Microsoft is using Zero Trust networking to help its employees stay productive while working remotely.

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Security is a core priority internally at Microsoft, and getting it right hinges on Zero Trust. Under this model, the company assumes that any access to a Microsoft corporate resource could be a potential security threat. The identity and device health for each employee is constantly checked with multifactor authentication, device verification, and persistent telemetry. 

By embracing the internet as the primary access method for accessing applications, and reducing dependencies on internal or corporate-based applications and services, the Zero Trust networking team at Microsoft has been able to accelerate deployment of Zero Trust during COVID-19. They have been able to move thousands of devices off the corporate network, all in an effort to support employee productivity and security during remote work.

For most people, everything was business as usual. Because Microsoft buildings were largely empty, the networking team could move devices in the building like phones, printers, and conference room technology from one segment of the network to another, without requiring teams or users to be physically onsite to make these changes.

This process of changing the network in a live environment didn’t come without its challenges. To support a great user experience, the team had to carefully scope their work and take on one thing at a time. The team has been intentional with their rollout to minimize disruption using a ring-based approach based on release cohorts, which enables teams to learn from multiple rounds of feedback and iteration from the employees in each ring. It’s equally important to bring engineers and architects into conversations with leaders and stakeholders about network priorities. That way, they can learn business requirements up front so they can address them.

The most important thing is to get started.


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