Zscaler resilience capabilities aimed at ensuring nonstop operations

This syndicated post originally appeared at Zeus Kerravala – SiliconANGLE.

Zscaler Inc. today announced “Zscaler Resilience,” which as the name suggests is a set of capabilities that improve the resiliency of its services with the aim of delivering nonstop operations.

Businesses have become heavily reliant on cloud services, and when they are unavailable, it can cause significant disruption in operations. One of the challenges in creating cloud resiliency is that there are so many factors, including network connectivity, security and data center operations. Some highly technical organizations may be able to do this on their own, but most companies do not have the skills. Zscaler Resilience is designed to deliver the necessary components as part of its service, simplifying business continuity.

Zscaler Resilience accounts for both infrastructure and operational processes and is comprised of the following components:

  • Disaster recovery. This protects the customer against a Zscaler cloud outage. In the event of a major event that prevents access to private applications behind the Zscaler cloud, the customer traffic can be redirected to a Zscaler Private Edge residing in the customer’s local data center or in a public cloud where the most updated secure policies are. This ensures that business operations are not disrupted. As an option, direct internet access can be limited to only the business apps considered critical. I like this option as it makes companies review their apps and understand which ones are crucial and which should be best effort.
  • Dynamic performance-based selection. This capability protects against one of the most difficult problems for information technology organizations, and that’s the brownout. When things are down, they’re down and troubleshooting and remediation is straightforward. With brownouts, things are still connected but not working quite right. This can mislead engineers as connectivity is confirmed but things aren’t working. Zscaler automates brownout remediation by continuously probing the gateways for HTTP latency and dynamically establishing tunnels that choose the optimal path for traffic.
  • Customer-controlled data center exclusion. This feature, also known as “soft power,” is like brownout mitigation but puts more control in customers’ hands by allowing them to set a temporary exclusion period for one of the data centers experiencing problems. This prevents traffic from bouncing back and forth if connectivity is intermittently dropping.

Additionally, the company is introducing a service called Zscaler Resilience Audit, which is a custom service that helps customers with their business continuity plans. Audit looks at all aspects of the customer environment, identifies areas for improvement and then helps with the deployment and configuration of Resilience.

In a previous life, I was involved with business continuity initiatives, and the biggest mistake organizations make is a lack of planning and preparedness. It’s difficult to understand all the possible scenarios one might face, particularly today when there are technical, geopolitical and human factors to consider. Then there are different kinds of outages that range from brownouts to blackouts and catastrophic failures. Leveraging a service like Audit can help companies understand what gaps they may have.

From a price perspective, Zscaler is building these capabilities into the Business Edition subscription tier and higher (Transformation and Unlimited). On a pre-brief, Zscaler told me the idea wasn’t to make money off the service but rather to ensure that the service is always available. Zscaler will also be proactively reaching out to its customers to ensure they are taking advantage of Resilience.

In my opinion, not charging the customer for these features is the right thing to do as it shouldn’t cost the customer extra to ensure they can access services they are paying for. To be clear, not all issues that affect services are in the domain of Zscaler. There can be telco issues, DNS problems, security events or other factors. But Zscaler is putting its money where its mouth is and taking ownership of anything that could cause a customer to experience and outage. This is a model all cloud providers should follow.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.