Even with all of the benefits associated with zero trust architecture (ZTA), there are still several obstacles that can either slow down or derail the journey. Three potential obstacles that a technology leader may face are outlined below, with suggestions on how to turn these obstacles into enablers.
Complexity can hinder the journey
Issue: As a technology leader, complexity or technical debt is part of day-to-day operations. Servicing this technical debt and addressing complexity can stop an innovative transformation in its tracks. It is important to leverage complexity as a catalyst for substantial change, using the prospect of ZTA to shine a spotlight on all things legacy.
Solution: Divide and conquer by picking the areas of business where zero trust can have the maximum benefit. For example, focus on enabling access to internal applications for third-party partners. Start with moving them from full network access to zero trust access. This will yield two benefits by providing visibility into
• who is connecting and from which firm and
• where they are connecting to.
This simple exercise will deliver great access protection, as the third parties aren't on the business network. It also provides two areas of immediate improvement: the ability to apply controls to different third parties based on role, company, etc., and allowing access only to known and authorized apps.
The end result is a zero trust, hygienic foundation of access for third parties. Plus, being able to inventory users and workloads allows for iterative improvements, such as focusing on workloads the third parties are accessing and preventing access from these apps to additional services.
Issue: Change can often induce fear, especially in a business environment. Moreso, when talking about the IT services that underlie the fragile ecosystem of core business functions, maintaining the function and stability of the business is key. Thus, anything new must be incremental and not disruptive.
Solution: Deliver enablement. Zero trust architecture still delivers services but in a more resilient way. This factor is key to businesses adopting the architecture. Through ZTA, businesses achieve better enablement. Through proper planning, a business can facilitate its entire workforce with a new way of working in days. To demonstrate this appropriately, IT leaders need to showcase the multiple, valuable incentives of ZTA. Good examples of high-level value outcomes are:
- Visibility of connections between initiators and destinations
- Intellectual property protection as well as highlighting areas where corporate secrets are vulnerable
- Reduced infrastructure costs by removing superfluous equipment, licenses, etc.
- Accelerated business deployments–not relying on hardware removes the need for lead times, deployments, etc.
- One architecture that addresses many use cases eliminates the headache of building and maintaining piecemeal solutions
Legacy systems hold back innovation
Issue: Enterprises attempting to deliver innovative solutions are often held back by their legacy platforms. Thus, they are forced to split their technology stack over two (or more) areas, one for innovation and the other for “keeping the lights on.” This division breeds challenges with administration, and requires different sets of knowledge and services to address. It also asks enterprises to work in a hybrid manner, with various solutions for each set of ecosystems it manages.
Solution: Empower innovation. A ZTA allows an enterprise to execute anywhere, regardless of worker or application location. It allows any initiator to connect to a destination, regardless of the technical scenarios of either (e.g., cloud-based, on-premises, etc.). With ZTA, an enterprise only needs to consider what will be an initiator and what will be a destination. Networks no longer matter. In many cases, destination workloads will also be initiators. A true ZTA allows these types of flows to be securely built and enabled.
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