AFGE becomes a cloud-centric organisation with Okta



Taylor Higley:  My name's Taylor Higley. I work at the American Federation of Government Employees as the IT Director. The American Federation of Government Employees is the federal government and DC government's labour union. We have 300,000 members and 375 employees.

There's three pillars of identity that we were looking at for a solution at AFGE. The first was trust. So we have to be able to trust the provider that we're handing over this identity to. The second pillar was reliability. We don't want these 3:00 AM wake up calls. We want to know that the service is always on, always available. The third part is a robust, open integration framework. We wanted to know that we weren't going to be siloed into one vendor, one solution. We wanted to pick the best parts of the cloud ecosystem and be sure that they worked with our identity provider.

What we found as an IT team, we spent more time trying to maintain that on-premise ADFS solution than we were spending before resetting passwords and doing everything else. Nobody likes 3:00 AM wake up calls, and so the thing that took us off ADFS was our IT people really had a good incentive to find a better way.

We started to look for a partner that we could hand off a lot of the heavy lifting with identity to. Eventually, that led us to Okta. The technology, there's various points that you can compare, but what really shone for Okta was we knew we could contact support, and we knew that Okta had our back when we had trouble. A lot of other providers, the technology works, but when the chips are really down, they may not be in the position to help you out like you need.

It was one of the easiest services to deploy and train users on. There's the single sign-on piece, which is the core and foundation. That's an amazing feature that we just never had before. The second one is the ease of administration for our IT folks. The third is the self-service ability to add apps.

AFGE implemented universal two-factor authentication about two years ago. We integrate that with Okta. Its been a seamless experience, and we've appreciated the open approach to integration so that we can use our duo security with Okta, and make those best choices in integrations.

Office 365 is one of AFGE's core business apps. Integrating it with Okta not only made the process of sign on easier, but it also gave a good focal point to then build out all the other applications and integrations into Okta as well. We did think about using Microsoft to connect to Office 365. Ultimately, that decision came down to one of the people and the support.

Since we've gone live on Okta, AFGE has found that the support's been as good or better than even during the sales process. So we knew that Okta was a real partner. If AFGE were to get rid of Okta tomorrow, I'd have a lot of really unhappy people, and so we're certainly keeping it. For every minute that we don't have to spend on doing a password reset, we can put those resources towards things that the members will actually benefit from.

Without a good identity layer like Okta, we really couldn't be the cloud centric, forward thinking organisation we've become. AFGE has completed its migration to the cloud, so we're all in on cloud at this point. Our next thing is focusing on mobility, focusing on data analytics, and really understanding how can we better serve our membership, and how can we make government better.

There's two ways that I describe our time as it relates to identity. There's pre-Okta and post-Okta. We just don't want to go back to pre-Okta, and that's the best way I can describe it.

With over 300,000 members and 375 employees, the American Federation of Government Employees had everything to gain in migratng from ADFS, and into using Okta's Single Sign-On and Identity Management features. However, their biggest prize of all was our always reliable, never relenting support from both our team and technology.