Zscaler Internet Access Review

Excellent for securing web traffic, but the solution needs to grow into DLP


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is to secure internet traffic. Users want to make sure that the site doesn't have DDoS attacks or any malware. Zscaler is able to protect data for individual organizations and for the country as well.

How has it helped my organization?

Basically, the standard traditional model of a firewall becomes obsolete when you implement Zscaler. It goes into the secure web gateway, and it removes the hardware requirement and the annual recurring costs and the annual maintenance costs for clients, which is quite important and beneficial for smaller SMB organizations.

What is most valuable?

The best thing about Zscaler Internet Access is the website filtering. In the UAE it's quite an important feature because most of the malware comes through the SQL injection and through downloads from websites. Zscaler helps protect against that. It is very important for a telco provider, so that their customers, who rent or who buy those services from them, do not have an issue.

What needs improvement?

In terms of usage, here in the GCC, it's still growing a growing market, so the combination of DLP, data leak prevention, to a certain extent is fine. But what it requires is user-based access or role-based access. The solution needs to grow into that, which definitely takes time. There's not an easy way to integrate it when you have a cloud-based solution.

The only DLP you can have is for the web, such as iboss. The DLP part is quite crucial for this particular region.

DLP, machine learning, artificial intelligence, and some algorithms can be built into the solution. There are certain pet algorithms for AI and machine learning which everybody is moving towards, so that needs to be added to the solution as well.

For how long have I used the solution?

I've been recommending the solution for two to three years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We haven't had any issues or any complaints from the customer in regards to the stability of the solution. Usually, the stability depends on the end-user as well, for example, how much usage or how much they know about the technology or the product. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

For Zscaler, it is scalable for anywhere from five users up to 5,000 or 10,000 users, because of the MSS model when at telco providers. For an individual company, it is still quite easy for them to scale, based on how much hardware or cloud services they want to deploy. It's pretty easy to scale, as the organization scales.

In general, if you want to look at the number of users, this solution can deploy anywhere from five users up to 10,000 users quite easily from an MSS model, managed services model. When you talk about an on-prem model, however, scaling needs to be deployed at phases. It cannot be deployed in one go for anywhere from 1,000 to 3,000 users. It has to go through a deployment phase.

How are customer service and technical support?

We don't have experience with the vendor's technical support, as we offer our own. 

There are three levels of technical support that we provide. The first level comes when we charge the customers on the technical support if our engineer needs to go on-site and help. 

The second level of support is, if it's an MSS program, through the telco provider. 

If they still need help, then it has to go to the vendor. We always try to help our clients first instead of directing them to vendors.

How was the initial setup?

If you go for the MSS model, managed services model, then the initial setup is very straightforward. You register with the telco and the services are switched on. When you want to stop paying for that, you just turn the services off. That's how simple it is.

If you go for an on-prem model, there are going to be certain challenges surrounding how it needs to be deployed. It's dependant on the client. If the client is a cloud-native organization, it becomes easier. But if the client, SMB client or enterprise client, is not cloud-native, then it is a little expensive for them.

If all the prerequisites are met and the hardware requirements are met for an on-premises model, it takes about a week to deploy the solution. That would be for a small scale organization of about 300 users.

If it is an MSS, you can expect it to take one week. That's only if all the prerequisites are met. If the prerequisites are not ready, it can take up to three to four months. It also depends on the client and how they are looking to deploy it. If they want to go phase by phase or they want to do a full-time deployment, for example.

What about the implementation team?

We are consultants. We handle the implementation ourselves.

What was our ROI?

The return on investment usually comes in anywhere between three to six months, for a large enterprise. For an SMB, it usually is apparent after two to three months.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

Pricing varies from customer to customer, depending on the hardware that is required and the deployment model.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

Our clients might evaluate other options, like iboss and Fortinet. We offer Zscaler.

What other advice do I have?

With MSS service providers, they prefer to have an on-prem OPEX-based deployment model. Like telecom providers or data center service providers, they buy the service and roll it out to customers or sell it to their own customers for a monthly fee. We have a mix of clients who prefer to have private clouds and hybrid models.

There is competition, with, for example, iboss and Fortinet in the region. iboss is hardware-free but the company is young and still growing. It's not there yet. Zscaler, however, the way they have matured the market and have become a mature model, makes them preferred over other vendors or other brands.

In terms of implementing Zscaler, it's quite straightforward, but even having a straightforward technology like Zscaler requires a consultative approach of which are the critical areas where the service needs to be deployed first. That needs to be studied as per the cybersecurity guidelines so that the right protocols are implemented.

I would rate the solution seven out of ten. 

They still have some features to integrate. The solution is still evolving.

Disclosure: My company has a business relationship with this vendor other than being a customer: Partner.
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