3 phases to your successful Zscaler deployment - The Xalient Best Practice Guide

You did it. You bought Zscaler and now the cloud transformation journey is before you. Now what?  More specifically, when you look back a year from now, how successful will you measure the progress and, more importantly, how well positioned are you for the years to come? Kevin Peterson, Xalient’s Senior Cyber Security Strategist and former Director of Security & Network Transformation at Zscaler guides you through Xalient’s Best Practice Guide to your successful Zscaler deployment… 

If you have a rather large deployment, then chances are you also paid up for Zscaler’s Deployment Advisory Services (DAS). While that’s the obvious next step, it’s really only the very beginning. Where you go beyond the DAS threshold will define just how great your success story will be. To help shed some light on what that can look like and how you might be one of the showcase installations, here’s how Xalient, a top Zscaler partner, covers the entire Zscaler deployment journey.  

Top Tip: Even if you don’t use Xalient for your implementation, there’s no harm in mapping this as best you can to your own capabilities.

The 3 Phases

Phase 1: Zscaler’s Deployment Advisory 

Whether you call it baselining, onboarding, or orientation (all are fitting), this first phase is all about helping you reach, at the very least, the Minimally Viable Product (MVP) in the shortest time possible. Most will estimate this to be about 25% of their core needs, which is actually a good estimate. The goal is to get you comfortably nudged into that sweet MVP spot of where you want to be in the early stages of your deployment, as dictated by which level of DAS you purchased. It’s as simple as that.  

“To DAS or not to DAS?” is not even a question here. If Zscaler and/or one of their elite deployment partners recommends that you add this to your installation, find the budget for it and do it. You won’t regret it. I personally haven’t seen a project fail when DAS has been at the forefront, in fact, the best major implementations I can recall, have been in tight partnership and alignment with the relevant playbooks.  

To be extra clear, it’s safe to say you will NEVER hear anyone at Xalient say you should forego a well-positioned DAS recommendation and replace it with a similar advisory service. But what you will hear and see from our leadership position is that having an overlay professional services consultant (aka Zscaler coach – managed by Xalient) can provide exponential value in the form of much faster, and thorough implementations.

 

“‘Advisors’ sit in the stands and actively push down advice/recommendations onto the field of play. Good advice, no doubt. But is that the same as being the accountable coach that must be there until the game is won?”

 

Xalient Best Practice: Ask your Zscaler sales rep and the deployment partner to agree that DAS is a fit for this new installation (or major upgrade) and then supplement it with a more comprehensive professional services coaching engagement. The next phase will show why it matters.

 

Phase 2: Growth 25%-75% 

As the baseline orientation and onboarding comes to an end, the big rollout is upon us. It’s time to ramp up to 75% of the deployment in partnership with your Xalient Professional Services Coach. Right now, you probably have 2 questions on your mind: 

1) How is 75% calculated and measured?  

Honestly, even for the best of us it’s somewhat arbitrary. It could be based solely on the percentage of licenses or blended with a checklist of features to be implemented. But before things even start, everyone knows what the target looks like. The next question explains why it doesn’t really matter that much.   

2) Why just 75%?  

Our goal is to get your organization rolled out as fast as possible so that we can move on to the next great customer. As projects near the end of completion, things tend to slow down as people start to get reassigned to other projects. This ends up hurting for a number of reasons, such as not taking full advantage of the knowledgeable resources in the first 3/4 of the deployment. By forcing our core involvement into the first 3/4, we are pushing you to be ready earlier. That’s what the business wants. 

Xalient Best Practice: Avoid ‘staff augmentation’ approaches. You can go and ask an army of recruiters to help you find a Zscaler engineer to join your team and it likely won’t deliver the results you are after. Many organizations think they want the default “contractor”, when what they really need is a program built for speed, depth-of-knowledge, and accuracy. When done right, everyone succeeds faster. And the scalability and resilience offered by a service offering is exponentially more capable than any single person.

 

Phase 3: 75% – Infinity 

This is where it really gets fun! You have been highly successful up to this point and Xalient has you ready to take it across the goal line…yourself. And you absolutely should want that personal and professional satisfaction.  

But you are also, quite understandably, nervous at the prospect of losing your daily coaching. Have no fear, there are 3 key choices you can make at this point to assure your future success.  

Decision Time 

  1. Take over and Xalient exits (we are totally fine with this, of course)
  2. Execute a more detailed SOW for the 75-100% completion window (special use cases – you/we will know it when we see it — like deciding that you really do want to go with Tunnel 2.0 after all, or need some additional help with just reaching SSL inspection goals)
  3. Migrate to Managed Services

Xalient Best Practice: All customers are destined for a managed service. It could be your own in-house model, outsourced, or a combination of the two. Just don’t think you have to take it all on yourself, as there’s a lot of value in having SLA-driven and backed services to keep things on track. Just find and adopt your best managed services model as soon as possible.  

 

Takeaways 

DON’T look to for “staff augmentation”, but rather a team of solution experts that can be both hands-on and outstanding coaches.  

DON’T “lose the plot” to your transformation success story (you worked too hard to throw it away a year or two down the road — for any reason) 

DO look to managed services for peak over-the-horizon success, continuity, and growth. 

 

 

About the Author:

Kevin Peterson is Xalient’s Senior Cyber Security Strategist. With over three decades of global information security and analyst experience, ranging from leading roles in the Fortune 10 (McKesson) to some of the most game-changing tech companies (Microsoft, Juniper Networks, Zscaler). At Zscaler he served as their Director of Security & Network Transformation, where he was also a founding member of their top global Solution Architects team. Since 2013, his focus has been 100% targeted at coaching the largest and most transformational global cloud security programs in order to deliver the success stories for others to follow, thereby shaping the exponentially more capable next generation.