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Four Implications CIOs Must Consider Before Moving “Direct-to-Cloud”

July 12, 2013 - 3 min read

In my last post, I discussed how mobility, cloud applications and social networks are eroding the network perimeter. Employees embracing these trends bypass appliance-based network and security devices to connect directly to third-party networks and cloud services.Image

Zscaler refers to this as going “Direct-to-Cloud” and has developed its Direct-to-Cloud Network explicitly to provide security, visibility and control over these environments while maintaining user productivity and even improving network performance. As users embrace the Direct-to-Cloud mentality, CIOs would be wise not to resist it, but rather to enable these technologies and trends.

At first glance it can be intimidating. The disappearing network perimeter makes it difficult to manage and protect users. Traditional appliances cannot deliver visibility into mobile devices and create a choke point for cloud applications, but prohibiting access to Internet resources will simply encourage users to bypass enterprise controls.

Implementing a Direct-to-Cloud Network is the logical progression from appliance-based networking and security; however, savvy CIOs should realize the benefits of this transformative technology are far greater than security, including:

Enable technology while maintaining control: Without a Direct-to-Cloud Network, CIOs may seem restrictive, rejecting BYOD and cloud computing initiatives because of concerns about visibility and control. Indeed, the proliferation of mobile and cloud technologies has shifted control to the user (or at least removed it from IT), but adopting a Direct-to-Cloud Network minimizes the risk of fully leveraging the cloud, while enabling the productivity benefits provided by mobile and cloud technologies. The end result is a satisfying user experience with ample visibility and control for IT.

The resources to fuel new business initiatives: CIOs are constrained by limited resources; man hours better spent on implementing strategy must be devoted to managing network and security appliances and budgets must be allocated to maintaining basic infrastructure. The Direct-to-Cloud Network frees both of these resources by consolidating management and eliminating costly hardware, providing more time for strategic planning and the money for implementation.

The big payoff: For CIOs that are sophisticated enough to rethink their legacy network architecture, there is the potential for significant cost saving by eliminating Internet traffic backhaul to centralized or regional data centers. It may seem easier to maintain the status quo by continuing to build existing global infrastructure. The increased use of the cloud presents the opportunity to leverage Direct-to-Cloud infrastructure, rather than incur costly backhaul over MPLS networks.

The agility to outmaneuver competition:  The ability to innovate and adopt new technologies that accelerate innovation is what separates market leaders from their followers or enables new competitors to challenge established players. Adopting a Direct-to-Cloud Network moves infrastructure into the cloud, enabling the ability to quickly adapt to market forces that threaten slower competitors.

Security appliances simply cannot meet the needs of the rapidly-changing, global and mobile enterprise. The solution to securely scaling an increasingly-distributed business may not lie in the purchase of more hardware and software. IT departments must shift from a mentality of “block vs. allow” to “manage and monitor.”

The Zscaler Direct-to-Cloud Network shifts security away from static appliances that increasingly create choke points for Internet traffic and costly backhaul. Instead, it is a worldwide network that surrounds the Internet, bi-directionally inspecting all end user traffic, regardless of location or device, even traffic that is SSL encrypted.

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