Our 4 Takeaways from Oktane16

Fruition Partners is an Okta partner and as such we could not miss Oktane16 in Las Vegas. This annual conference gathers now more than 2000 customers, prospects, partners, employees, IT and Identity experts to discover what endorses Okta as the leader of cloud identity, exchange with peers, make connections and learn from each other. Needless to say that I enjoyed this event a lot. Here are THE 4 Takeaways I would like to share with you:

1/ Go!
The cloud revolution we are living is a huge driver for innovation. Thanks to it, IT’s mission is no longer to repeatedly deploy, maintain and secure infrastructures but to run a positive change that will transform the way people consume and hence work. But it has also extended the innovation gap – the difference between what an organisation is doing today and the full potential it is able to achieve – as new technologies bring almost endless possibilities.
The conference started with a philosophical question « What is identity? » and from an IT perspective, it is the fine art of finding a balance between end-user experience and high security.
Okta proposes a cloud identity platform born and build in the cloud, and its vision is to improve the connections between people and tools to make companies more productive and secure. It can seem like a hard mission to connect people to technology, but completing it, closing the innovation gap will allow everyone to go wherever they want as fast as they want.
One step towards this is certainly the announcement that came from Google: Diane Green explained that Okta is now a Preferred Identity Provider for Google Apps enterprise customers.

2/ Better, faster, stronger
Lot of functionalities have been enhanced, more and more integration have been set up and many of them were announced during the conference. Three of them left the biggest impression on me:

Contextual Access Management:
Three products at a time have been improved. « Single Sign On » , « Adaptive MFA » and « Mobility Management » are moving forward together to build up « Contextual Access Management ». This new capability is centered on the user’s context. When a user accesses an application, Okta collects and uses the entire relative context (time, location, device type, machines configurations…). By managing and processing this data, it can enable an unrivaled user experience without over-securing and blocking the user. It goes beyond adaptive MFA and it is neutral because the access does not depend on any vendor or technology. It securely connects everyone to anything.

Lifecycle Management:
When talking with prospects and customers about « Provisioning » I’ve sometimes had difficulties to explain what’s behind this word. It has been renamed  « Lifecycle management », definitely a more relevant term. It’s not only a word thing, but this product has also been enhanced to improve Okta’s core Identity and Access management capabilities. For example, contractors’ lifecycle can now be driven by simple policies and removed from the system when contract ends. Yes, Okta has finally found the delete button!

API Access Management:
Today’s most innovative services are actually a mashup of a set of other services. For instance Uber uses Google maps for mapping and geolocation and Twilio for communications. To help developers to secure and connect more and more applications, Okta has launched a new product: API Access Management. Go to https://www.oauth.com/ to find out more about it.

3/ A foolproof combo : ServiceNow + Okta
In the wake of Fred Luddy speech at Oktane14, both companies are building a strong partnership. This is a natural and logical continuation as bridges between IAM and ITSM are multiple. Access Management is an ITIL process, thus as a good practice, access request should be logged and managed within an ITSM tool.

Figures I’ve got from my Service Management experience establish that depending on the customer’s profile, 40 to 70% incidents and requests raised by end-users in ITSM tools are related to access request or password reset. Effective and efficient IAM processes reduces costs and improves organizations’ productivity while protecting people and business. ServiceNow has been offering for many years a very powerful self-service portal providing a customer-oriented e-shopping experience. Naturally, in combining both tools you can get a huge return on investment. ServiceNow can leverage Okta’s Lifecycle management by seamlessly driving complex identities workflows such as user on boarding. While Okta can extend ServiceNow’s Orchestration with its numerous provisioning integrations with OAN’s applications. (OAN= Okta Application Network https://www.okta.com/resources/find-your-apps/ ).

As a real life example Broadcom Limited lead a breakout session at Oktane, presenting positive returns from the Okta + ServiceNow project they’ve lead since last year and it’s still evolving.

4/ Europe is emerging
Even though the majority of attendees were Americans, the attendance by European partners and customers was noticeable.
For example, Engie, a French multinational energy utility company was honored at Oktane16. Claude Pierre the global CIO deputy of Engie was Frederic Kerrest’s guest on stage for the second keynote.  According to him, the energy sector is dramatically transforming as climate changes cause a rapid growth of renewable energies and production becomes more and more distributed and decentralized. To adapt to these changes,  Engie launched a global transformation program. A key part of it was to deploy a single and global collaboration platform based on Office 365 with high challenges:

magnitude: 150000+ users across 60 countries to manage
speed: project’s timeline was 6 months
diversity: federate people with different culture and using different technologies to deploy a decentralized Global Solution

Okta has brilliantly taken up the challenge by becoming the transparent IAM foundation layer of the platform including the development of new features and integrating more than 100 local active directories in 4 months.

All in all Oktane16 was a great event with many interesting insights. Did you also go? Which were your takeaways?

Emmanuel joined Fruition Partners in 2012 and works as Senior Consultant in the Paris Office. He is certified System Administrator, Implementation Specialist and Application Developer. As the Okta Specialist within Fruition Partners, he helps companies to securely connect people and tools.
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