Freedom, I Won’t Let You Down…

07 May 2020

…nor will freedom, so says George Michael, give you up, and Okta CEO and co-founder Todd McKinnon concurs. So much so that he chose freedom as the theme for this year’s Oktane20 conference.

We’ll get to why in a second.

As you’ll probably have guessed, Covid-19 put paid to anyone actually showing up so this year’s live conference for 6,000 attendees was transformed into a virtual conference for 20,000. Props to Sarah Shaheen and her corporate events team at Okta for turning it around in just four weeks. They did a brilliant job and their first ever digital conference – Oktane20 Live – was a fantastic success.

As always, the list of keynote speakers was seriously impressive including the multi-talented actor, comedian, writer, producer and director Amy Poehler; former four-star general, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and US Secretary of State Colin Powell and Sam Esmail, the writer and director of tech thriller Mr Robot.

The Okta guys really know how to put on a show!

Actually, just before we move onto the ins and outs of Oktane20 Live, here’s a fascinating interview with Okta COO Frederic Kerrest who joined Motley Fool CEO Tom Gardner and senior analyst Bill Mann to talk about the past, present and future of Okta.


So, What Happened?


Let’s cycle back a step and let Mr McKinnon explain why he chose freedom as this year’s theme.

‘At Okta, we believe that you need the freedom to choose, connect to, and build with the best technology available for your organizations. The agility and flexibility of your businesses depend on it; both today, in unprecedented times, and in the future as they become more dynamic and distributed.’

The classic corporate soundbite that doesn’t really tell us much but he goes on to explain it in terms that even the most tech-adverse can understand –

Below the tech products you use there has to be layers that enable them to operate efficiently. In an operating system the layers are services for memory, display and networks. In your tech infrastructure there are service layers for computation, storage and databases and at Oktane20 Live, they announced Okta Platform Services which they describe as foundational, service-oriented technologies that will truly revolutionise Okta Identity Cloud.

Sounds great, but what does Okta Platform Services actually do?

There are six core technologies that each serve a specific purpose within the Okta Identity Cloud:

Okta Identity Engine: Runs a customisable sequence of steps to deliver authentication, authorisation, and registrations flows based on context.

Okta Workflows: Automates complex identity-centric business processes, all without code.

Okta Devices: Collects device identity and context to inform access decisions and enhance user experience, powering key features including Okta FastPass, Limited Access, Device Visibility, and Remote Sign-out.

Okta Directories: Stores users and attributes, making Okta Universal Directory and User Management products more flexible and scalable.

Okta Integrations: Offers tools, templates, and frameworks that make it easy for partners and customers to build integrations and publish them to the Okta Integration Network.

Okta Insights: Aggregates, analyses, and disseminates Okta data to be used across systems. Insights-powered features — ThreatInsight, HealthInsight, and UserInsight — leverage data to increase overall security posture by blocking malicious IP addresses, offering personalised recommendations for security policies and settings, and alerting end-users of suspicious account activity.

There are no code, low code and pro-code options and in their own words, ‘Beyond combining platform services to make custom features, Okta’s extensible platform enables you to add integrations (both pre-built and bespoke) with third-party apps and systems for next-level extensibility.’


Next-level extensibility. Nice.


What Else Did They Announce?


They introduced Okta FastPass which is a password-less login tool operated through the Okta Verify app.

In a nutshell, when a user creates an account on the app it begins a persistent session with Okta and then afterwards, when the same user accesses an Okta-managed app, they don’t need to enter a password. It also integrates with biometric authentication.

The rather excellently named Diya Jolly, Okta’s Chief Product Officer said ‘IT teams are tasked with operating vast technology ecosystems made up of a diverse set of applications, operating systems, and devices, all focused on providing choice and flexibility to their workforces. Going password-less not only makes employees happy, but it can make them more secure by relying on stronger factors like biometrics. Okta FastPass eliminates the need for a password regardless of an employee’s device choice.’

Todd McKinnon finished his presentation by saying ‘the true mark of innovation is taking something incredibly complex and making it appear simple, and that’s just what FastPass does.’


And If That Wasn’t Enough…


Okta also announced that they’ve signed strategic partnerships with VMware Carbon Black, CrowdStrike and Tanium to ‘provide a broad set of device risk signals to the Okta Identity Cloud and enable enterprises to combine endpoint risk detection with user identity to deliver powerful access security’, according to Pulse2 writer Amit Chowdry.

To come full circle, these integrations – driving enhanced risk analysis and access decisions in a Zero Trust environment – are made possible through the new Okta Verify app as well as their new Platform Services.

You can read the full article here and Okta’s blog post on the subject here.


We Also Saw The Human Face Of Tech


Alongside these fantastic new innovations that will undoubtedly aid the way enterprises work from a systems and processes standpoint, the business has also paused for thought to assess the impact of Covid-19 and are looking at the best ways to respond and support those in need.

To this end and to ensure that every organisation can maintain business continuity, data security and productivity, they have made Okta’s core services available for free to all new customers via their Emergency Remote Work Program.

That notwithstanding, Okta for Good is committing $500,000 to Covid-19 relief efforts which includes donation matching for the Oktane20 Live giving campaign. Todd McKinnon and his wife Roxanne are personally committing $500,000 and will match donations dollar-for-dollar to the giving campaign, more of which you can read about here.

What bloody nice blokes.

Contact us today on or call 020 7078 0789 and we’ll talk cloud and email security, communications platforms, cutting-edge IT solutions or if home-schooling your children, working a full-time job and staying sane are happy bedfellows…


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