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National Geographic: Investigating Digital Worlds with Okta

Phil Heyneker

From studying the mighty Inca to researching emperor penguins, National Geographic’s team of journalists, researchers and photographers have traveled the world to document the beauty and eccentricities of our planet. A 125-year-old company with employees all over the globe, National Geographic needed an identity solution that went beyond traditional IT — and that worked in an office and on the road.

Dan Backer, director of infrastructure systems at National Geographic, spoke earlier this month at Oktane13 about how Okta helps his team secure the company’s diverse workforce. We jumped at the chance to sit down with Dan to learn more about how National Geographic uses Okta to traverse the technological domain.

How was IT set up at National Geographic initially?

 

Before we had Okta, we had a unique username and password for virtually every siloed application, unless they happened to integrate with Active Directory. Most Mac users, who are typically not bound to an AD domain, are islands unto themselves. So, employees are less likely to integrate or utilize enterprise applications that we provide to them. And they are typically going to go off and do a rogue IT scenario because it’s easier for them to adopt it, rather than jump through the hoops of typical IT.

So, why Okta?

The big thing that attracted us to Okta — and the reason why we love the Okta solution — is that it provides us with a flexible method of consolidating applications both in the cloud and on-premises to our environment. Okta centralizes our applications in a single point of identity management, and it provides that to both endpoints outside the firewall, to mobile, as well as to traditional office workers on the PC.

How did your IT staff and employees react to the change?

Now we actually have folks in the business unit coming to us to ask us to integrate some of the applications that came out of ‘rogue IT’ into our front door, which is basically what Okta is for us. We’re able to weed out some of those little pieces of IT that most traditional IT companies are very fearful of, and we’re able to embrace those and allow them to be used securely in terms of our corporate standards.

Now that National Geographic has explored the technological domain with Okta, we’re eager to see where National Geographic takes Okta next. To hear our full interview with Dan, watch National Geographic’s customer testimonial video below or on our web site.