As an IT leader, you understand the importance of modernizing your approach to cybersecurity to increase business resiliency. You know that it will foster end-users’ productivity, increase the speed that new applications can be deployed, and decrease operational costs. But, your executive team may see it as another avoidable IT expense. This guide will help clarify reasons why your CTO, CFO, or CEO should invest in a Zero Trust Network Access (ZTNA) solution.

Explaining Zero Trust

To the non-technical executive, ZTNA sounds like another complex acronym, especially if discussion turns to “inside out data security”. Simply put, IT used to connect employees in the office to servers somewhere in the building, however, the events of 2020 mean that now users are everywhere and the migration of apps to the cloud has accelerated

By 2023, 60% of enterprises will phase out most of their remote access virtual private networks (VPNs) in favor of ZTNA

ZTNA is a new technology category specifically designed to solve the many problems that can be encountered when changing operational models and moving to remote ways of working. Digitization did more than reduce the business’ paper budget and ZTNA will deliver more value than just security. This article sets out six ways ZTNA is financially beneficial for your businesses.

ZTNA is more than just security

While security threats are on the rise and executive awareness is increasing, security is frequently seen as a cost center and a business blocker. According to a Threat Stack survey, 68% of businesses state their CEOs demand IT teams do not slow the business down.

Unlike other security solutions, ZTNA supports high-level management objectives including improving the agility and flexibility of the business while also decreasing costs. This is possible because the majority of remote access solutions are based on legacy designs that cannot keep up with the dynamic changes businesses face today. As a workaround, many IT teams spend excessive amounts of time and money configuring and maintaining these legacy tools. Migrating to ZTNA represents a solution to these traditional problems.

The cost of migration is small

Moving to a new service can be time-consuming and expensive, for example, nearly three-quarters of businesses find the costs of migrating to Microsoft 365 were more than 25 percent higher than expected. However, unlike many transformation projects, with ZTNA there is no need for an expensive “rip-and-replace” project.

Firstly, choosing a cloud-based architecture and scalable licensing model allows businesses to avoid upfront costs of purchasing and installing hardware and software.

Secondly, ZTNA can work in parallel with existing remote access technologies while they are phased out. This model allows organizations to deploy new applications or critical applications via ZTNA, leaving the majority connected via the legacy solution. As business applications are upgraded or moved to the cloud they can be migrated to ZTNA.

This approach minimizes the upfront cost of deploying ZTNA and provides a clear roadmap for how the business can transition to the new security model. Should a business choose to kick off a large-scale migration they still avoid paying for any hardware, keeping costs down.

Operational expenses are reduced

In contrast to many old technologies that run on appliances in the data center, ZTNA is typically a SaaS solution and requires no IT maintenance by your businesses. There is no hardware to monitor or maintain, and no software to patch or update. If rack space is rented in a data center for an existing remote access appliance, that contract can be canceled, resulting in an immediate cost reduction. As a cloud-based service, all operational tasks are performed by the provider, who ensures that the service is maintained to enterprise-grade standards.

It is not just operational costs that are reduced, the time engineers spend on operational tasks is also minimized. If maintenance is performed by a managed service provider the number of contracted hours can be reduced, reducing the outgoing expenses. If the business uses an internal team of engineers they can be redeployed from operational tasks to capital projects, focused on delivering business value.

Decreasing administrator workloads

Older technologies, such as VPN, were designed for a much narrower set of use cases than they are being used for today. To support the range of on-premise, cloud and hybrid applications, administrators have either had to resort to deploying multiple solutions or complex workarounds. The complexity can be exacerbated by the range of device operating systems and user groups. IDC found that 50%+ of businesses report that they use more than 10 network and application components to add a new external user group to an organization. The net impact is that remote access solutions can consume many hours of administrator time.

ZTNA services are designed for the modern workplace, not only does this mean that the number of remote tools required can be consolidated, it also means that the complexity of their configuration is lower. While this translates to immediate cost savings, in the form of reduced operational hours, there are further benefits by integrating a ZTNA service into the organization’s technology stack. Synchronizing a ZTNA solution with directory services, device managers and security tools allows for lifecycle management workflows to be automated, eliminating a significant amount of operational overhead.

IT projects cost less and are faster

By decreasing the complexity of the technology stack, the number of hours spent during design and deployment is significantly reduced. The incremental effect of this can be substantial over several years, particularly for any digital transformation programs that include migration to the cloud. The capital expenditure saved due to ZTNA can either be returned to the business or reinvested in IT projects that would otherwise have not received funding.

Keeping projects on schedule is a key business goal, as future revenue may depend on the successful rollout. Decreasing the complexity of the access layer will also increase the deployment speed of any new service. ZTNA can therefore form an essential part of the IT team’s toolkit for on-time delivery.

Increased business resilience

The access layer is essential for service availability, as it represents a single point of failure it must be resilient. Achieving high availability with applianced-based technology can be expensive as it requires redundant hardware to be purchased – and it may never be used. In comparison, ZTNA solutions are built in the cloud and by their very nature provide high-availability services with no additional costs.

In comparison to VPN, the end-user ZTNA application is also modernized, offering a much smoother experience by routing traffic dynamically without the need for the end-user to enable or disable any settings. The time saved by end-users can be significant. In a survey conducted by Robert Half Technology, the average office worker lost 22 minutes every day to troubleshooting general IT-related issues. This adds up to more than two weeks every year for every full-time worker which can be spent focused on more productive revenue-generating tasks. It is estimated that ZTNA can reduce the number of end-user issues by 80%.

Decreasing the number of end-user issues has a direct impact on the IT help desk, reducing the number of incoming tickets, average response time and overall workload. If the business has outsourced the help desk to a third party the scope of the contract can be reduced for immediate cost savings. In the event the help desk is provided internally the reduced support workload allows workers to be deployed to other projects.

Building a business case

Focusing on just the security benefits of ZTNA may not be enough to convince stakeholders. Working with the wider IT team to evaluate and quantify the benefits described in this document will allow a much more attractive business to be built. Wandera recommends highlighting three key points in the business case.

Firstly, there is a low upfront cost, due to the cloud-based architecture. There is no on-premise hardware or software to install and the service can scale as the business migrates users and apps over to ZTNA.

Secondly, there are immediate operational benefits and cost savings available. With less hardware and software to maintain, IT teams can focus on other projects. Additionally, ZTNA services create fewer end-user issues, letting them spend more of their time working and freeing up help desk staff.

Finally, there are significant long-term benefits to moving to a ZTNA service. Deploying new apps or changing the organization’s business model is much faster and cheaper with a ZTNA solution. Any cloud migration program can capitalize on these benefits, even if projects are already underway.

Making a recommendation

An essential part of every business case is defining the next steps and what approval is needed. Creating a list of candidate solutions and conducting trials helps convince the business that the optimal solution has been chosen and it will validate business case assumptions, such as the potential value of benefits.