Virgin Media O2 consolidates 32 Identity management providers into one with Okta

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Virgin Media O2 centralizes its Identity Management verification with Okta

When Virgin Media merged with O2, the UK’s best and fastest telecom providers came together under one roof. Progress also brought challenges in the form of outdated tech, disparate systems, and sluggish processes, creating siloed access across the organization. Okta helped Virgin Media 02 consolidate its identity management to provide agility, security, and speed, helping to support its next phase of growth.

“Our final destination for Virgin Media O2 is one unified company that works together for its customers and enables its staff to do what they need to do as quickly and easily as possible. Okta empowers us to get the business moving and help people do their jobs without friction.”

Kerry Lee, Head of Internal Identity

When two telecommunications super tankers come together, customers can expect great things: broader coverage, faster networks, and unparalleled user experiences. Virgin Media merged with O2 in July 2021, bringing the best and fastest solutions in mobile, broadband, and TV together under one roof. However, a merger of this size also brought challenges for employees and customers.

“Today, connectivity is like tap water: you expect to have it,” says Fortune Barnard, Director of Digital Security and Resilience at Virgin Media O2. But with digital-native companies dominating the telecom space, Virgin Media and O2 knew their disparate systems, sluggish processes, and brittle deployment environment were blocking their ability to provide the resilient services customers expect.

With its mission to “see what you can do” in mind, the team turned to Okta to add flexibility and efficiency to their technology environment and business, centralising Identity and pushing the boundaries for what they can achieve.

Accelerating merger value through unified Identity

When the merger process began, Virgin Media and O2 had their own identity infrastructure– and a total of 32 separate providers. Siloed solutions led to siloed results, with developers struggling to stay ahead of innovation and release cycles.

The new firm was familiar with Okta and knew they could provide the agility, flexibility, and versatility developers needed to power fast transformation across a heterogeneous tech stack. This made Okta a natural choice for Virgin Media O2 to integrate the two “super tankers,” drive efficiencies, and bolster the company’s security posture.

Principal Identity Architect Mark Lewis leads the company’s Identity strategy. “When the merger started, we had to find a way to give everybody a new, unified Identity,” he says. “They were no longer Virgin Media and O2—everybody was Virgin Media O2. So we introduced Okta as the single platform across the new organisation.”

By leveraging deep integrations with Virgin Media and O2’s HR processes, Okta Workforce Identity Cloud will act as the central source of truth for all user identities, enabling the company to easily scale complex lifecycle management, create strong access policies, and enable collaboration across the business.

“Okta quickly became the lynchpin for securing identities while going beyond typical use cases in four aspects: compliance, employee experience, innovation, and financial growth,” Barnard says.

Automating lifecycle management and meeting compliance standards with Okta Identity Governance

Before Okta, many Identity systems were stored on-premises and required manual tasks to create each user, assign permissions, and complete other crucial onboarding tasks.

Okta Identity Governance (OIG) simplifies these processes, combining the power of Okta Lifecycle Management and Okta Workflows to automate complex lifecycle management processes across joiner, mover, and leaver actions.

For example, if someone has changed roles within the company, OIG can remove or update the user’s previous access. Based on attributes automatically sourced from Virgin Media O2’s HR system, Okta knows who should have access to information, when and where, to help keep critical data secure at all times.

It used to take two weeks to grant new employees access to all the right systems and information. By providing near-instant access, Okta will help empower employees with the tools, resources, and support they need to do their best work from day one.

Additionally, Virgin Media O2 is required to comply with multiple regulations in the heavily regulated telecom industry. Typically, managing and ensuring access and compliance can be a tedious and time-consuming process, with a high margin of error, expensive deployment cycles, and load on internal teams.

“We want to remove impediments from the business so we can deliver for our customers without worrying about compliance on the backend,” Barnard says. “With Okta, we can outsource our compliance headaches.”

OIG extends Virgin Media O2’s Identity management capabilities, achieving compliance with automated reviews, ensuring the correct levels of access are granted, and guaranteeing the right approvals have been completed. This functionality also helps Virgin Media O2 maintain a principle of least privilege across the business.

“Okta ensures that the right person has the right access at the right time, and just enough access,” says Lewis. “If they don't need access to something, Okta won’t grant it.”

Simplifying the employee experience with unified solutions

Speed and security are paramount to building trust with Virgin Media O2 customers, and one can’t exist without the other. As Virgin Media O2 moves towards a passwordless authentication experience for all users, advancing their Zero Trust initiatives, Okta will help improve employee experience and achieve greater security for everyone.

With Okta Single Sign-On, corporate employees can access any platform they need, on any device, with a single Identity. Okta FastPass enables secure, passwordless authentication, removing the need to remember usernames and passwords across systems. Built-in phishing resistance and adaptive policy checks provide additional layers of security, helping Virgin Media O2 deliver efficient solutions at scale without compromising on security.

A partnership built to last

Okta now secures all workforce identities for Virgin Media O2, enabling agility and speed through flexible security controls, a modern user experience, and improved automation. As merger activities progress, the company will continue to rely on Okta’s strategic partnership and Customer First team. Through hands-on support, daily stand-up meetings, and exceptional project management, Okta’s Customer Success and Professional Services teams help drive alignment and time to value.

Since merging identity processes with Okta, Virgin Media O2 has seen productivity and efficiency gains. As the company looks to the future of its Identity strategy, it will evaluate how AI can help enable stronger, more seamless security features and further establish the organisation’s Zero Trust framework.

“Our final destination for Virgin Media O2 is one unified company that works together for its customers and its staff,” says Kerry Lee, Head of Internal Identity. “Okta empowers us to get the business moving and help people do their jobs without friction.”

About Customer

Virgin Media O2 combines two of the UK’s most iconic brands, merging more than 46 million broadband, mobile, phone, and home subscribers, and 18,700 employees. They’ve come together to provide more choice and better value for customers, communities, and businesses all over the country.