The Challenge

Support expansion objectives with a stronger global security posture and standardised networking infrastructure.

The Solution

Okta, CrowdStrike and ZScaler solutions to manage identity and access management, protect endpoints, and secure internet and remote access; and a managed SD-WAN running on HPE Edge Connect (formerly Silver Peak) technology.

The Results

Through simplification, standardisation and ready scalability of its security and networking solutions, the firm is poised to advance its growth strategy.

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A global commercial real estate advisory firm with ambitions to double in size over the next three years faced two key challenges. It needed to strengthen its security posture to improve its success rate when bidding on large, international contracts; and standardise its network architecture to shorten the time to value of acquisitions. It’s working with Xalient to achieve both objectives and advance its expansion.

Stepping up user and endpoint security

This real estate advisory firm, with headquarters in Canada and offices in 15+ countries, has ambitious plans to double in size over the next three years. One route to growth is the intention to bid on larger international contracts, which involves being able to convey a strong security posture to reassure potential clients.

To gain insight into its security posture, the firm engaged an expert third party. The review results revealed that the firm’s recently acquired UK business had an even stronger security posture than other parts of the organisation. One reason for this was that the UK business used Okta’s identity and access management solution to secure users’ identities, authorisations and application access.

As a first step to enhancing security globally, the firm decided to deploy Okta to all of its users. Having benefited from Xalient’s consultancy and support services on other projects, the Global Director of IT and Systems approached Xalient to roll out the Okta solution, to allow a standardised approach to identity and access management for all of the firm’s 5,000 or so staff.

Xalient subsequently became involved in the provision of CrowdStrike for endpoint security — protecting users’ laptops, mobiles and other devices from cyber threats and attacks that could otherwise infiltrate and compromise the firm’s infrastructure.

Securing internet and application access

By putting those user- and endpoint-focused building blocks in place, the firm laid the foundations for a significantly improved and standardised security posture on a global level. The next step up for security that Xalient recommended was to roll out two ZScaler solutions:

• ZScaler Internet Access (ZIA), which provides a secure cloud-based internet gateway that secures users’ internet access and prevents them from reaching websites they’re not allowed to visit.

• ZScaler Private Access (ZPA), a secure remote access solution that allows users to access permitted applications without backhauling to the corporate network. This provides increased security and a better user experience compared with a traditional VPN-based approach to remote access.

Xalient Professional Services are supporting the global rollout of the ZScaler solutions and their integration with Okta and CrowdStrike. Once complete, the real estate advisory firm will have a reliable, modern and harmonised approach to security across its entire network.

Standardising on a scalable network

The firm’s other main route to growth is to continue making acquisitions — an approach that inevitably brings the challenge of integrating disparate networks and managing multiple service providers (MSPs). In the US alone, for example, the firm works with multiple MSPs. It’s a situation that would only become more complex as the rate of acquisitions ramps up.

To avoid a ‘sticking-plaster’ approach that would be untenable in the long term, the firm decided to take a fresh approach to its global network that would bring simplification through standardisation.

Working again with Xalient, the firm is migrating to an SD-WAN solution. Deployment is starting in the UK, where Xalient is implementing a fully managed SD-WAN based on HPE Edge Connect (formerly Silver Peak) technology, with savings that make the migration cost neutral. In parallel, Xalient is overhauling the UK sites’ LAN and wireless access solutions.

As existing connectivity provider contracts expire, the rest of the firm’s 100+ sites worldwide will join the Xalientmanaged SD-WAN. The Xalient LAN and wireless access solutions will also be extended to every site. The firm intends to pursue the same WAN and LAN strategies with each new acquisition, which will also help to shorten each acquisition’s time to value.

With increased confidence in its global security posture and a globally standardised managed SD-WAN, the firm will be well placed to pursue its expansion strategy —boosted by the easy scalability of its harmonised security and networking solutions. The firm expects to see business take off as countries emerge from pandemicrelated restrictions, and organisations prepare to make new decisions about their real estate needs.