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From Startup to Enterprise: Identity Solutions for Your Customers

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Keith Casey
Solver of API Problems

Implementing an authentication solution to grant access to corporate applications—whether for customers or employees—is a top priority for CIOs today. There's a clear need for solid, reliable technology to deliver dependable access to the information people want to work with. It's important for customers to have an enjoyable experience signing in to use the products they've made purchases for.

CIOs considering identity solutions for their customers have two options: either continue to maintain their existing systems (such as LDAP or Active Directory) or expand into the cloud by seeking identity and access management as a service. The cloud offers a number of benefits but let’s look at both options.

Maintaining existing systems

Legacy identity solutions behind the corporate firewall are typically based on older authentication techniques and protocols. So it's no surprise that savvy end users want to make the most out of a company's product would get frustrated trying to fight their way into logging on through services provisioned by these outdated methods. In fact, the situation may be so chaotic that end users can't sign on at all, and give up, ceasing to be customers. Once you consider APIs, varying levels of access for employees versus customers versus partners, and user lifecycle, the complexity explodes.

A separate concern with using existing systems is that most companies cannot and should not have to be identity specialists themselves. Their IT teams should focus on what they do best and what is unique to their organization — not the complicated world of SAML, web authentication, federation, and other identity and access management technologies. And this isn’t factoring in the user support costs of password resets at the scale of thousands of users.

In short, it is typically not viable in today's world to provide identity solutions given the limitations and complexity of in-house infrastructure.

Expanding into the cloud

Subscribing to identity and access management as a service from the cloud allows organizations to provide themselves and their customers with the speed and agility expected from modern products. Adobe, for example, was able to quickly move all of its Creative Suite products to the cloud at a fraction of the cost. Now customers purchase a Creative Cloud membership easing the hassle of license roll-outs.

Organizations looking to simplify their authentication services must use the best-in-class identity solutions provider. They shouldn’t hesitate to try out proof-of-concept or pilots to determine which one is the right fit. That way the firm's various needs—security, user management, etc.— can be addressed by the provider on a trial basis (you can try Okta for Developers here).

Okta identity solutions

Okta solves problems for CIOs and their end users by bridging the existing systems into the cloud. For example, Okta can build upon current corporate identity systems - including Active Directory and LDAP - so that existing policies can be imported, converted, and improved. Further, our API allows you and your organization to embed functionality directly into the your applications to preserve branding guidelines and ensure a smooth, unified experience for your users. Learn how MGM Resorts did it. Finally, Okta provides identity federation, which is how Rotary International is able to offer a variety of services to over one million members, whether it’s to provide information on specific pages or grant access to internal e-Learning portals.

With Okta, an organization's IT team can secure their product and authenticate enterprise customers efficiently,at low cost, and in a fraction of the time their current systems allow.

casey keith headshot 150x150
Keith Casey
Solver of API Problems

Keith Casey currently serves on the Platform Team at Okta working on Identity and Authentication APIs. Previously, he served as an early Developer Evangelist at Twilio and before that worked on the Ultimate Geek Question. His underlying goal is to get good technology into the hands of good people to do great things. In his spare time, he helps build and support the Austin tech community, blogs at CaseySoftware.com and is fascinated by monkeys. He is also a co-author of “A Practical Approach to API Design” from Leanpub.