Before I get into the exciting announcements from Oktane 2018, I’d like to take a minute to highlight Alchemy Technology Group for the honor of recognition as Okta Integrity Global Partner of the Year. In the words of founding partner Travis Graham, “Integrity is one of our core values, so it is great to be recognized for it”
Okta Oktane 2018 was an exciting and engaging time spent hearing from Okta leadership on the company’s direction and the security industry viewed through Okta’s lens of identity. The week brought some exciting product announcements, important partnerships, and sales & technical enablement opportunities.
I’d like to list a few things that stood out to me below and also provide some quick links to more details.
For a great recap of key announcements from the conference: https://www.okta.com/resources/oktane18-recap/
In addition to this link I want to remind everyone that Okta launched a brand new Partner Portal at https://partner.okta.com during the conference. This is THE BEST place to get sales training, technical materials, marketing slide decks, and everything we need to successfully partner with Okta.
DAY ONE – PARTNER ENABLEMENT
Day one consisted of sales training, technical certification, and presentations for partners that consisted solely of the co-founders of Okta and other key leadership. I am happy to report that Jim Marshall earned the Okta Certified Professional Certification, which goes another step further in our partnership enablement. Note: We are working with Okta partner management now to further our sales enablement by getting Alchemy fully certified to perform Okta demos and POC’s. This is not something Okta allows Partners to do alone without first going through some stringent training motions that we cannot shortcut.
After training, all partners joined for a 4.5 hour session with Okta’s product and executive management. While they did give some previews for product announcements, I was most intrigued by their take on the Identity market as a whole. The key point, was that Okta wants to make Identity the “Center of Gravity” for Enterprise security strategy. For many, Okta asserts (and I agree) that Identity as a key facet of the security plan is NOT YET a mainstream idea. The largest call to action, was Okta reminding partners that we are the only way for Okta to scale that message out and help make it a more mainstream discussion. Okta reported that identity was an $18 billion market over the next 5-10 years as spending shifts from on-premises (which is still the case today) to primarily cloud and SaaS. Okta is uniquely positioned to maintain its leadership as the convergence of identity and security becomes a more familiar conversation…and this is a key conversation we should be trying to have with our customers. If we wait for them to ASK about identity solutions we will have missed the opportunity to be forward thinkers and add educational and strategic value.
Okta’s strongest position is as a leader in the Identity-as-a-Service marketplace with a solution that covers a comprehensive feature set and use case. Many times, though, they are competing for a small part of the feature set. A common one is multi-factor authentication (where they compete with DUO, for example). I believe Okta can require careful positioning and we may need to look at how we bring it to market.
KEY DIRECTION AND STRATEGY ANNOUCEMENTS:
- Okta wants to be a solution that enables a JOURNEY TO CONNECT EVERYTHING and asserts that to do this, they must be a neutral company, 100% cloud based, and provide integration as a service (or be future proof). Okta CEO and co-founder Todd McKinnon stated “…identity is the challenge of our time.”
- The overarching go-to-market strategies for Okta are to Modernize IT, Transform Customer Experiences, and Secure the Business
- Modernize IT– Okta provides a solution to manage identity based on modern and emerging identity standards (ex. OpenID Connect and SAML) to reduce IT friction and enable a contextual security model. M&A processes, on and off-boarding, and user management are all processes that haven’t changed much in the last 10 years. Okta can radically reduce time to manage users, migrate to O365, grant access to application across domains, etc. Okta mentioned numerous times the idea of how the Okta Integration Network (OIN) is a key differentiator for Okta providing over 5000 out-of-the-box Identity integrations between leading SaaS platforms and Okta.
- Transform Customer Experiences– Okta would like customers to know that there’s no competitive advantage to building your own identity solution for customer-facing or partner-facing applications. Instead, customers should use Okta’s established identity solutions to enhance security, greatly improve time to market (Okta has options for ZERO CODING login widgets), and focus development on adding business value.
- Secure the Business– Okta’s vision is for all authentication to be contextual and dynamic (vs. static of the past – most common group memberships). To that end, they announced several products (see below) and discussed a lot of new vision on how they are deepening the Okta policy engine to give admins more and more ways to ensure a user is how they assert to be and also that the appropriate security is applied when conditions change. AND they showed some amazing demonstrations of a real world solution of having NO PASSWORDS at all but delivering a highly secure authentication experience.
KEY PRODUCT AND INTEGRATION ANNOUCEMENTS:
- Adaptive SSO (new sku) enables Contextual Access Management by evaluating the context of the user’s login to assess risk, enabling secure authentication with minimal user friction. DEVICE, LOCATION, and NETWORK contexts have been in Okta for some time, but now they are adding a RISK context with ThreatInsight
- Okta ThreatInsight – https://www.okta.com/programs/threatinsight/
- Sign In with Okta – https://www.okta.com/programs/sign-in-with-okta/
- Okta’s FREE “Identity by Okta” Version – https://www.okta.com/programs/free-one-app/
Jim Marshall- Building that strategic partnership in the IDaaS space will greatly benefit the customer, opens the doors easily for them to evaluate their Identity process, and creates opportunities for us to assist them as they begin adopting more SasS offerings.
To me, the following product announcements demonstrate Okta’s commitment to strategically grow their solution with key technology partners:
o If you haven’t heard of Workplace yet (no one knew what Facebook was 12 years ago) that’s OK. This is Facebook’s effort to bring their success in creating a social platform to the Enterprise. I am sure this would offend someone at Facebook, but think of it as an alternative to an intranet, Slack, Yammer, O365 Teams, etc. It’s a collaboration platform built on the same or very similar design and functionality principals from the ridiculously successful social media site. Using Workplace, employees can easily connect, communicate, and collaborate across their devices. Workplace makes it easier for employees to chat, video conference, and collaborate on important projects, deliverables, and documents.
o It’s a free tool unless you want to use Premium features like SSO and Identity integrations, data retention, advanced user functions (manage other users’ content), APIs, analytics, etc.
o If customers purchase Workplace by Facebook Premium they will be able to provision and de-provision users from on-premises Active Directory as well as set certain permissions.
o Also, Facebook is an inaugural partner in project Onramp, which will enable users to PROVISION a Workplace instance (DEPLOY a brand new app) with one click from the new Okta catalog. Okta reports that Workplace is their 5th fastest growing application in usage.
o Okta is on a mission to CONNECT EVERYTHING as mentioned in the previous email. To that end, they are taking their Okta Integration Network (OIN) catalog to a whole new level with Project Onramp
o This will be a catalog of services that are integrated with Okta that customers of OKTA can use to “shop” for applications and then completely PROVISION them from the Okta catalog.
o Details were sparse on how payment for services and workflows like that work, but think of this as almost an APP STORE model where users who are already leveraging Okta can get additional value by visualizing well- known applications that Okta is 100% integrated with…and provision them from a single place.
o If a customer really believes in Okta and makes Identity a core tenant of their security policy, then this could be their go-to tool for coming up with short lists of products to consider.
o Demo’s also showed that Okta may share dashboards, showing things like how many Okta users were using a certain CRM tool, or let users search for the most popular applications. Okta would only show real numbers in here and not marketing data. So users would have infallible facts to show them who uses what applications the most. Pretty impressive.
o Okta is bringing together VMware Workspace ONE and the Okta Identity Cloud to deliver a very deep and integrated experience for what they call the “premier digital workspace provider”.
o Remember, though, that Okta wants to be NEUTRAL, so this partnership was started by VMware communicating their desire to leverage Okta and take advantage of what Okta calls “Network Effects”.