Customer Case Study

Ciena Secures Traffic, Boosts Employee Engagementwith Zscaler and VMware

Zero Trust App Access Stop Cyberattacks Protect Data Zero Trust SD-WAN Optimize Digital Experiences


  • Company: Ciena
  • Industry: Telecommunications
  • HQ: Hanover, Maryland, USA
  • Size: 6,600+ employees in 35 countries


Ciena is a networking systems, services, and software company that delivers best-in-class networking technology through high-touch consultative relationships. The company enables its customers to optimize their existing frameworks while incorporating new technologies and ways of working.


  • Maintains identical security for employees at the branch office or remote locations

  • Inspects the 70% of its traffic that is SSL-encrypted

  • Reduces application latency by 20%

  • Doubles meeting participation

  • Cuts costs by 50%

See More Information

Additional Content

Customer Video

Ciena's digital transformation journey


More than one challenge

Ciena CEO Gary B. Smith presented his IT team with a challenge—help raise the engagement level of all employees, specifically during daily meetings. After receiving peer feedback that employee engagement rose dramatically when they employed video for internal meetings, the IT team turned their attention to more broadly deploying the use of video. 

But the Ciena IT team quickly realized that it had another challenge staring them in the face. Adding video conferencing at its more than 70 locations around the globe, along with the increasing amount of traffic attempting to access cloud-based applications, was going to tax its legacy hub-and-spoke topology. 

“We knew that we would need to make some adjustments to our existing infrastructure to support this move to video,” said Henry Ku, Senior Director of IT infrastructure at Ciena. “We began exploring solutions featuring a cloud-first approach that would best fit us.”

Working with VeloCloud and Zscaler, we were able to reduce application latency by 20% while having high-value security available from anywhere, anytime, anyplace on any device.

Ed DeGrange, Principal Security Architect, Ciena

Proven partners

The research done by Mr. Ku and his team led them to adopt SD-WAN as part of the company’s cloud transformation. “OurSD-WAN would  give us internet connectivity at every local site, taking us from our legacy hub-and-spoke architecture and moving to direct internet connectivity,” said Ed DeGrange, Principal CyberSecurity Architect at Ciena. 

Ciena determined that the joint solution of the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange platform and VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud would enable employee access at all global locations while ensuring all traffic is secured. “When Zscaler came in, they did not just focus on the security team, they brought the rest of IT along with them.” Ku said. “That got us invested early-on to make sure that security is not somebody else’s job. It’s all our jobs in IT. Having trusted industry leaders by our side was a big plus for Ciena. 

“The benefit of having VeloCloud and Zscaler working closely together with us was huge,” Ku said. “Their experience made the process much smoother. And they focus on the customer as much as the technology, if not more so. If we had a problem, one phone call is all it took to bring everyone together to quickly solve the issue.”

With Zscaler, we were able to take advantage of the scalability of the cloud … low latency … [and] SSL traffic inspected from day one.

Ed DeGrange, Principal Security Architect, Ciena

Shrinking latency by 20%

The Zscaler and VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud solution allowed Ciena to enable secure local internet breakouts at all its global locations, reducing latency by 20 percent and providing a dramatically improved experience for its employees. “The key features we were looking for specifically were low-latency solutions, high-value security available from anywhere, anytime, anyplace on any device, and making it easy for our users to get those connections,” DeGrange said. 

With Zscaler and VMware SD-WAN by VeloCloud, Ciena was able to simplify its branch IT operations and rapidly deploy new locations and services with cloud-controlled, centralized security and WAN management. And because SD-WAN security is provided as a cloud-delivered service, all users in all locations get identical protection—including access control, threat prevention, native SSL inspection, and data protection.

Key features we were looking for: low-latency, high-value security available from anywhere, anytime, anyplace on any device, and making it easy for users.

Ed DeGrange, Principal Security Architect, Ciena

Doubling employee engagement while reducing cost 50%

“SSL inspection was a critical feature for us,” said DeGrange . Over 70 percent of our traffic today is SSL encrypted, and that was visibility we didn’t have in our organization. And the on-prem solutions we had were not easily scaled to support that SSL inspection.

“Even if we did it today, tomorrow it would be out-of-date,” DeGrange added. “With Zscaler, we were able to take advantage of the scalability of the cloud, the low-latency solutions that they bring to the table, and get that SSL traffic inspected from day one.” 

Along with all of these benefits, Ciena saw its costs reduced by 50 percent. “We knew that moving to the cloud would bring a host of benefits, but the cost benefit was even larger than we initially anticipated,” Ku said. 

And the challenge set forth by the CEO? Ku and his IT team met that challenge: Ciena saw employee participation double after launching video conferencing.