‘Companies have realised they can no longer trust their network and have to understand device security instead of trusting everyone behind a firewall. Now IT and security leaders must trust no-one, inside or outside the organisation.’
Boom! Shots fired by Frederic ‘Freddy’ Kerrest, Okta’s co-founder and COO.
He’s right though.
That’s why Okta, the San Francisco-based company he founded in 2009 with Todd McKinnon – currently valued at close to $6 billion – has acquired fellow Bay Area start-up ScaleFT. It’s so they can boost their identity verification with ScaleFT’s Zero Trust toolkit for managing access to company web apps and servers.
This is a deal that, according to Kerrest ‘will bring automatic firepower to both our security offerings and our team.’
Shots fired, literally…
As always, details of the acquisition remain undisclosed.
According to cbronline.com, ScaleFT’s Zero Trust software ‘assumes that no traffic within an enterprise’s network is any more trustworthy by default than traffic entering from outside the firewall.’
With the acquisition of ScaleFT (who count amongst their numbers ex-Apache, Rackspace and Yahoo! veterans), Okta is ready to attack the VPN market – estimated to be worth £86 billion by 2022) – by pushing Zero Trust architecture.
Ultimately, it’s a simple premise. It’s about ensuring that the right people have access to the right company resources for the shortest amount of time.
The sentence directly above this one was put in a far more techy way by Mr Kerrest, ‘Together, we’ll work to bring Zero Trust to the enterprise by providing organizations with a framework to protect sensitive data, without compromising on experience. Okta and ScaleFT will deliver next-generation continuous authentication capabilities to secure server access – from cloud to ground.’
We think they mean the same thing.
Who Are ScaleFT?
Their About Us page is rather twee. Their corporate staff picture looks more like a line-up of the arts and crafts department at a summer camp and their copy somewhat downplays a major IT disruptor…
‘We understand the challenges IT departments face every day, and it’s our goal to build meaningful solutions that solve real pain points and help people with their jobs.’
Typical IT-speak. Promises the world but doesn’t actually mean anything.
‘As the adoption of cloud apps and mobile devices in the enterprise continues to grow, companies must re-evaluate their traditional approaches to enterprise security’ says Freddy Kerrest, and that re-evaluation starts with ScaleFT.
What Exactly Are Okta Buying?
ScaleFT’s access management platform will help Okta get better visibility of device trust, something that is increasingly important with more and more people working from home, coffee shops, even aeroplanes.
Traditionally, companies would use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) – essentially an encrypted tunnel – for remote users to access shared files drives and important business data not housed in cloud-based applications, platforms and environments.
What ScaleFT brings to the party is a more granular form of contextualised access management including features that allow organisations to authenticate users without relying on something so antiquated as passwords.
Koncise’s Stephen Dorling said ‘ScaleFT helps companies better understand contextual information about devices trying to access business-critical data to determine whether the likes of Okta (which looks at log-in information) should grant access or not.’
They’re also buying expertise. ScaleFT CEO and co-founder Jason Luce will manage the transition while his fellow co-founder and CTO Paul Querna will lead the strategy and execution of Okta’s Zero Trust architecture and CSO Marc Rogers will join Okta as Executive Director, Cybersecurity Strategy.
With all of the acquisitions and fundraising rounds we’ve reported on in the last month or so (Netskope and Sift Security, Mimecast and Ataata, Tessian raising £9m) it’s always hard to know how it’s all going to pan out. The press releases are always visionary, forward-thinking documents outlining not only the facts but also including gushing drivel from the bosses on how ‘the two families are coming together as a force for good etc) but perhaps the most interesting element of the official Okta presser is the caveat at the end.
The paragraph is entitled Cautionary Language Concerning Forward-Looking Statements. It’s worth a read…!
Have a good week.