Securing Your Home and Your Data: National Gypsum Meets Its Cloud-Software Counterpart

For more than 100 years, National Gypsum has built its brand around dependability and security -- they don’t call one of their best-selling products Gold Bond for nothing. But with the advent of cloud computing, the Charlotte-based company also needed to manage their applications safely and securely. We sat down with Michael Brannon, National Gypsum’s director of infrastructure & security, to find out why he could trust Okta’s identity management solution for his rough and tough manufacturing company.

So how does a company that produces physical materials end up in the cloud?

There’s nothing about National Gypsum that’s sexy and cloud-like. But at the same time, people within National Gypsum’s business – primarily sales and marketing people – wanted to move us to the cloud. We [the IT department] don’t want to be the area that says no to things the business wants to do.

How do you securely become the “department of yes”?

You can easily – as a security department trying to guard against bad security – become the “department of no.” When you’re in the department of no, a lot of your business users will bypass you and do things that make the company far less secure.

We know these [cloud] services are available, so we need to provision them in a secure way. Part of our vision is to find good partners that extend secure infrastructure-type things into services that the business wants to use.

So when did you first move to the cloud?

Our business found [Okta partner] Box and really liked it. But one of the real worries we had was whether the content was secure enough – our users might pick a bad password that anyone could guess, or one they’ve reused in 18 different places.

And how did Okta solve that problem?

Okta takes all of that off the table. There are no password resets. There are no worries on the part of the security team that employees have chosen a bad password. And, we can now provision access to both mobile devices and cloud apps through Okta by moving people into AD groups, which is easy for our internal team to manage. As we looked at some of those really complicated solutions, Okta was really simple to deploy and very integrated to what we do with Active Directory. It was a no-brainer to pursue it.

What’s the best part about working with Okta?With the cloud initiative, we’ve gotten to the point where people will view us as a partner helping them get their jobs done, and doing it in a way that removes hassle. And that’s win-win – for both the security guys and the rest of the business. We don’t have a lot of staff to make magic cloud things happen, so we need to find great partners and use the cloud productively. Box has been a great one for us, as has Okta. The two of them together? It’s like magic.

Want to see the magic happen in Michael’s interview? Watch the video below, or head to the customer testimonial here.