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Palo Alto Networks expands product range, partners with VMware

By Nicola Leske

(Reuters) - Security software maker Palo Alto Networks Inc, which went public in July, is teaming up with VMware Inc to expand its range of security products to virtual machines and networks.

The companies will announce the partnership at a Palo Alto Networks' industry event in Las Vegas on Tuesday.

The Palo Alto Networks VM-Series, which will be integrated with VMware's cloud computing virtualization operating system, vSphere, is aimed at providing network security in virtualized data centers.

Virtual technology allows a single computer to act like many "virtual" machines, thus expanding its capacity to run various types of software and multiple operating systems.

"We are now able to offer a full feature next generation firewall in a virtual machine data center," said Chris King, head of product marketing at Palo Alto Networks.

King added that customers' security policies could now be implemented, even when machines are changing hosts.

"Workloads migrating across physical machines is one of the problems that blows up network security," King said.

Palo Alto Networks sells firewalls to businesses that prevent data breaches and block malware and viruses but has been focused on hardware.

It coined the term "next generation firewall" (NGFW) to describe its products, which among other things, lets companies tightly control access to Internet applications for specific users.

Gartner analyst Neil MacDonald praised the move.

"To have a hardware centric vendor embrace virtualization is a monumental event," he said, adding that "there is a battle of control for virtual networks and security control is part of that battle," MacDonald said.

Larger rival Check Point Software Technologies Ltd has had a virtual security offering for about three years, the analyst said, but Palo Alto Networks' move did not come too late.

"It's late, but not too late," MacDonald said, adding that it was helpful that Palo Alto Networks had partnered with VMware.

"It absolutely helped a vendor like Trendmicro when it partnered with VMware and I expect the same to be true for Palo Alto," MacDonald said.

Palo Alto Networks is also updating its threat prevention offers with a subscription service to its WildFire cloud-based malware prevention service and will offer a mid-range next-generation firewall for businesses.

Cisco Systems inc and Juniper Networks Inc also compete in network security.

(Reporting by Nicola Leske; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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