Implementing an enterprise-wide zero trust architecture with Zscaler for 50,000 NTT DATA employees

As part of NTT DATA’s larger journey to an identity-based zero trust architecture, the organization wanted to implement a tool that would allow their employees to be productive from anywhere, at any time, without compromising security. The Zscaler zero trust solution allows employees to connect to company resources securely with no extra steps required, regardless of where they’re working from.

Client profile

With deep technical knowledge and unmatched industry expertise, NTT DATA is a top-10 leader in digital and business services. They’re constantly transforming their digital-first portfolio, investing USD 3.6 billion in R&D annually, acquiring and partnering with the smartest companies, and hiring diverse and expert talent with a 90% retention rate.


Securing a fast-changing workplace

Whether you called it “lockdown” or “sheltering in place”, the sudden COVID-19 restrictions showed the value of virtual-first and zero trust strategies that allow people to work from anywhere.

Fortunately, NTT DATA had started their journey to zero trust two years before COVID. Because most of their workforce (about 60% of employees) was already working remotely, many at client sites, they needed a secure way to connect to company applications and systems. This could involve logging in to a virtual private network (VPN).

So, in 2018, NTT DATA was already exploring how to implement security technology that would allow their workforce to be productive anywhere, on any device, at any time. These three ideas became the guiding principles for the IT giant’s zero trust policies. Their focus was on identity-based zero trust: that is, constantly verifying that the person accessing workloads and data is authorized to do so.

The challenge in implementing zero trust was how to make it intuitive for users.

The organization didn’t want to add friction to the process or leave users wondering what they needed to do before they could access information or systems to do their work. The experience had to be the same whether they were in the office, at a client site, traveling or at home. The ideal scenario was to create an environment where the user felt that things just worked.

“We needed to go beyond the marketing jargon and find a solution that would help us develop a true zero trust architecture.”

Steve Williams
Enterprise CISO, NTT DATA Services

The fast rollout employees nearly didn’t notice

Zscaler is instrumental to NTT DATA’s goal of implementing zero trust, because once it’s been implemented, users don’t need to think about which application to fire up for workflows. It simply works in the background, allowing employees to connect to the company no matter where they are.

Choosing Zscaler was based on the principle that you must be able to see something before you can manage it, and manage it before you can secure it. Zscaler enabled just that: the company can look across the network space, see where users’ devices were, and even manage some elements of workforce security.

The rollout was as smooth as the user experience was likely to be. The NTT DATA team rolled out the solution to 50,000 people within 30 days – one of the fastest deployments of all Zscaler functions to such a large number of users.

As NTT DATA and NTT Ltd. come together as NTT DATA Inc. they’ll be able to rapidly expand the Zscaler platform to ensure that all employees benefit from the protection that Zscaler offers.

“I think the best feather in the cap for Zscaler, and our ability to implement it, is that people didn’t talk about the change; it just worked. People could continue to do their jobs and  they didn’t have the friction of dealing with new technology.”

Steve Williams
Enterprise CISO, NTT DATA Services

A single solution enables three business values

Implementing Zscaler’s zero trust architecture delivered the business value that NTT DATA wanted: for their people to be productive anywhere, at any time and on any device.

Seamless user experience – no training required

Employees may notice that it’s become easier to access resources with a click, but the change didn’t affect them otherwise. There is no need to train the user on how to use the solution.

Ready for the future workplace

The pandemic caused a sudden shift in how people work and what the modern workplace looks like. With Zscaler, such shifts do not matter; the solution secures connections no matter how the workplace is structured.

Combining productivity and security

The solution replaced traditional networking and security technology with a cloud-native zero trust platform that connects users to applications, applies advanced cyberthreat and data protection policies, and optimizes the end-to-end digital experience.