Okta Review

Okta is an American identity and access management (IAM) company that helps organizations manage and secure user authentication into applications, and developers to build identity controls into applications, websites, web services, and devices. Okta is built on top of a secure cloud and makes use of cloud technologies to assist businesses to manage and secure user authentication into apps. The service mainly targets enterprise businesses and first-order clouds such as collaboration cloud (Microsoft 365, Google Docs, Slack, Jive), infrastructure cloud (AWS, Azure, Google), CRM cloud (Salesforce), data analytics cloud (SAP HANA, IBM Watson), monitoring cloud (Splunk, Sumo Logic), ERP cloud (Dynamic 365, NetSuite), and many others.

Screenshot of Okta home page
Figure 1.0 | Screenshot of Okta home page

Okta has distinguished itself as a leader in the identity and access management space and has a mature, robust platform to show for it. It was named a Leader in the Gartner 2022 Magic Quadrant for Access Management for the sixth consecutive year. It is hard to find another identity management platform that matches its flexibility in terms of policies and automation.

Why Do Businesses Need Okta?

The modern workplace has transformed. The network infrastructure behind the modern workplace has become fluid, extending to the cloud—SaaS, IaaS, and PaaS. And more and more cloud applications—whether sanctioned or unsanctioned by IT—are added to the mix. As organizations race to migrate to the cloud and accommodate an increasingly remote workforce, the traditional approach to security makes less sense in such highly diverse and distributed environments.

One of the main weaknesses of the traditional approach to security is its inability to provide adequate protection in today’s cloud-based landscape. It assumes that everything inside an organization’s network can be trusted. One implication of this assumption is that it keeps us blind to threats that get inside the network, which are then left to freely roam and attack the network wherever they choose. To overcome this deficiency, organizations must adopt new approaches to protect the modern enterprise and the increasing number of mobile or dispersed users. One such new approach is identity and access management (IAM).

Okta stands as one of the leading enterprise-grade identity management services developed for the cloud to help organizations facilitate access to any application or device, anywhere. Okta offers identity and access management (IAM) solutions for both businesses and individuals. Okta’s web-based single sign-on (SSO) program is used by businesses to provide centralized access to cloud applications and third-party systems without authenticating each application individually. As PC Mag rightly noted, “not only does Okta cover every major feature category, but in many cases, its implementation of any given feature is more efficient and offers the most options”.

Here are some of the possible use cases for a business:

  • You want to incorporate authentication and authorization, and/or Single Sign-On (SSO) across multiple apps: You can utilize Okta’s out-of-the-box sign-in components or Universal Login to allow users to log in using a username and password or with their social profiles, such as Facebook or Google, as well as determine what level of access they will enjoy on the application. You can also utilize Okta SSO to allow users to log in once with a single ID and access services on multiple applications without re-entering authentication details.
  • You want to incorporate authentication and authorization into your API: Okta allows you to secure your APIs and backends for your applications so that they can only be accessed by authorized applications and users. The Okta Authentication API provides operations to authenticate users, perform multi-factor enrollment and verification, recover forgotten passwords, and unlock accounts. The API is targeted at developers who want to build their own end-to-end login experience.
  • You want to keep track of all the users of your newly created application: Okta’s Universal Directory, which allows you to create and manage users and groups, and assign permissions based on user attributes. You can also utilize Okta’s user interface which allows you to manage all of your users and their data in one place. Users can be synchronized from several different services, databases, and third-party apps.
  • You want to secure access to sensitive data, and you need a reliable MFA solution: Okta offers several MFA factors and makes enabling them easily. Additionally, you have the option to configure policies regarding factor enrollment, such as requiring executives to have an enrolled RSA token and standard users to have voice, SMS, or email required, but optionally offer the use of authenticator apps like Google Authenticator, or Okta Verify—Okta’s mobile app MFA solution.
  • You want to use an existing enterprise directory to create a federated identity: Federated identity allows users to move between different systems and apps while maintaining security. Okta’s federated identity management (FIM) offers single access to several applications across various enterprises. This allows you to grant permission to users to log in to internal and third-party apps using existing organization credentials, Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP) servers, or Active Directory (AD).

Because Okta’s solutions are robust and require minimal customization, modern enterprises looking to implement identity and access management will not go wrong with Okta. Okta services are broken down into two main categories: Customer Identity Cloud and Workforce Identity Cloud.

Customer Identity Cloud

Okta Customer Identity Cloud is a customizable customer identity solution that helps organizations resolve the tension between security, privacy, and user experience for their customers. Customer Identity Cloud is powered by Auth0 technology—a solution that adds authentication and authorization services to your applications and is built to tackle two use cases: Consumer Apps and SaaS Apps.

Okta Customer Identity Cloud for Consumer Apps helps organizations streamline user login and authentication across any device, application, or platform. This allows organizations to have a complete view of users, achieve higher customer acquisition and retention, and create a better user experience. From social login and progressive profiling to advanced security features like Adaptive Multi-factor Authentication (MFA), digital teams have everything they need to increase revenue through new and repeat customers, without added security risk.

