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Where does Citrix fit into the SSL VPN landscape?

Recently, there's been a lot of discussion about SSL VPNs. However, most discussions center around products marketed specifically as SSL VPNs like Neoteris, Cisco SSL VPN, etc. Do you see Citrix fitting into the SSL VPN category with its secure gateway solution? If not, what differentiates an SSL VPN product from Citrix's solution?
Several considerations need to be addressed prior to making this type of decision: How many clients are there? What network infrastructure is already in place? What is the maturity of the product? What is the potential ROI?

At this time I'm not sure the Citrix solution can handle large amounts of traffic say as a Cisco (or other vendor) SSL accelerator. It is fine to run software solutions with low numbers of clients, but as that number increases so does the number crunching power and hardware solutions that are necessary. I've read numerous articles where Citrix has issues with assigning dynamic ports through other than approved Citrix hardware. Although this is the case now, I'm sure this is just a hiccup along the way of the product lifecycle.

You must consider the hardware already in place on the network. If you have Cisco in place (or some other vendor) consider that vendor's solution first. Better to put a square peg in a square hole!

Citrix is a mature product, but is the VPN solution as mature as you would like? Again, if the number of clients is low, I'm sure you are fine, but if the number of clients is high, ensure you stick with hardware accelerators.

Finally, all the above comments must fit into the cost vs. benefit (or return on investment). The number of clients, compatibility with the current network and maturity of the product must be considered and have equal weight in the decision as well. Although Citrix is a mature product and has its own space in the market just remember to consider the questions from above when making the choice for SSL VPN.

For more info on this topic, visit these SearchSecurity.com resources:

  • Network Security Tip: SSL VPNs and client-application authentication
  • Featured Topic: VPNs -- IPsec vs. SSL
This was last published in May 2004

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