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The world's data is growing by the minute and is more dispersed than ever. By 2025, the 120 zettabytes generated in 2023 are expected to increase by over 150%, reaching 181 zettabytes (Statista). And humans are not slowing down. Statista also reported that every person will create 97 zettabytes of data by the end of 2023 (eWeek/Statista).

Not only that, but a rapidly growing remote workforce adds to the challenges of managing and securing data, as IT leaders must ensure their applications and data are accessible and secure wherever and whenever needed. In 2022, a (Gallup) study showed that most remote-capable employees continued to work from home at least part of the time. 42% had a hybrid schedule, and 39% worked from home (Gallup). Moreover, according to (McKinsey), when people have the chance to work flexibly, 87% of them take it. This dynamic is widespread across demographics, occupations, and geographies. So, why does that matter?  

If you have standard network and security infrastructure, you are likely finding that it was not built to handle your multitudes of users who need instant access to resources around the globe. Your legacy infrastructure within your data center cannot follow connections between users and cloud applications. If you send your users through a VPN, you also see how that can lead to latency. You may also find your users are easier to exploit due to a lack of patching. Plus, it's no secret that administration and hardware maintenance are expensive. So, where does that leave your organization? 

Consider turning to Security Service Edge (SSE) for help. Gartner defined SSE as a convergence of network security services delivered from a purpose-built cloud platform. SSE is a subset of the Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) framework, with its architecture focused on security services. SSE delivers three core services: a secure web gateway (SWG), cloud access security broker (CASB) and zero trust network access (ZTNA) framework. Your organization can start its SASE journey by focusing on the unified security features of SSE first and then incorporating the WAN (the A in SASE) to have a full SASE architecture.  

SSE can also help increase cloud adoption, offload security tasks, and deliver consistent user experiences no matter where your users are located. If you are planning on adopting SSE, you are not alone. 65% of organizations plan to adopt an SSE platform in the next 24 months, with 43% wanting to implement it before the end of 2023 (Help Net Security). Companies are finding that SSE services provide them with a way to reduce costs and reliance on their internal and external appliance stacks. 

Even with SSE, it helps to minimize the number of point solutions your company uses. It's common to see as many as 20-30 monitoring tools in some organizations, leading back to trouble managing and monitoring. With fewer monitoring tools and SSE to deliver SWG, CASB and a zero trust framework, you will ensure the best possible user experience and simplify management and monitoring.  

Common Security Team Challenges with Traditional Monitoring Tools

Traditional monitoring tools struggle to recognize the multitudes of applications running in the cloud, employees connecting from anywhere, and the need to connect to zero trust environments. These tools can fail because they lack visibility into zero trust environments. Traditional tools take a data center-centric approach to monitoring and collecting metrics from fixed sites rather than directly from the user device. This approach does not provide a unified view of performance based on a user device, network path, or application—thus creating blind spots for security teams, who must manually correlate information from disparate devices, networks, and applications.

If you're using traditional monitoring tools, you are likely familiar with these problems. They can be time-consuming, and if you cannot identify the root cause of an issue, it will linger until it becomes a bigger problem. 

The general pattern is you end up waiting for an issue to happen. You may suspect the application or the network, so you dive into those areas. But it could be something on one user's device. Meanwhile, there have been many escalations within IT to determine the root cause.  

So far, there has not been a solution to this problem until now.

Zscaler Digital Experience (ZDX) - A Monitoring and Visibility Game-changer

ZDX allows you to immediately see where an issue is located, whether on the network, application, or the end user's device. Monitor public or private SaaS applications, diagnose problems in real time, and oversee applications in your data center. You will also be able to monitor the health of your end users' devices and see what software is deployed where.  

Because ZDX leverages AI and ML to determine the root cause of a reported problem, your service desk analysts can expedite triage and resolution, preventing bottlenecks in L1 and L2 IT teams. Troubleshooting becomes easier when you can do it on your own. It could be as simple as a Wi-Fi issue for an individual user, or one of the branch offices may have network issues or an unresponsive application. You will gain the visibility you need to solve troubles sooner. 

Use Cases for ZDX

A quality monitoring tool such as ZDX helps bridge the gaps across an organization's ecosystem, leading to more comprehensive visibility and improved problem-solving.  

Following are use cases that show how end users can optimize performance and rapidly address application, network, and device issues as they occur. 

ZTNA Visibility

Since ZTNA is a framework within SSE, selecting an SSE solution that delivers comprehensive visibility within zero trust environments is critical to your overall zero trust strategy and the security and success of your business.  

