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3 Tips to Avoid Roadblocks on Your Journey to Securing the Modern Workplace

I was on the call with a potential customer and heard the following, “Our last try at implementing Zero Trust Networking (ZTNA) utterly failed. We purchased the solution from vendor X, deployed it but didn’t account for the network team. Since the solution did not account for their network diagnostic tools (ping and traceroute), they are refusing to support us. Needless to say, the deployment died at birth, our promise of a ZTNA future to the senior leadership team was not fulfilled and worse, our security situation is now even more dire as our workforce is entirely remote due to the pandemic”.

Not a New Problem

I’ve spent 20+ years on the front lines of Enterprise IT, most recently overseeing much of the global infrastructure at Columbia Sportswear.  I know exactly how this person felt.  I’ve been there.  They identified a need, found a solution, spent tireless hours evaluating vendors, selected one, ran the gauntlet to approvals and made a commitment to the business.  Their heart was in the right place.  Unfortunately, they encountered a common roadblock.  The dreaded IT silo.  In this case, it was the security team owning a technology and not accounting for the network team.  In the past, these interactions were limited.  Technologies were owned and operated by independently managed teams.  If you needed a server built, it was the platform team.  If you needed a new WAN link, the network resource made it happen.  A new firewall rule, check with the security team.  In the age of Cloud and SaaS, these technologies are blended together.  It is no longer possible for a company to deploy and operate technology without cooperation between IT silos.

The Art of Silo Busting

So what can be done? Based on my experience, here are my suggestions…..

First, start by creating a culture of success. “Culture”, as Peter Drucker says, “eats strategy for breakfast”. The same is true in IT. If you can create space for a diverse team to come together, you will make fertile ground for success. Encourage the staff to fail fast, ask them to think like an entrepreneur, give them room to explore new innovative technologies, create opportunities for the cross-pollination of ideas and break out of the rut of “I’ve done it this way forever…” For IT leaders, embrace servant leadership, For tech leads, embrace mentorship.

Second, as reorganizing teams is a large endeavor and involves risk, start small. For a project involving the challenge of the hybrid workforce, before you select a solution, create a cross functional tiger team. Bring together resources from security, networking, endpoint and even platform. I’d also recommend an operational representative as ultimately, they are the run team for the solution. A key item which is often ignored is designating a business representative as well as an empowered IT leader to manage the team. The business leader must champion the user experience. For the IT lead, select a person who will create the conditions for the culture for success, earn trust and bring the team together when conflict happens.

Ultimately, reorganize your teams. Break down the silos. Focus on two areas. Future and Now. By “Future” I mean the projects a team must deliver for the business to grow. Often, this area is purely an engineering focus but the team must also maintain a close pulse on the needs of the business. The “Now” is managing the operational burden. Keep the lights on (KTLO) and the retirement of technical debt. Here the focus is being “customer first”. Both teams need to be fully cross-functional. Engineers may specialize but must not be “specialists”. Again, don’t lose sight of creating the culture of success. The long term results of your reorg will depend on it.

Alignment Achieved

For the scenario above, once you’ve reached internal alignment and broken through the dreaded IT silo, please reach out to us.  At Axis Security, we are helping global companies replace their legacy remote VPNs with a modern system built for the demands of the hybrid workforce with ZTNA day one.  We provide a robust solution to both satisfy the requirements of the security team as well as the network team (yes, Ping and Traceroute are fully supported under our solution).  Once we’ve successfully partnered to solve your remote access needs, we can also help you further on your journey to empower and secure your workforce by leveraging our groundbreaking secure service edge (SSE) platform.  Our vision is a world where connectivity is alway secure, seamless and simple.  We believe our cloud delivered ZTNA solution will accelerate your business’s digital transformation journey and help you achieve your goals (as well as overcoming a few roadblocks along the way).  Learn how to modernize your remote access solution today!

About the Author

John Spiegel
John Spiegel

Director of Strategy

John Spiegel has 25 years of experience running global networks and managing infrastructure. He is an industry pioneer in software defined networking (SDN) and software defined WANs (SD-WAN). John has spoken on the topic network transformation at industry conferences such as Gartner, InterOp, VMWorld, Palo Alto Networks Ignite as well as executive roundtable discussions. He has also been a customer advisor to companies like VMware, Palo Alto Networks and Cisco Systems. Disruptive startups have also leveraged John’s knowledge to bring products to market resulting in successful exits. When not helping companies on their journey to modernize and secure their networks, John can be found cycling on the backroads of Oregon.

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