Enterprise applications are rapidly moving to the cloud to achieve greater IT agility, faster innovation, and lower costs. Organizations are increasingly relying on Internet destinations for a range of business activities, adopting new external SaaS applications for critical business functions and moving their internally managed applications to the public cloud, Infrastructure as a Service or IaaS, or PaaS.
Users now expect to be able to seamlessly access applications and data, wherever they are hosted, from any device, anywhere in the world. Zscaler believes these trends indicate the broader digital transformation agenda as businesses increasingly succeed or fail based on their IT outcomes.
Zscaler’s mission is to empower organizations to realize the full potential of the cloud and mobility by securely connecting users to applications from any device, anywhere.
Zscaler was incorporated in 2007, during the early stages of cloud adoption and mobility, based on a vision that the internet would become the new corporate network as the cloud becomes the new data center. In this story, we will understand what does Zscaler do and how does it work.
What does Zscaler do?
Zscaler predicted that with rapid cloud adoption and increasing workforce mobility, traditional perimeter security approaches would provide inadequate protection for users and data and an increasingly poor user experience.
Zscaler pioneered a cloud platform, the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange, representing a fundamental shift in the architectural design and approach to networking and security.
Zscaler believes securing the on-premises corporate network to protect users and data is becoming increasingly irrelevant in a cloud and mobile-first world where organizations depend on the internet, a network they cannot control and cannot secure, to access critical applications that power their businesses.
Zscaler pioneered a unique approach that securely connects users, devices, and applications using business policies, regardless of the network. Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange eliminates the need for traditional on-premises security appliances that are difficult to maintain and require compromises between security, cost, and user experience.
Zscaler’s purpose-built, multi-tenant, distributed cloud platform incorporates the security functionality needed to enable users, applications, and devices to safely and efficiently utilize authorized applications and services based on an organization’s business policies.
Zscaler’s cloud-native platform, the Zscaler Zero Trust Exchange, enables customers to secure and connect users, workloads, and IoT/OT devices across three core products:
- Zscaler for Users — leverages its comprehensive cloud platform to provide users secure, fast, and reliable access to the internet, including SaaS applications, via Zscaler Internet Access, or ZIA, and provides Zero Trust Network Access to internally hosted applications via Zscaler Private Access, or ZPA, in each case, regardless of device, location or network.
- Zscaler for Workloads – leverages Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange to secure workloads, whether in a public cloud or private data centers, using its cloud-native zero trust access service to provide fast and secure app-to-internet (via ZIA) and app-to-app (via ZPA) connectivity across multi- and hybrid cloud environments. Zscaler’s Posture Control solutions automatically identify and remediate cloud service, application, and identity misconfigurations for assets deployed in public cloud infrastructure.
- Zscaler for IoT/OT – leverages the complete suite of Zscaler solutions to reduce the risk of cyberattacks and data loss and improve user and facility safety by providing zero-trust security for connected IoT and OT devices.
Before Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange, the corporate data center was the central IT security hub, with a physical network perimeter used to separate corporate users, devices, and applications from the internet.
Today, this network perimeter approach consists of appliances that have become fundamentally less effective as applications, data, users, and devices rapidly move off the corporate network, making the notion of a corporate perimeter obsolete.
Zscaler’s architecture vastly differs from the traditional “hub-and-spoke” corporate network, where traffic from branch offices is routed to centralized data centers for security scanning and policy enforcement before reaching its destination.
In contrast, Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange is an intelligent switchboard that uses business policies to securely connect users, devices, and applications over any network and protect against cyber threats and data loss.
Zscaler’s Zero Trust Exchange eliminates the requirement for organizations to buy and manage a variety of high-cost appliances that must be maintained by many highly skilled security personnel, which are expensive and in increasingly short supply.
Zscaler’s cloud-native, multitenant architecture is distributed across more than 150 data centers globally, which brings security and business policy close to users and devices in 185 countries and provides fast, secure, and reliable access.
Zscaler blocks over 150 million threats daily and performs over 200,000 unique security updates. Zscaler’s customers benefit from the cloud security effect of its ever-expanding ecosystem because once a new threat is detected, it can be blocked across its entire customer base within minutes.
How does Zscaler work?
Zscaler’s Technology and Architecture
Zscaler has developed a highly scalable, multi-tenant, globally distributed cloud capable of inline internet and SasS traffic inspection, securing access to private applications, protecting cloud applications, managing digital experience, and scanning for exposures and misconfigurations.
Zscaler designed a purpose-built three-tier architecture, starting with its core operating system and adding layers of security and networking innovations over time. Zscaler’s cloud platform is protected by more than 340 issued and pending patents in the United States and other countries.
Zscaler’s platform is designed to be resilient, redundant, and high-performing. It is built as software modules that run on standard x86 platforms without dependency on custom hardware.
The platform modules are split into the control plane (Zscaler Central Authority), the enforcement plane (Zscaler Enforcement Nodes), and the logging and statistics plane (Zscaler Log Servers) as described below:
- Zscaler Central Authority: The Zscaler Central Authority monitors its entire security cloud and provides a central location for software and database updates, policy and configuration settings, and threat intelligence.
- Zscaler Enforcement Nodes: Customer traffic is directed to the nearest Zscaler Enforcement Node, where security, management, and compliance policies the Zscaler Central Authority serves are enforced.
- Zscaler Log Servers: Zscaler’s technology is built into the Zscaler Enforcement Node to perform lossless compression of logs, enabling its platform to collect over 130 terabytes of unique raw log data daily.
Zscaler’s platform is a critical integration point positioned in the data path providing secure access to the internet, cloud, and internal applications.
Zscaler complement and interoperate with crucial technology and cloud vendors across significant market segments, including software-defined vast area network, SDWAN, identity and access management, or IAM, device and endpoint management, and SIEM for reporting and analytics.
Many of the world’s largest enterprises and government agencies rely on Zscaler’s solutions to help them accelerate their move to the cloud. Zscaler has over 6,700 customers across all major geographies, emphasizing larger organizations, and Zscaler currently count over 600 of the Forbes Global 2000 as customers.
Zscaler’s customers span every primary industry, including financial services, healthcare, manufacturing, airlines and transportation, conglomerates, consumer goods and retail, media and communications, public sector and education, technology, and telecommunications services.
Although Zscaler has a channel sales model, Zscaler uses a joint sales approach in which its sales force develops relationships directly with customers and, together with its channel account teams, works with Zscaler’s channel partners on account penetration, account coordination, sales, and overall market development.
Zscaler generated $1.09 billion in 2022. Zscaler generates revenue primarily from sales of subscriptions to access its cloud platform and related support services. Subscription and associated support services accounted for approximately 97% in 2022.
Zscaler has experienced significant growth, with revenue increasing from $431.3 million in fiscal 2020 to $673.1 million in fiscal 2021 to $1,090.9 million in fiscal 2022, representing year-over-year revenue growth of 56% and 62%, respectively.