Great People and Great Feedback at BigIdeas 2010

In taking a moment to gather thoughts as the BigIdeas Conference wraps ups here in Chicago, it’s clear that we had a great show. Two of the themes of the show were “customer success” and “have fun” and the BigMachines folks really delivered on both aspects.

First, it’s cool to work with great partners like BigMachines who build products that their customers love. BigMachines has happy customers because they emphasize post-sales customer success so heavily and it really showed in their numerous raving fans that readily extolled their virtues, both to us as a partner, and to other prospects that attended. Frankly, I’m not sure how any prospect could attend the show and not walk away impressed.

Here at Okta, we can also attest to the fact that BigMachines is equally amazing to work with as a partner. As part of Okta’s integration with BigMachines for single sign-on (SSO) and user management (provisioning/de-provisioning) we worked closely with Ali Kheiri and the BMI team to help enable their SAML capabilities. Ali was both a great technical resource and he gave an outstanding presentation on stage with Freddy about how BigMachines SSO and user management actually works.

Moreover, as a sponsor of the conference, it was a pleasure to work with Will Wiegler and his marketing staff. I don’t know how exactly they pulled off such a flawless event, but everything was first class from top-to-bottom. Swissotel was beautiful setting, the food was excellent and the party at House of Blues was tons of fun. What surprised me most was how outgoing and friendly every one of the BigMachines staff was. We literally met every BigMachines team member in attendance, which is great because not only were they the kind of people you’d want to hang out with but also so that as our partnership grows deeper we have even more interconnections between the two companies.

While the parties, food and educational content were all great, the main reason Okta sponsored the conference was to interact with customers and prospective customers. Okta and BigMachines already share a number of joint customers so we figured that their conference would be an excellent opportunity to speak about identity and access management challenges with forward thinking organizations that are rapidly adopting SaaS for the tremendous ROI, productivity and ease of adoption benefits that it delivers. As expected, we met tons of really smart people who provided invaluable feedback. A couple of quick observations:

  • Ease of use – IT and application administrators are extremely busy so having a service that delivers instant value is essential.
  • Businesses need SSO into all their web applications – Having a wide portfolio of hundreds of SaaS apps is equally important supporting internal custom built apps because trading 15 passwords for 1 is a lot more compelling than 15 for 7.
  • Integration with on premise directories – Businesses have tremendous investments in their existing directory structures and leveraging them enables tremendous time savings, automation and security benefits. Customers love how easy our Active Directory integration is and it was neat to validate that the LDAP connector our engineers are diligently working on is hotly anticipated.

All in all, it was one of the best conferences I’ve ever had the pleasure of sponsoring and we certainly look forward to coming back to the Windy City for BigIdeas 2011!