Palo Alto Networks has launched the latest version of its operating system, PAN-OS. The firewall vendor said that the new enhancements would improve the options available for enterprises, offering them new ways to handle applications.

The new operating system has two new features: application shaping - using quality of service - and a fully integrated SSL VPN that the company said would improve remote access.

The main feature introduced by PAN-OS 3.0 is traffic shaping. This will enabling enterprises to ensure that priority is given to business critical functions, offering organisations a more flexible approach to applications: allowing, denying, resticting, and in the new release, shaping.

Lee Klarich, vice president of Product Management for Palo Alto said that the traffic shaping technology would "guarantee priorities for important applications as well 'deprioritise' non-essential ones."

Companies wanted more sophistication, he said, with certain applications getting a higher priority, or some departments getting a high priority.

He said that companies wanted some flexibility. "For example," said Klarich, "some companies might want to allow BitTorrent as a means of distributing software or some companies would want to ban social media sites like Facebook to all but the marketing department."

In addition to the traffic shaping and the VPNs, there are some other new features added to the firewall, among them the ability for Palo Alto users to add their own approved applications to the company's apps library. Previously users had to stick with Palo Alto's own list of applications.

The new software, which is a free upgrade to existing users, reinforces Palo Alto's belief that the firewall must become more sophisticated; "the firewall hasn't changed for 15 years," said Klarich. "We're introducing a new way of looking at things."