MCNC Secures Over 1.5 Million Students and Staff Access from Anywhere with the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange
Formerly National Oilwell Varco, NOV supplies technical equipment and services to the global oil and gas industry. The Fortune 500 company conducts operations in more than 500 locations across six continents. The company’s informal mantra: “We power the industry that powers the world.”
Saves tens of millions of dollars by eliminating hardware and simplifying security
Gives employees and contractors direct, policy-based access to 7,500+ apps
Slashes cyber risk with SSL decryption, sandboxing, intrusion prevention and zero trust
Shrinks machine reimaging from 100 times each month to less than two times
Improves user experience and mobile workforce productivity
Simplifies security administration with policy-based controls
Our secure digital transformation has made NOV’s business a lot more agile, saved millions of dollars, and reduced our cyber risk. I can proudly say we are overachieving on our zero trust goals.
Powering the industry that powers the world—from homeRead the Blog
NOV’s transformation to cloud and zero trust, extended cut
CIO Alex Philips on NOV’s secure transformation journeyRead CXO Journey
Looking past the old world of IT to help your company thrive
Cutting endpoint reimaging to near zero with Zscaler
As a supplier to the global energy industry, NOV’s fortunes are inexorably tied to fluctuating global commodities markets. After oil prices plummeted several years ago, NOV Chief Information Officer Alex Philips and his team faced a straightforward challenge: Do more with less. Much less.
They sought to reduce the burden of legacy technical debt and slash historically high costs, while simultaneously adding more capabilities and improving security for their worldwide organization. Thus, the Houston, Texas-based company began exploring a digital transformation.
“Like many enterprises, we had a legacy IT environment connected with hub-and-spoke networks protected by a castle-and-moat security model,” said CIO Philips. “It was expensive and not flexible enough for our increasingly mobile and dynamic business. I needed to reduce cost, improve security, and make life easier for both our users and IT administrators. And I needed [a solution that would] work all the time.”
NOV decided to take what it calls a “smart cloud usage approach”—that is, moving to the cloud where and when it makes sense, and on the company’s own terms. The company’s initial step was to transition its workforce to Microsoft 365 and to implement the cloud-native Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange and its Zscaler Internet Access (ZIA) service for safe, fast access to the Internet and SaaS applications, such as M365.
The ZIA service provided NOV with a secure service edge (SSE) model that optimized SaaS access and provided critical security stack functionality, such as comprehensive inspection of incoming and outgoing SSL/TLS-encrypted data, sandboxing, and data loss protection. It also helped accelerate NOV’s Microsoft 365 rollout and improved users’ experience.
“Zscaler peers with Microsoft globally,” explained Philips. “So we got more rapid access to resources, which was huge for us.”
With ZIA providing secure internet connectivity and validating the commitment to ‘smart-cloud’ migration, NOV began phase two of its digital transformation. To reduce data traffic in its overburdened corporate data centers and secure remote access to internal applications, Philips and NOV IT stakeholders began rolling out Zscaler Private Access (ZPA), another Zero Trust Exchange service.
NOV’s on-premises legacy remote access solution had been designed to handle up to 2,000 users at any one time, a volume that had only been neared during regional weather events like an ice storm or flood. Moving to ZPA opened a world of future capacity—capacity that would soon become essential. ZPA would also eventually replace VPNs across NOV’s global enterprise and provide secure, policy-based access to more than 7,500 applications.
By implementing the Zero Trust Exchange and its ZIA and ZPA services, NOV introduced a higher level of security, enabling secure remote access for both employees and third-party contractors. “Many of our users work outside of our network,” notes Philips. “With Zscaler, we were able to deploy [the Zscaler Client Connector] on all these endpoints and those users were protected no matter where they were.”
Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange immediately gave us resiliency and increased our security posture. … resulting in millions of dollars of savings, faster connections, and direct access to SaaS applications.
“My team’s job is to enable our amazing colleagues to access their mission-critical applications and data securely anytime, anywhere, on almost any device,” explains Philips. “Being a critical supply chain partner to the energy industry means continuity is not a buzzword or checkbox, but a necessity at all times.”
With a broad base of operations and more than 500 offices, NOV was particularly vulnerable to global market ramifications of the coronavirus outbreak. Operationally, Philips and his IT team suddenly had to support a drastically different new reality: 27,500 employees around the world all needing remote access to work from anywhere. Immediately.
After COVID-19 shut down China facilities, Philips assembled his now-remote team. They all expressed confidence in NOV’s ability to respond to the crisis with the Zero Trust Exchange. “I was able to go to my leadership team and say that all 27,500 of our users, if they need to work remotely, they can do it,” recalled Philips. As for the execs, he continued, “they were absolutely stunned.”
The hardware savings were massive. … 'Appliance hell' is gone.
With remote-access readiness confirmed, Philips and team recognized an unexpected challenge. Approximately 30% of the company’s staff (engineers in particular) used powerful desktop machines, not just laptops. Often, these desktop systems contained expensive or proprietary software, making it harder to take work off site.
The NOV CIO had to “face the reality that our engineers would have to take their engineering systems home with them to continue working — How are they going to connect back to corporate resources?” Many of the desktops lacked Wi-Fi capabilities, and few were equipped with the software to access needed remote resources.
“We quickly had to push out the ZPA client and instruct everyone ‘Okay, take a long ethernet cable home or go grab a USB Wi-Fi adapter,’” says Philips. “We did this in a couple of locations, and it worked very, very well.”
Once employees were equipped with the necessary tools, NOV’s rapid transition to a remote-access workforce went smoothly, with the number of ZPA concurrent user connections increasing 4.5 times over a 16-day period as the first 9,000 NOV employees began connecting to corporate applications and data resources simultaneously. “Zscaler was able to adapt quickly and increase capacity to more than satisfy our needs,” noted Philips.
We’re extremely excited about what lies ahead for us, and how we’re preparing for our zero trust journey.
“Our whole [digital transformation] journey was about cost savings,” said Philips. And NOV did reap cost savings—tens of millions of dollars of savings in MPLS equipment and branch hardware appliances alone.
“The hardware savings were massive for us,” confirmed Philips. “There is no end of life. No upgrading and patching. Zscaler handles it for us. The team can now focus on other projects like SD-WAN transformation. … ‘Appliance hell’ is gone.”
In addition, zero trust security saves NOV time in other ways. One example: in the past the company had to reimage an average of 100 machines each month due to ransomware or other malware infections—a huge waste of resources in Philip’s opinion. Now the company averages one or two reimages monthly. Policy-based controls also simplify security administration and systems management.
NOV’s decision to implement the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange not only cut costs but set the stage for the future. “Our secure digital transformation has made NOV’s business a lot more agile, saved millions of dollars, and reduced our cyber risk,” said Philips. “I can proudly say we are overachieving on our zero trust goals.”
Since it is easy to augment the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange with additional cloud security functionality, NOV can confidently move forward into the next phases in its digital transformation, such as securing a SD-WAN or workloads in the public cloud. “We’re extremely excited about what lies ahead for us, and how we’re preparing for our zero trust journey,” concludes Philips.