Office 365 helps organisations to reduce their hardware footprint and IT burden and shifts the responsibility for software reliability and availability over to Microsoft. The platform enhances productivity and collaboration by assisting organisations to operate in novel ways that boost efficiency and speed. Ultimately, that leads to organisations becoming more innovative and competitive.
Organisations migrate to Office 365 as they strive for less complexity. IT and business leaders intend to achieve better outcomes by providing access to the tools users require. Cloud apps deliver on that promise and reduce many of the difficulties in managing applications. Office 365 offers a range of benefits across the organisation, and it automates various administrative tasks.
However, organisations that add to their stack of security appliances to handle increases in traffic and bandwidth usage are, in turn, seeing rising administration complexity and IT helpdesk tickets. With the promise of reduced server overhead, lower administration costs and the avoidance of hardware upgrades and software costs, more organisations are migrating to Office 365.
At the same time, Office 365 increases bandwidth consumption and creates numerous resource-heavy network connections. Typically, organisations prepare for Office 365 as they prepare for other SaaS applications, by increasing bandwidth and upgrading firewalls. However, Office 365 is unlike other SaaS apps and most of the organisations found that a greater investment was required for implementation than initially anticipated.
|Scott Robertson, Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan for Zscaler|
Data Storage Asean spoke to Scott Robertson, Vice President of Asia Pacific and Japan for Zscaler to get his opinions on why migration challenges to Office 365 persist, along with Microsoft deployment recommendations and solutions that have been proven to overcome these challenges.
According to Scott, many organisations that deployed Office 365 did not account for the increase in bandwidth consumption, nor did they understand that Office 365 creates many resource-heavy network connections. As a result, they incurred additional costs from network infrastructure upgrades and equipment at the gateways. Also, each Microsoft Office 365 user can initiate a dozen or more persistent connections simultaneously, which can overwhelm even newly upgraded equipment, especially as the use of Microsoft Office 365 applications and services increases.
To avert deployment delays faced in Office 365, Scott said organisations should upgrade their existing gateway appliances in anticipation of a significant increase in direct network connections before deploying Office 365.
“Backhauling traffic through centralised data centres creates a poor user experience. But, while a direct connection to the internet is convenient for users, it raises security concerns, which is where Zscaler can help.”
Scott pointed out that because Office 365 generates tremendous traffic, network congestion can be a challenge. Even if appliances and firewalls have been upgraded, they are not equipped to handle the immense increase in bandwidth consumption brought on by Microsoft Office 365.
Managing the internet should be a prerogative for organisations as they should think differently about re-routing and handling network traffic. While Microsoft recommends sending Office 365 traffic directly to the internet, which keeps internal network congestion to a minimum, Scott explained that routing traffic to a regional data centre may mean that the data travels thousands of miles away before it reaches the Microsoft cloud. Office 365 was designed to be located as close to the user as possible, but traditional networks usually cannot deliver that advantage.
“Organisations that shift to a direct-to-internet network incur less wide area network (WAN) costs. Zscaler offers the benefit of more than 150 data centres, including a 100GB data centre in Singapore.”
Scott added that to simplify Office 365 migration, organisations can route their traffic automatically to Zscaler, which ensures that the company’s data is safe and secure. The Zsclaer cloud security platform provides a better security posture than that for a complex network, as well as provides a materially better user experience. By not backhauling traffic, but directly using the internet, organisations have driven down costs by 70%.
“Once an entity decides to deploy the Zscaler cloud-delivered security as a service, the migration is far simpler than deploying hardware and software. Zscaler provides an advisory service and workshop that helps educate system architects, engineers, security teams and privacy and policy leaders to enable a fast and smooth migration.”
Interestingly, Scott also pointed out that Zscaler provides cloud-delivered security as a service, meaning organisations can deploy any service.
“Zscaler helps organisations to stay fully compliant with their corporate and regulatory policies. Every day, the Zscaler cloud processes more than 70 billion transactions from thousands of customers around the globe, protecting them against zero-day threats, data loss, policy breaches and more. There are 120,000 unique updates uploaded each day to the cloud to protect customers in Singapore.”
Another key challenge today is that most data is encrypted, and it is difficult for organisations to inspect encrypted traffic with traditional appliances. Zscaler inspects SSL traffic at scale, protecting customers from the increasing number of threats hiding in encrypted traffic. In six months, the Zscaler cloud blocked 1.7 billion SSL threats for our customers.
In addition to that, Zscaler recently announced a partnership with CrowdStrike, a leader in cloud-delivered endpoint protection. CrowdStrike’s AI-powered Threat Graph will integrate with Zscaler’s cloud security platform to provide customers with real-time threat detection and automated policy enforcement that improves security across their networks and endpoints.
According to a press release on the partnership, joint customers will benefit from the partnership by being able to easily leverage each company’s offerings to secure their organisations through rich conditional access, which prevents infected or non-compliant devices from obtaining corporate resources until appropriate remediation has taken place. The integration will also provide customers with automated one-click access to CrowdStrike’s endpoint telemetry, SSL inspection on the endpoint, always-on threat protection with real-time intelligence, and visibility into endpoints with zero-day indicators of compromise (IOCs) identified by Zscaler.