Net6 was a company based out of San Jose, California that Citrix acquired in November 2004. I was part of the due diligence team that was sent to analyse the company from a technical point of view. This is a job that certain members from Citrix Advanced Products are requested to do from time to time. Citrix had already looked at two other SSL VPN companies by this time and there was a keen need to enter the market. Net6’s product was based on using appliance rack hardware to host Linux along with their software to provide SSL VPN access. One of the first things I hadn’t expected was that their product was not based on any custom hardware. The actual mechanism seemed sound. The company was fairly small with perhaps around 50 employees. The company was founded around 2000 by Murli Thirumale and was originally called something like “Web Unwired”. Feel free to correct me since I’m not sure. I’m doing this from memory so some of this bound to be wrong.
The company was purchased for 50 million dollars and eventually the product emerged as the Secure Access Gateway. The product line has been very popular with Citrix customers since it makes it easier to single source SSL VPN with the applications that will be remoted over these links. This was Citrix’s first venture into the appliance market which would be followed by NetScaler a few months later.
Previous to doing SSL VPN, Net6 had specialized in doing VOIP and digital PBX work with their Application Gateway product. They had a number of projects with Cisco, Avaya, and Nortel to provide access to IP phones and develop software solutions to drive them.
For the most part Citrix has underestimated the value of this work in its own product lines. Citrix still hasn’t engaged the VOIP market fully and perhaps that is fine given the focus on application delivery.
One last note to mention. Murli Thirumale has since left Citrix as of a couple of months ago.
The original press release from Citrix is included:
Citrix Completes Acquisition of Net6; Extends Leadership Role in Access Infrastructure Market
Acquisition Will Simplify Secure On-demand Access to Voice, Data and Applications from Any Device, Location or Scenario
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — 12/9/2004 — Citrix Systems Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS), the global leader in access infrastructure solutions, today announced it has completed the acquisition of privately held Net6 Inc., a leader in providing secure access gateways. The acquisition extends Citrix’s ability to provide easy and secure access to any resource, both data and voice, on-demand.
The combination of Net6™ products and Citrix’s existing access infrastructure solutions will enable Citrix to offer an unrivaled end-to-end access infrastructure system for voice, data and applications on a single, common gateway that can be accessed securely from a wide range of devices.
“This is another step for Citrix in our strategy to address the access infrastructure market through growth and acquisition,” said Mark Templeton, president and chief executive officer for Citrix.
“Net6 technology will help us secure the last mile of computing, simplify access for users, and allow enterprises to manage and accommodate more end user access scenarios.”
This acquisition accelerates, in four key ways, Citrix’s strategy to define and lead the access infrastructure market:
- Net6’s SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Access Gateway will allow Citrix to offer a secure, always-on, simple and cost-effective single point-of-access that is complementary to existing Citrix® MetaFrame® solutions.
- Net6’s Application Gateway™ product will allow Citrix to enter the market for accessing IP (Internet protocol) voice and data applications from IP screen phones, from IP-based soft phones and from small screen-factor devices like PDAs.
- Citrix gains new competencies in IP telephony, application user interface transformation and packaging of “software-as-an-appliance.”
- Citrix will be able to give Net6’s products broader customer exposure, international reach and the powerful Citrix brand.
On Nov. 23, 2004, Citrix announced a definitive agreement to purchase Net6 Inc. for approximately $50 million in cash. Net6 will continue to operate in San Jose, Calif., as the Citrix Gateways Division. Murli Thirumale, president and chief executive officer for Net6, will report to Mark Templeton as vice president and general manager of the division.