Citrix announced Wednesday the direction for its next generation of NetScaler SDX for software-defined networks (SDN), as well as a partnership with Palo Alto Networks to simplify how companies can accelerate application delivery.
Introduced last year, NetScaler SDX allows customers to run as many as 40 independent NetScaler application delivery controller instances on a single multi-tenant SDX hardware appliance with full isolation. Citrix bought NetScaler in 2005. NetScaler SDX delivers applications from a data center.
Opening Up NetScaler
SDNs move network control and intelligence from switches into a more flexible software layer, providing a more scalable control and lowering hardware costs. Citrix is opening up the NetScaler platform to support services from third-party vendors, which is expected to lead to greater application intelligence within SDN technologies.
Citrix said that partners who are extending their network and security services to the next-gen NetScaler SDX platform include Aruba Networks, BlueCat Networks, CSE Secure Systems, RSA, Splunk, Trend Micro, Venafi and Websense.
Sunil Potti, vice president and general manager of the Citrix Cloud Networking Platforms Group, said in a statement that SDN has the potential to deliver a new level of flexibility, "but if an SDN is not app-aware, it cannot deliver on its promise." Potti added that the next-generation NetScaler SDX platform provides the application intelligence necessary to "make emerging SDN deployments truly app-driven."
In addition to developing an end-to-end cloud delivery platform, the Citrix-Palo Alto partnership will also result in collaboration across technical support teams, consulting organizations and partner communities.
Palo Alto Networks provides next-gen firewall technology that allows organizations to identify, control and safely enable applications, including the real-time inspection of content for restricted material or other threats.
Validated Joint Solutions
By combining their strengths, Citrix and Palo Alto said they will be able to deliver native application intelligence, template-based management and high performance that will optimally deliver any application to any employee. The multi-phase relationship will begin with validated joint solutions for virtual application and desktop virtualization solutions, starting with Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop.
Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT, pointed out that Citrix is most likely reacting to such acquisitions as VMware's purchase of Nicira a few months ago, followed by Oracle buying Xsigo.
"What Citrix is doing here," he said, "is taking another step into this SDN space through a partnership rather than through an acquisition," as well as through the opening up of NetScaler.
King noted that, while the "SDN space is still in development," he wasn't sure how much demand there currently is for a Citrix solution.
Virtualization is important to delivering and managing applications to such a wide variety of devices, King said, because "if you virtualize your network, you can create a single view of the network connecting to your background," thus making it less onerous to interface with a variety of mobile platforms.