Cloud security specialist Zscaler Inc. is getting aggressive in its growth strategy. It’s been winning business and market share, but apparently the pace isn’t fast enough. Now it’s looking to buy the customers of its Web security rivals, Websense Inc. and Blue Coat Systems Inc..
Zscaler announced a special program this week in which it will buy out the Web security contracts of Websense and Blue Coat customers. The company isn’t entirely clear on whether it’s a true buyout, as its offering six months’ free service of Web security plus mobile security and single sign-on to qualified customers that switch.
Partners of Zscaler are allowed to make the special offer to their customers, which will receive a credit for the promotion plus free migration services.
“Remote employees, cloud services and mobile users have exposed the appliance-based hub-and-spoke enterprise security architecture as ineffective; the cost of investing in MPLS, bandwidth and backhauling technology is no longer economically justified nor scalable,” said Zscaler COO Lane Bess. “Zscaler has developed an alternative with its Direct-to-Cloud Network, which delivers the full features of a Secure Web Gateway through a globally-distributed cloud network, eliminating hardware and its associated complexity and overhead.”
Buying out contracts and offering special promotions to competitors’ customers is nothing new. What’s different about the Zscaler offering is the attempt to displace conventional on-premises appliances with cloud-based Web security services.
This isn’t an apples-to-oranges conversion. Websense has cloud service offerings that include data-loss prevention and Web content filtering that parallel its appliance solutions. Blue Coat is more of an appliance company, but its security solutions leverage cloud resources that augment the performance and effectiveness of its Web security.
The Zscaler offering isn’t holistic. Its Web security and mobility services are homegrown, but the SSO services are provided by Ping, Okta and One Login. The add-on services are provided at no additional cost during the promotional period, which runs through Aug. 31.
Zscaler is trying to be as disruptive to the content and Web security segment as next-generation firewall vendor Palo Alto Networks has been to the stateful firewall arena. Competitive displacement programs often yield mixed results. It’s difficult to say whether Zscaler partners or Websense and Blue Coat customers will drop everything to embrace this program. However, it will get some people’s attention.
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