Presented by Zscaler

Against a backdrop of rapid digital transformation, zero trust has emerged as the ideal framework for securing enterprise users, workloads and devices in a distributed cloud- and mobile-centric world. IT leaders globally are waking up to this as zero trust moves into the mainstream, disrupting decades of legacy security and networking principles.

More than 90% of IT leaders who have started their migration to the cloud have already implemented a zero trust security strategy, or are in the process of implementing one in the next year. That’s according to the findings of the global State of Zero Trust Transformation report, which Zscaler commissioned to seek insights from more than 1,900 C-level decision-makers from organizations that have begun migrating applications and services to the cloud.

This is good progress, and the reasons behind it show optimism for implementing a zero trust architecture beyond the next year. However, the pressure is on enterprises to speed up this process as much as possible. As the world around us continues to take twists and turns and create challenging economic conditions, with supply chain uncertainty, ever-changing customer and employee demands as well as budget pressures, organizations are finding it increasingly difficult to succeed without the speed, agility, flexibility and efficiency afforded by the cloud.

Securing the case for zero trust

Digital transformation can never be a one-way street. Just as transforming the network inevitably leads to an evolved cybersecurity strategy, transformed security solutions can be catalysts for change in other areas of an organization. A cloud-based approach to zero trust, with the visibility and control it provides over a network’s users and traffic, plays an invaluable role in enabling an organization’s safe, seamless digital transformation.

Truly transformative zero trust enables organizations to leave their legacy infrastructure behind. More than two-thirds (68%) of surveyed IT decision-makers either agree that secure cloud transformation is impossible with legacy network security infrastructure or that zero trust network access has clear advantages over traditional firewalls and VPNs with regard to securing remote access to applications.

With only 22% of respondents fully confident their organization is leveraging the full potential of their cloud infrastructure, there’s an evident need to think beyond just security going forward. Approached from a holistic IT perspective, zero trust can unlock a wealth of opportunities in an overall digitization process. Yes, it can prevent large-scale cyberattacks, but it can also do much more, from driving greater innovation to supporting better employee engagement and delivering tangible cost efficiencies.

Unlocking the full potential of zero trust

The survey results also point to a disconnect between the business and IT teams alongside a critical misunderstanding of the rationale behind digital transformation. The report shows that organizations still see transformation as a technology issue — a way to move spending from infrastructure to the cloud –rather than an integral part of the business strategy.

IT leaders focused on driving the business understand that transformation is not only about migrating apps to the cloud. They recognize that the network and its security must be transformed as well for the business to realize the full potential of digitization.

As organizations grapple with providing a new hybrid workplace and digitized production infrastructure, they are relying on a range of emerging technologies such as IoT/OT, 5G and even the metaverse. They must broaden the lens through which they see zero trust and digital transformation. A zero trust platform has the power to redesign business and organizational infrastructure requirements: to become a business driver that enables companies not only to offer the hybrid work model employees are demanding, but also to become fully digitized organizations with all the benefits this entails, from agility and efficiency to future-proofed infrastructure.

There is an incredible opportunity for IT leaders to educate business decision-makers on zero trust and bring it to the table as a high-value business driver. It’s the missing link helping businesses empower and ready themselves for future technologies today.

Nathan Howe is Vice President, Emerging Technology and 5G at Zscaler.

For more insights, read the full State of Zero Trust Transformation report.

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