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Okta service offers single sign-on for all cloud apps

Nancy Gohring | Jan. 27, 2011
While using cloud-based applications solves some problems for IT administrators, it also creates new ones, including how to handle user identity management.

"That was the real security hole I wanted to plug," Doyle said.

In addition, Okta shows IT administrators if employees are actually using individual services. That can help IT departments keep costs down by eliminating subscriptions for people who aren't using services.

It's a feature Doyle really appreciates. "For me, one of the most important things is managing adoption early in the process," he said. "If you have good visibility into who's logging in and when, it's good data to have but it also gives you the opportunity to reach out to people. If you see a new user log in who hasn't before, you can send an e-mail or pick up the phone and say, 'did it go OK.'"

While some of the hosted applications Enterasys uses offer that kind of user data, some don't. Plus, Okta offers it all from a centralized location. The Okta service also warns IT administrators about potential security issues, such as when someone tries to log in but fails a certain number of times.

Okta is initially focusing on companies with up to around 1,000 employees but expects to grow to accommodate large enterprises, McKinnon said. The service costs US$12 per user per month.

For Doyle, because Okta uses Active Directory, it serves as an important tool to unite cloud-based and on-premise apps. "It makes all of our cloud apps behave the same way as our on-premise apps behave," he said. "We want to get to the point where our users can't tell if they're logging into a cloud app or an on-premise app."

 

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