Okta Customer Identity Cloud for SaaS Apps provides organizations and application developers with all the tools they need to roll out enterprise-wide identity solutions and accelerate a positive customer experience without having to become an identity expert. A positive customer experience promotes customer loyalty and retention. Delivering this kind of experience means making onboarding as smooth as possible, managing and customizing workflows, and providing the most secure experience from both the backend and frontend perspectives. Okta takes all of these headaches away from you so that you can focus on your core business.

Okta Customer Identity Cloud for SaaS Apps comes with out-of-the-box features such as Enterprise Federation, Delegated Administration, MFA, and custom branding.

Other features and capabilities include:

  • Universal Login Allows you to create secure, seamless, and scalable experiences without your own dedicated Identity team.
  • Actions & Extensibility Allows you to visually drag and drop actions to build custom identity flows that address your unique requirements.
  • Attack Protection Protect against a range of attacks with features such as Bot Detection, Breached Password Detection, and Suspicious IP Throttling.
  • Organizations Allows you to customize authentication and authorization workflows for your B2B customers at scale.
  • Passwordless Enable secure authentication with the option to use biometrics or security keys.
  • Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Provide intelligent access that adapts to your customers’ login behaviors.
  • Enterprise Connections Enable Enterprise Federation using pre-built integrations with commonly used Enterprise Identity Systems.

Workforce Identity Cloud

Okta Workforce Identity Cloud is designed to help organizations streamline how they manage logins and identities.  Workforce Identity Cloud unifies identity governance and administration, identity access management, and privilege access management. For many organizations, these three functions are often handled by three distinct tools, forcing security teams to cobble together integrations and handoffs that check users are who they say they are and give them the right level of access for the task they are trying to accomplish. The effect tends to be cumbersome, brittle, and difficult to scale.

Workforce Identity Cloud brings together Okta’s core identity and access management tools; Okta Identity Governance, which simplifies the process of requesting and granting access to resources; and Okta Privileged Access, which secures highly-privileged credentials for administrator and root accounts, as well as monitor and record privileged access. There is also an orchestration layer for automation. The platform provides identity validation services for consumers as well as for enterprise customers, according to Okta.

Workforce Identity Cloud key features and capabilities include:

  • Single Sign-On (SSO) SSO allows users to log in with a single ID to any of several related, yet independent, applications.
  • Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) Allows you to grant users access to the application only after successfully presenting two or more pieces of evidence to the authentication mechanism.
  • FastPass Okta FastPass allows users to use passwordless authentication to sign in to platforms. Okta FastPass is available to any customer utilizing Okta for Single Sign-On to SAML, OIDC, and WS-Fed apps.
  • Okta Integration Network Provides pre-built integrations to securely connect everything.
  • Universal Directory Provides a unified directory for all your users, groups, and devices.
  • Lifecycle Management Manage provisioning like an expert with easy-to-implement automation.
  • Identity Governance Allows you to simplify and manage your identity and access lifecycles across multiple systems and improve the overall security of your organization.
  • Workflows No code Identity automation and orchestration.

Okta Policy Management and Behavior Detection

Okta provides policies in specific areas around the platform. These policies cover key areas such as apps, MFA, and behavior detection and evaluation. With behavior detection and evaluation, Okta captures patterns of user behavior and uses this information to create profiles that describe typical patterns based on previous activity. This information enables you to configure sign-on policy rules that take into account changes in user behavior.

You can use user behavior patterns to configure when users are required to provide a second form of authentication. For example, you can configure a policy to require multi-factor authentication if a user signs in from a new location or uses a new device. Sign-on policies can be applied to individual applications to fine-tune the authentication requirements imposed before a user gains access, including evaluating whether a trusted device is being used or the login attempt exceeds a risk threshold based on previous behavior patterns. These policies ensure that only authorized users gain access to the system or app.

Okta Pricing Model

Okta operates an “a la carte” pricing model instead of a single plan with bundled pricing. The a la carte model allows business customers to develop a buying price based on the products and services their businesses require. The model allows you to select only those features your business requires from customers based on product options. This approach makes Okta’s pricing structure more complex and yet competitive than many of its competitors. It is complex because unless you are experienced in identity and access to products and features, purchasing and configuring your package can be challenging, but its collection of rich features and management tools will satisfy virtually any business use case.

Okta requires a minimum contract of $1,500 annually for Workforce Identity Cloud but offers volume discounts for enterprise customers with 5,000+ users. This means small businesses on a low budget may need to consider more affordable options or solutions. If you are considering the Okta identity and access solution, it is best you start with a free trial account. Okta offers a free trial account for Workforce Identity Cloud and Customer Identity Cloud. This allows you to evaluate Okta before deciding if it is a good fit for your business requirement.