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Meet Our New Product Series: The Production Line

Pamela Armstead - Okta Security Blog
Pamela Armstead
Content Marketing Manager, Product

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At Okta, we are passionate about customer success and driving your organization forward with technology that makes you more successful, secure and productive. This year, in celebration of our 10th Anniversary, we reflected on the evolution of the product, and today, we’re launching a new monthly product series that dives into our desire to relentlessly innovate for you: we’re calling it The Production Line.

your custom url

We’ll explore new features, interesting ways to use old ones, and highlight a few tips and tricks you might not know. If you have a suggestion or feature you want us to dive into here, ping us—we’ll take those too! Where to do that? A place you'll want to spend some quality time: the Okta Community. We’ll dig deeper into the Community in future posts; for now, we’ll start the series with an older feature that continues to add value for customers and their end users: Custom URL Domains.

Kicked off as a beta offering in late 2017 and recently Generally Available (GA), Custom URL Domains was, and remains, the most popular beta ever launched within the Okta Beta program.

What are Custom URL Domains?

Custom URL Domains allows Okta admins to configure an Okta org with a custom domain for a branded, custom sign-in experience. For example, If AcmeCorp currently uses acme.okta.com to log into Okta, this feature allows them to alter their URL to any domain they control. So, the new login experience for all AcmeCorp employees could be employees.acme.com or helloacme.example.com.

Why did we build it?

At first glance, Custom URL Domain might be seen as a useful branding option, but that’s only half the story. When Joël Franusic, senior product marketing manager for Okta, managed the beta phase back in 2017, he was overwhelmed with the customer response. When the dust cleared, he saw that the customer need had two equal parts: branding and security.   

When Joël polled Okta customers to define the use cases for this feature, branding was a pent-up need, finally realized. For organizations that build apps and services for their customers, and using Okta’s Customer Identity products, brand is critical. We heard “I want to move Okta’s sign in URL to a domain under my control and have our design team build a brand-matching experience.” Okta needed to operate in the background without appearing in customer-facing URLs. Custom URL Domain is an additional feature that gives IT admins the option to white-label Okta.  

For customers protecting their organizations’ Workforce Identity, which includes employees, contractors, and partners, not only does Custom URL Domain help with branding, but it also can strengthen security, combating problems like phishing. One CTO trained their employees to avoid these malicious attacks by making the line clearer: “If it's not our corporate subdomain, it's not us. Don't interact with it.” We also heard: “I want to combat phishing attacks with a clean, white-labed URL for our people.” Custom URL Domains enables IT to align their URL and branding with their security model.

What is the customer reaction to the feature?

Now in EA, Custom URL Domain has given Okta customers both branding and security benefits. Here are a few of the comments we’ve captured:

– “It makes for an easier way to remember the URL.”

– “It’s making Okta URLs much more user friendly.”

– “Our larger customers don't want to whitelist DNS entries that they, as a company, do not control. This feature solves the problem.”

Can I access this feature today?

Yes! As of May 2019, this feature is GA. But please note that the Custom URL Domain feature will not work with browsers requiring the Okta browser plugin. Get instructions for implementation right here: Configure a custom URL domain.

This feature is one of many that capture the stories of customer engagement and innovation. The following posts will highlight new features, describe the best ways to access them, and most importantly, show how you can make Okta work smarter for you. Check out our Okta Product Roadmap to get a full view of our current beta, EA and GA features. 

Pamela Armstead Security Blog Author
Pamela Armstead
Content Marketing Manager, Product

Currently a Content Marketing Manager for Product at Okta, Pam switched from a career in instruction-based technical writing to the marketing space. After over 5 years in Okta Engineering, she is helping to manage the corporate blog and striving to write delightful, useful content.

Although Pam grew up in Southern California, she recognized at 9 years old that SF is the only city for her.  She enjoys staycations, cooking, and craft cocktails.

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