is due to ship in April, several partners said.

Net6's SSL Access Gateway, a hybrid VPN and alternative to IPSec and traditional SSL VPNs, provides secure access to applications from any device to any IT resource. Citrix's MetaFrame Secure Access Manager (MSAM) provides access to Citrix hosted applications only. Brown said Citrix will integrate the gateway with the company's MSAM and other access technologies but those decisions ahve not been finalized.

Net6's appliance combines IPSec and SSL VPN technology to enable secure remote tunneling from any environment. Many customers choose SSL VPN appliances over the Citrix offering because it gives them access to all network resources, partners note. "MSAM can't give you that today because it only provides access to applications and not the network,' said Mitch Northcutt, president of RapidApp, Chicago. "This gets Citrix over that hurdle, the objections that some people had about MSAM."

Other consultants say the deal will expand opportunities for partners of both companies. Net6's other key products, Application Gateway and Voice Office Application Suite, will provide application access to IP telephones and mobile devices from leading IP PBX vendors including Avaya, Cisco, Mitel, Nortel and Siemens. The Voice Office product allows customers to deliver applications to the screens and speakers of IP telephones.

With Net6, Citrix will give customers a single point of access and on demand access to both voice and data across any device type.

"Given the market position of Citrix, this will immediately make the Net6 VPN product -- which supports both SSL VPNs and IPSec VPNs -- a major market leader," said Adam Lipson, president and CEO of Network and Security Technologies, Pearl River, N.Y. "Citrix will be giving Net6 the opportunity to compete with the big guys like Cisco and Nortel. Further, Citrix has signaled their intention to compete more in that space by acquiring a company who has experience with IP telephony and mobile technology in addition to their VPN devices."

Citrix has thousand of consulting partners and resellers. In July, Net6 announced a new channel program designed to give partners a 30 percent margin on new sales. It's unclear how the deal might impact that but Citrix claims that Net6 will continue to operate in San Jose, Calif. led by current CEO Murli Thirumale.

Mark Templeton, CEO of Citrix, said during a conference call on Tuesday afternoon that it will offer the Access Gateway product to its value-added resellers beginning in the first quarter of 2005 and will make Net6 training materials available to those partners.

He said Citrix is hoping the appliance buy will enable Citrix to get a better foothold in the SMB market and add value to its MetaFrame Access Suite. "We can hit the ground running with this product and touch a lot of North American resellers," he said. "We're doing to offer it as a standalone ... there's lot of opportunity to do integration work and tie an access gateway into our management infrastructure and session managemnt and SmoothRoaming capabilities."

However, Citrix will retain the existing business model for the application gateway, which is sold only through carriers and IP PBX manufacturers.

Net6 said their typical size deal ranges from $5,000 to $10,000 on average. Net6 employs 27 and will be operated as Citrix Gateway Division out of San Jose, Calif.