Citrix Systems buys application firewall vendor Teros

Enterprise application delivery vendor Citrix Systems on Tuesday announced the acquisition of application security company Teros, with an eye on using that company's technology to bolster IT security for customers running Web-based applications.

Wes Wasson, vice president of marketing at Citrix, said the acquisition will allow the company to add robust protection for users by incorporating Teros' application firewall appliance to Citrix's Web-based NetScaler application delivery system.

That protection is critical, he said, because Web-based applications can leave a company's critical and private data more vulnerable to hackers. "The problem is that Web architecture is fairly porous and easy to exploit," Wasson said. "Applications link to all of this critical data. It's a perfect storm that has become extremely attractive for hackers."

Application firewalls differ from traditional firewalls, which only watch for suspicious activities that traverse the network, Wasson said. An application firewall can also watch for and stop attacks beyond the network level in underlying platform layers. And it can fend off attacks that use customized code.

Citrix is immediately rebranding the Teros product as Citrix NetScaler Application Firewall, and over the next year, the company plans to integrate the product into its NetScaler line. Pricing for the application firewall begins at US$45,000 per appliance, and customers usually buy two for redundancy, the company said. NetScaler starts at US$17,000 and typically ranges up to a cost of US$85,000 per installation.

Financial terms of the deal for five-year-old Teros were not released.

This marks the second major acquisition for Citrix this year. In June, it paid about $300 million in cash and stock for high-performance application networking company NetScaler. Before buying NetScaler, Citrix was known for its client/server application delivery technologies, but it's now expanding into the Web-based application marketplace.

Analysts said the deal adds an important component for the NetScaler product line.

Peter Christy, an analyst at Internet Research Group, said application firewalls are more comprehensive than traditional firewalls because they recognize more levels of attacks. Integrating the Teros firewall with its NetScaler line will yield a more coherent product that's easier for users to install and manage, he said.

Rob Whiteley, an analyst at Forrester Research, said that because application firewalls are higher in the IT stack, they can analyze and protect data at a higher level than traditional firewalls.

One problem for Citrix, though, is that it may be unclear who in the IT management chain is responsible for researching and incorporating application firewalls, he said. "It's just an evolving space, and a lot of clients don't understand its role in their architecture," Whiteley said.

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