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Gartner Catalyst: Talking Trust, Identity and Cloud Strategies

Eric Berg

We had a great few days last week down at the Gartner Catalyst event. Definitely one of the most concentrated gatherings of people to talk about the challenges enterprises are facing around identity – and Okta got a very warm reception from many identity professionals looking for a new choice beyond just the traditional legacy solutions.

As expected, there were a number of thoughtful discussions about mobile and cloud and how those forces are changing both the importance of identity and the increasing number of identity-related challenges that IT are facing as a result of those forces. And let’s just say the level of interest in what Okta is doing was really highlighted in the participation we got at our 7 a.m. breakfast session.

In our presentation with one of our large enterprise customers, entitled “Transforming Enterprise Identity: Cloud, Mobile, B2B” we jointly talked about how this large life sciences company was using Okta to manage identity across partners, customers and contractors and to replace their on-premises CA identity management software.

For such an early morning session, we had a phenomenal turnout and fielded a number of thoughtful questions about how we integrate with or replace legacy IDM systems; how Okta can be used as an independent user store for partners, customers, and contractors; and how we ensure that we’re running a secure, reliable service. The coffee they were serving must have been powerful!

Building Trust in the Cloud

One other very relevant and interesting session we attended was a roundtable discussion entitled “Is the Customer Really King?” with panelists representing AWS, Microsoft Azure, Rackspace, and salesforce.com. The discussion focused on the crucial need for cloud providers to be transparent with customers in good times and, perhaps more importantly, in bad.

It was great to see others in the industry reinforcing something that we have invested in so heavily here at Okta and that is such a core part of our DNA. With any enterprise cloud service – particularly a core infrastructure service such as identity and access management – the focus needs to be on building and running a truly enterprise grade service. As a provider, we live by the motto, “Build It, and They Will Come. Build it Right, and They Will Stay,” and we crafted our software, operational processes with that strategy as our guide.

Problems do occur, and outages do happen. In addition to investing to prevent those outages, all the panelists in this session agreed that transparency in action and communication around any such outage is absolutely critical when problems do occur.

During the roundtable everyone admitted that the actual outage isn’t the biggest problem following downtime. The principal issues come when providers keep their customers in the dark (figuratively speaking) during, and after, an outage. If providers are upfront about an outage – explaining why it happened and what their team is doing to address the situation – customers can plan accordingly and the provider strengthens a foundation of trust.

We’ve been vocal about the importance of building an enterprise grade cloud service since we launched Okta – after all, that’s what identity and access management is all about (our new CSO David Baker recently posted on this very topic) – so it was great to see some of the other cloud leaders talk about the importance of establishing trust for their businesses as well.

Fun at the OK(ta) Corral

The entire week was not only sessions and booths, we also got the chance to talk identity over a tequila tasting at our event, “Okta: The OK Corral” which was a big hit. In fact, we had other vendors coming over to our room to try and poach attendees!

While barbequing, eating ribs and watching friends bring outlaws to justice on our retro video games (Deer Hunter and Quick Draw), we got to engage with a lot of forward-thinking enterprise IT people about the identity challenges they face today and how Okta can help.

As always, such a great event put on by Gartner. Already looking forward to Catalyst 2013!