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Citrix bolsters security with better routing in NetScaler SD-WAN

Banks and medical centers can use the advanced routing features in Citrix's NetScaler SD-WAN to protect traffic to critical applications.

Citrix has introduced more advanced routing in the latest upgrade of the company's NetScaler SD-WAN. The security feature lets companies segment network paths to isolate traffic to critical applications.

This week, Citrix unveiled NetScaler SD-WAN 9.1. Along with better routing capabilities, the vendor has simplified the deployment of the software-defined WAN product.

The network segmentation feature is Citrix's implementation of a technology called virtual routing and forwarding. VRF segregates traffic, so, for example, patient records can move from a medical clinic to a healthcare provider's data center over a separate virtual private network.

Financial institutions would also find NetScaler SD-WAN's VRF capabilities useful, according to Citrix. Banks, for example, could use the technology to set up separate network paths for mortgage and commercial operations. In this way, bankers could comply with government regulations that require financial companies to run the two businesses separately.

NetScaler SD-WAN customers segment networks through the product's management console. "You go to one place to separate all the applications," said Chalan Aras, product general manager at Citrix.

SD-WAN as network overlay

Like similar products, NetScaler SD-WAN is deployed as a network overlay that can provide WAN optimization and routing without the need to rip and replace underlying networking hardware, said Rohit Mehra, an analyst at IDC. Companies are likely to consider NetScaler as a replacement for outdated routers in branch offices or as a router alternative in new locations.

"You can include the routing function as part of your SD-WAN," Mehra said.

Citrix also introduced what it calls dynamic routing. Dynamic routing means a company can use NetScaler SD-WAN to route traffic from some applications, while leaving others on existing routers. Citrix is letting customers use multiple routing systems so they can add applications to NetScaler at their pace, Aras said. Most enterprises see the slow migration option as a "low-risk path."

Zero-touch deployment

Also new in NetScaler SD-WAN is a feature Citrix calls Zero Touch Deployment Services. In essence, Citrix has connected the product to its data center so customers can log into the company's site and set configurations for each NetScaler SD-WAN appliance deployed in a branch office.

Using the cloud-based configuration management option makes it easier to roll out changes to multiple appliances or to install a new device. Accomplishing the latter is done by plugging an internet connection into the hardware and having preset configurations downloaded automatically. "We're really simplifying how these appliances can be deployed," Aras said.

Finally, Citrix announced a partnership with cloud-based security vendor Zscaler Inc. Citrix provides integration with the Zscaler gateway that provides URL filtering, firewall protection and other security features for all branch-office traffic between NetScaler SD-WAN and the public internet.

Citrix has released the software version of NetScaler SD-WAN 9.1. Next month, the company plans to release a physical appliance, called the NetScaler SD-WAN 410, along with a technology preview of the Zero Touch Deployment Service.

Citrix has priced NetScaler SD-WAN at less than $1,000 a year, including the appliance, installation and maintenance.

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