ZDX actively monitors your applications from your end users' perspective. It continuously collects and analyzes performance metrics, including application availability, response times, network hop-by-hop performance metrics, and end-user device health metrics such as device configuration, CPU, memory usage, process information, and device events. As a result, your IT team gets uninterrupted visibility and saves time with proactive identification and resolution of end-user experience issues. 

Hybrid Workforce

In today's world, users expect a top-notch (hotel-type) experience no matter where they work. Remember, users are not static. Whether they come into the office or work from home, they need to know all their applications and data are secure—and that experience must feel seamless. This means whether it's your IT team, your service desk, or your network operations team, they need to be able to get to the root cause of any issue no matter where it happens. 

Consider desktop issues as an example. Microsoft has capabilities such as crash data, boot times, etc. ZDX absorbs that data into its platform, so IT teams do not need a separate tool to resolve anything happening on the desktop. 

Your end-user historical information is essential to track. You need to see across the timeframe of the user's day to determine if the issues happen all the time, regardless of their location. 

ZDX gives you this visibility and more—detecting issues that impact user experience, reducing mean time to resolution, and keeping your employees productive no matter where they are located. 

Proactively Monitor and Optimize Performance for Network Operations

Consider the network operations team that monitors the digital experience across the company's application and service portfolio. When they can see where specific applications such as Box, Workday, and OneDrive are performing well but then can identify end users in specific geographic locations that are struggling, they can immediately drill down to identify impacted regions. Once they can narrow it down to network latency between the telecommunications provider in that region, a specific ISP, and a Microsoft data * center, they can raise a ticket with Microsoft and immediately resolve the problem. 

Networking also leverages ZDX to run a packet capture on a remote user without disturbing them. There's no need to get on a Zoom call with the user, so they can save time. ZDX gives them a seamless way to get that done. 

UCaaS Monitoring

According to Metrigy research, 70% of businesses rely on virtual meetings. Companies need seamless access to Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Webex, etc. They come to WWT and Zscaler to provide insights into what's happening across those platforms. With UCaaS integration, they can access call quality metrics and network details such as latency and packet loss to improve end-user productivity and satisfaction.   

Resolving Poor User Experience 

The service desk can also leverage ZDX to help resolve poor user experience. Consider this scenario: Your CEO is traveling from the US to Australia, and she needs to connect to Microsoft Teams for the call. She reaches out to the service desk. With ZDX, they can look at a dashboard and see what's happening with that platform across a global view. 

The service desk might see that most company employees are not having issues with Teams.  

So now they know to drill down to the CEO's device. Everything looks great. Their CPU and memory are good, and bandwidth and processes look good. Next, they examine the call quality metrics. Here, they start to notice latency issues. The service desk drills down further into the CEO's device and notices the faulty Wi-Fi and ISP. Since the ISP is the hotel's gateway, the service desk can proactively contact them and ask to address their internet connections. 

Getting Started

Digital experience monitoring for a hybrid workforce and a zero trust environment requires a modern and dynamic approach. WWT recommends starting with a briefing and inviting your key stakeholders. This usually involves your CEO, CIO, CSO and any key decision maker.   

Next, you would participate in an OEM evaluation workshop. Our WWT technical experts would lead you through discussions of what you need, where you are now, where you want to be, etc.   

Then, you would test your recommended solutions in our Advanced Technology Center (ATC), evaluating any recommended OEMs in a real-life, real-time lab environment to determine which is the best for your needs—before purchasing. 

Zscaler helps unify your monitoring silos, taking all those different telemetry points from the device, the network, and the applications and then pumping that into a user experience core. 

It takes the telemetry data from Teams, Zoom, Webex, etc., and adds those too. 

Then, the AI engine runs on top of it to quickly tell you your issues, giving you the confidence to monitor and optimize your environment before you're impacted. 

Zscaler includes four major solution areas: cyber threat protection, data protection, trust connectivity, and business analytics. With WWT and Zscaler, you are covered in everything from troubleshooting across your ecosystem to application and device monitoring, deep tracing capabilities, and more. The entire experience is seamless to your end-user, which helps improve remote access and smooth out and secure the whole work-from-anywhere experience.  

How Zscaler and WWT Can Help

In today's cloud-first world, fast and secure access to cloud resources is a key driver of business agility and innovation. Using the zero trust approach, WWT and Zscaler partner to help organizations achieve modern workplace enablement, operational efficiency, and secure digital transformation. The Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange platform delivers unparalleled security at scale by connecting users, devices, and applications over any network, in any location— protecting customers from cyberattacks and data loss worldwide. 

Learn more about SSE and Zscaler Contact a WWT Expert

About the Authors

Rohit Goyal, director of product marketing, Zscaler

Dhara Shah, senior product manager, Zscaler

Brianna Farrell Sideris, technical solutions architect, WWT