Zscaler Adds Partners For SaaS-Based Security Service, Ups Battle Against Websense

Zscaler is pushing past its SaaS-based Web filtering, extending its add-on services to include licenses for cloud-based antimalware, data loss prevention and secure Wi-Fi services and aiming it at Websense customers eager to shed outdated on-premise appliances.

Partners say the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor has been a solid choice for companies that are ripping out legacy, on-premise servers or are seeking to improve basic cloud content filtering services. By tweaking DNS settings to send traffic through Zscaler's platform, companies gain the same Web filtering controls and protection against known malicious websites, said Mark Robinson, president of Findlay, Ohio-based solution provider CentraComm, which has partnered with Zscaler for about three years.

"Content filtering is a perfect security service to have in the cloud because I think people are comfortable with that type of service being there," Robinson said, adding that Zscaler has been a winner in the midmarket where companies are more eager to shed on-premise servers for cloud-based services as part of cost-cutting measures.

[Related: Tech 10 Security Products: Advanced Threat Protection]

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Since Zscaler's launch in 2008, the company has added antivirus and antispyware to its Web filtering service. It has embraced the channel with the addition of Lane Bess as COO in 2011, a former Palo Alto Networks veteran who has spearheaded its early channel initiatives. Zscaler added email security in 2010 with data loss prevention capabilities that extend to SMTP and webmail. The services are added on as separate licenses with prices ranging from $1 to $5 per user, per month.

Last year it introduced a cloud-based sandbox to inspect suspicious files for detection of so-called advanced threats that use custom malware or zero-days. The APT service supports Windows systems and Android devices. Support for Mac OS X is due out later next year and engineers are still working on support for iOS devices.

The company can decrypt SSL traffic for inspection and is in line to block threats before a system is infected. If it detects outgoing communication to a remote server, it also will block an attempt to upload stolen data. The new guest Wi-Fi protection manages and secures guest Wi-Fi with global administration, policy management, reporting and analytics. Access points are directed to Zscaler for full inspection and threat protection, the company said.

Zscaler said it also added more robust administrative and reporting tools, but it is working on capabilities to prioritize alerts for incident responders.

NEXT: Zscaler Battling Websense, McAfee

Zscaler is competing with a host of other Web security gateway makers, including Symantec, Intel Security (formerly McAfee) and security vendor Websense. All the vendors are moving to cloud-based services and can be deployed as a proxy or bridge mode for some services. Other companies sell a range of appliances for midmarket and enterprise customers who want hands-on reporting and logging and capabilities that extend to hybrid environments. Blue Coat and Cisco Systems are the market-share leaders in the space, according to research firm Gartner.

Websense is battling Zscaler and Intel Security for new customers, partners tell CRN. Websense and other vendors make the case that organizations with complicated environments require a hybrid approach with on-premise systems that can scale and cloud-based services to support threat detection and other security capabilities. In a recent interview with CRN, Websense CEO John McCormack said the company was bolstering its support and services organization and reaching out directly to customers to manage threats that are growing increasingly complex. McCormack said the value is in the software and its ability to scale in complicated environments to meet true enterprise-class needs.

"We run our software so we can get the most juice possible out of the Intel innovation curve and put all the logic to take advantage of that inside our software and optimize it to that, but it takes a lot more than just a box to scale something," McCormack said. "Try dealing with Active Directory, federations that are at 200,000 users. It's pretty incredible in distributed environments that are global. There's a lot of elements to scale."

Robinson said Zscaler has been bolting on additional services that appeal to the midmarket, "but the wholesale mentality of moving traditional intrusion prevention and firewall border security into the cloud isn't happening yet." Zscaler has told partners that it is committed to maintaining open standards to make it easier to integrate other security technologies into the platform.

The Zscaler service is also getting new competition from San Francisco-based OpenDNS, which sells antimalware and phishing protection as well as guest Wi-Fi security. OpenDNS launched a management console for MSPs in June, enabling them to license its Umbrella threat protection services to SMBs and the midmarket.

Zscaler said it expanded its list of technology partnerships with vendors that can integrate identity management, network analysis and traffic management capabilities using Zscaler APIs to connect to the cloud-based services and still function properly.

The company has integration partnerships with CA Technologies, Centrify, SafeNet and Microsoft for single sign-on, multifactor authentication, data protection and identity management. The cloud security platform can feed data into broader network security and risk analysis platforms and in that space partners with BT Assure, Logrhythm, RSA and Symantec. Zscaler also partners with Ipanema Technologies and Viptela for securing traffic and wide area network management.

ZScaler maintains a three-tier channel program for resellers and system integrators, with minimum requirements for registered partners a commitment of five deals per year to gain access to deal registration and other benefits. Midtier partners commit to a minimum annual license revenue of $250,000 and gain access to lead referrals, marketing and presales technical support. The company requires its top-tier Summit partners to have a business plan, commit to license sales of $1 million or more, and have consulting and engineering services certification.

A Zscaler spokesperson said 80 percent of its business is "touched" by the channel. The company said its is achieving 92 percent growth in terms of new business.