Working from outside the office has become a necessity. Even before the pandemic, a huge percentage of the workforce (70% according to this article) wasn’t sitting behind a desk every day. People have moved away from the traditional mechanisms of interfacing with IT systems and mobile connectivity has never been more important. When we talk about mobile, we’re not referring to just smartphones, we’re also referring to SIM-enabled laptops, tablets, and IoT devices. These are all device types that employees are now using to interface with IT systems. Between the vast number of device types and their respective operating systems, mobile is a very challenging and often overlooked part of modern IT infrastructure. With the growing popularity and demand for Zero Trust Network Access solutions, clever IT teams are looking for areas of IT that are ripe for a ZTNA proof of concept. Here are four reasons why IT teams should start their ZTNA strategy on mobile. 

Four reasons IT teams should start their ZTNA strategy on mobile

1. Legacy access technology has poor UX

Despite more than half of internet traffic being consumed via mobile, mobile is still underserved in IT strategy. Remote access technology that has been designed for desktop has been deployed to mobile but it is failing to deliver the slick user experience we’ve grown to expect on mobile. Existing remote access solutions aren’t robust enough for mobile. Let’s look at two.

UEM tunnels only work on managed devices and are very constrained with the remote access use cases they are able to support. This means that BYOD devices and those used by contractors or partners would be unable to connect to work-essential resources via the company’s remote access tool.

Legacy VPNs were designed to use a protocol that’s resource-intensive on the setup, but once established, the connection will stay alive for the duration of the user’s workday. Unlike desktops and laptops, mobile devices are always on the move. Every time your mobile device goes to sleep or you change networks, the VPN gets interrupted and has to reconnect, therefore, app responsiveness suffers and so does the user experience. 

Read more: Full-Tunnel vs Per-App VPN vs Dynamic Split-Tunnel

Since you probably haven’t adopted these legacy access technologies on mobile, there’s a clean slate to adopt ZTNA instead.

2. More robust security

Organizations are running into issues when trying to scale existing access technology to support the new dispersed workforce. In order to minimize disruption, they are resorting to ‘quick fixes’ such as limiting VPN licenses to a subset of users, purchasing a secondary solution, or enforcing inconsistent policies. As a result, they weaken the organization’s security posture. As organizations move to ZTNA, IT can connect more workers to corporate resources without the cost and overhead of managing per-user VPN technology. This also means the entire corporate network isn’t made available to the person at the other end of the VPN. With ZTNA, end users only get connected to the applications they have permission to access. This significantly improves the security of your network and your applications.

3. ZTNA strategy offers consistency across different devices and platforms

Many organizations have different VPN solutions for different operating systems but that means they have two different consoles to manage – one for Windows 10 and then another for iOS and Android. This results in inconsistencies with how remote access is managed. Without a unified remote access solution, IT teams have to configure policies across different VPNs and issue different sets of credentials for users. But with ZTNA, the policy is centralized and rooted in user identity.

4. End-user opinion matters

Organizations need to accommodate a wide variety of end-user needs. This means reacting to the needs of the end-user, rather than forcing IT models down on them. The whole concept of remote work falls apart unless IT teams understand that end-user opinion matters, their needs matter, their choice of platform matters, their ability to be productive matters. As a result, historic security tools that hinder productivity are falling out of favor. Now security teams are trying to play catch up by searching for tools that focus on usability, user experience, speed, and app performance. ZTNA excels in usability and management, delivering a better experience for both end-users and administrators.

IT teams need to figure out how to connect users to applications with the same level of security they had before while also acknowledging that the work environment has changed dramatically. Mobile is greenfield, it’s relatively new and not weighed down by layers of legacy technology. This means IT teams have the opportunity to take this portion of the IT infrastructure and look at it with fresh eyes and use it as a proving ground for ZTNA.