Delivering many kinds of applications to many kinds of devices — securely and without inconvenience to the end users — are challenges for IT departments. But maybe this news from Citrix will help. The company just announced that Palo Alto Networks’ next-gen firewall in virtual form factor is available to protect delivery on its NetScaler SDX platform.

NetScaler SDX is a cloud-based, multi-tenant application delivery controller designed to provide a variety of applications, each having different requirements, and each delivered independently to the user from a single multi-tenant hardware appliance. Citrix got the technology when it bought Netscaler in 2005.

The availability of the firewall on Palo Alto Networks’ continues a partnership between the two companies that began in 2012 with joint deployments of virtual application and desktop virtualization solutions.

The Factory Entrances

Graham Melville, director of product marketing for NetScaler at Citrix, told CMSWire NetScaler’s security previously involved “some basic access control based on ports and protocol.” He compared it to “a factory with an entrance for management and another for factory workers.” Management, he analogized, would dress up and go through the designated entrance while the factory workers would wear work clothes and enter through their own.  But if either switched clothes, he could enter through the wrong door. “That’s how our old firewall worked,” he said.

In contrast, the new Palo Alto Networks firewall, according to that company’s Director of Solutions Marketing Danelle Au, offers better protection against “port hopping” and other threats that result from “a fundamental shift in user behavior, how users come into the network and the evolving landscape” of the Bring-Your-Own-Device environment.

‘App Provider of Choice’

The new firewall, she told us, can “identify a specific app and enable it for a specific group.” This flexibility makes it easier to provision and de-provision each application and its firewall. Melville said the goal is to provide “any user on any device, in any location, with any resource.”

Charles King, an analyst with industry research firm Pund-IT, noted that Citrix, which now bills itself as “the cloud computing company,” has positioned itself in the age of the cloud as the “desktop and application provider of choice.”

NetScaler, he said, is “an employee-centric view of the cloud” that allows companies to say that “whether you are using a smartphone, laptop or tablet, the application is available securely,” even when the application requires different policies.