Feb
11
2020
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Good news for enterprise startups: SaaS helped kill the single-vendor stack

In the old days of enterprise software, when companies like IBM, Oracle and Microsoft ruled the roost, there was a tendency to shop from a single vendor. You bought the whole stack, which made life easier for IT — even if it didn’t always work out so well for end users, who were stuck using software that was designed with administrators in mind.

Once Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) came along, IT no longer had complete control over software choices. The companies that dominated the market began to stumble — although Microsoft later found its way — and a new generation of SaaS vendors developed.

As that happened, users saw a way to pick and choose software that worked best for them, as they were no longer bound to clunky enterprise software; they wanted tools at work that worked as well as the ones they used in the consumer space at home.

Through freemium models and low-cost subscriptions, individual employees and teams started selecting their own tools, and a new way of buying software began to take hold. Instead of buying software from a single shop, consumers could buy the best tool for the job. This in turn, led to wider adoption, as these small groups of users led the way to more lucrative enterprise deals.

The philosophical change has worked well for enterprise startups. The new world means a well-executed idea can beat an incumbent with a similar product. Just ask companies like Slack, Zoom and Box, which have shown what’s possible when you put users first.

Apr
02
2019
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Okta brings identity management to server level

Since it was founded in 2009, Okta has been focused on protecting identity — first for individuals in the cloud, and later at the device level. Today at its Oktane customer conference, the company announced a new level of identity protection at the server level.

The new tool, called Advanced Server Access, provides identity management for Windows and Linux Servers, whether they are in a data center or the cloud. The product supports major cloud infrastructure vendors like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and Google Cloud Platform, and gives IT the ability to protect access to servers, reduce the likelihood of identity theft and bring a level of automation to the server credential process.

As company founder and CEO Todd McKinnon points out, as every organization becomes a technology company building out their own applications, protecting servers becomes increasingly critical. “Identity is getting more and more important because there is more technology and zero trust in the network. You need to manage identity not just for users or devices. We are now applying our identity [experience] to the most critical resources for these emerging tech companies, their servers,” he said.

McKinnon explained that developers typically communicate with Linux servers via the SSH protocol. It required logging in of course, even before today’s announcement, but what Okta is doing is simplifying that in the same way it simplified logging into cloud applications for individuals.

People’s roles change over time, but instead of changing those roles at the identity layer to allow access to the server, in a typical shop the development or operations team creates an admin account with a superset of permissions and simply shares that. “That means the admin account has all the permissions, and also means they are sharing these credentials,” he said. If those credentials get stolen, the thief potentially has access to the entire universe of servers inside a company.

Okta’s idea is to bring a level of automation to the server identity management process, so that users maintain their own individual credentials and permissions in a more automated fashion, even as roles change across the entire server infrastructure a company manages. “It’s continuous, automatic, real-time checking of the state of the machine, and the state of the user and the permissions that makes it far more secure,” he said.

The tool is continuously monitoring this information to make sure nothing has changed such as another machine has taken over, avoiding man-in-the-middle attacks. It’s also making sure that there is no virus or malware, and that the person who is using the machine is who they say they are and has access at the level they are using it.

Okta went public almost exactly two years ago, and it needs to keep finding ways to expand its core identity services. Bringing it to the server level as this new product moves the idea of identity management deeper into a technology stack, and McKinnon hinted the company isn’t done yet.

“You might not think of server access as an identity opportunity, but the way we do it will make it clear that it really is an opportunity, and the same can be said for the next several innovations we will have after this,” he said.

Jan
22
2019
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Okta appoints former Charles Schwab exec to board of directors

Okta, the Nasdaq-listed cloud identity management company, has recruited former Charles Schwab chief marketing officer Becky Saeger to its board of directors. The latest appointment comes one month after the company named Shellye Archambeau, former chief executive officer of MetricStream, to its board.

Saeger becomes Okta’s third female board member. Michelle Wilson, a former senior vice president and general counsel at Amazon, joined the company’s board in 2015. According to data collected by Women on Boards, women hold just over 17 percent of corporate board seats, up from 16.0 percent in 2017.

“A board is there for a few reasons,” Okta co-founder and CEO Todd McKinnon told TechCrunch. “One is to oversee a company’s management and strategy. A company like Okta is in a fast-growing industry and there is too much of a tendency for groupthink. You need someone around you to question the basis of what you’re thinking about.”

McKinnon has spoken openly about his commitment to diversity. In a letter to employees in early 2017, for example, he denounced President Donald Trump’s temporary ban on refugee admissions to the U.S. “Diversity of thought and experience are fundamental values at Okta, that includes religious beliefs, gender diversity, sexual orientation and political views,” he wrote. “No matter who you voted for, our opposition to this policy is not just about our business — it is also about our belief in the American freedoms and protections that have made our country so innovative and accepting of those most in need.”

Okta’s C-suite, though majority male, includes chief customer officer Krista Anderson-Copperman, executive vice president and chief of staff Angela Grady, and chief people officer Kristina Johnson.

Saeger, who McKinnon chose for her marketing and financial services acumen, also sits on the board of E*TRADE, an online broker.

“I am excited about the notion that as this company grows and evolves, the brand can become more visible and more meaningful,” Saeger told TechCrunch.

Headquartered in San Francisco, Okta debuted on the stock exchange in April 2017, closing up 38 percent on its first day of trading.

Aug
29
2017
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Okta makes 2FA standard for all customers as it opens Oktane customer conference

Okta Team Rings Bell There was a time when two-factor identification (2FA) was nice to have, but times have changed as hackers get ever more sophisticated and users need whatever edge they can get. Perhaps that’s why Okta, the cloud identity company that went public earlier this year, announced that it’s making 2FA the standard for all its customers.
They made the announcement at their annual Oktane… Read More

Apr
07
2017
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Okta pops as Wall Street continues to take a shine to the enterprise

Okta Team Rings Bell Okta came out of the gate strong today in its Wall Street debut, attracting the type of institutional investors CEO Todd McKinnon says should be around for the long haul. This IPO comes at a time when Wall Street appears ready to embrace enterprise technology companies. Read More

Aug
30
2016
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Okta extends identity management to APIs

Man and woman back to back with smart phones. Behind them on chalk board is a collection symbols representing different apps. Okta announced it was bringing identity management to APIs today at its Oktane customer conference in Las Vegas.
For a long time, Okta was about connecting people with cloud applications such as ServiceNow, Salesforce or Office 365. A couple of years ago, the company extended that capability to enable customers to control the devices where employees could access those cloud… Read More

Mar
17
2016
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Okta expands partnership with Box to include enterprise mobility management

Business woman holding mobile phone. Okta, a company mostly known for cloud identity management, made a foray into enterprise mobility management (EMM) at the end of 2014. Today, it announced a partnership with Box to support device-level security for the Box mobile app. The company is hoping this is the start of a series of partnerships with enterprise mobile app vendors that will enable them to apply a set of policies on… Read More

Aug
20
2015
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Okta Customer Research Finds Office 365 Most Used Cloud Service

Concept with man looking at apps with lock in the middle to denote security. As a cloud identity management service, Okta collects tons of data about how its customers use other cloud products. Today it released its first Okta Business @ Work Report. Among the many compelling findings was that Microsoft’s Office 365 was the favorite cloud service overall so far this year. Okta is not alone in using the data it collects to generate reports. ZenDesk puts out… Read More

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