Okta + Unicon: Enhancing Success and Security for Campus Communities

Many of today’s colleges and universities still rely on costly, outdated legacy systems to provide students, staff, and alumni with access to their resources—severely impacting user experience as a result. However, in the same spirit of continuous improvement these schools use to educate their students, that trend is shifting: 62% of education apps are expected to run in the cloud by 2021. As they deploy these applications, colleges and universities need to be able to protect the identities of their students, faculty, and partners, while offering seamless login experiences.


Having embedded identity and access management across cloud-based and on-premises applications enables the education sector to rise to these challenges. This is why we’re pleased to partner with Unicon on the Federation Gateway for Okta—a best-in-class solution that provides campus communities with secure, seamless access to the resources they need through trusted identity federations.

What is Unicon’s Federation Gateway?

Unicon is committed to enhancing teaching and learning through technology, helping educational institutions to adapt in all aspects of their online presence. They do this through designing, building, and supporting industry-leading educational technology.

Campus networks typically use a sprawl of online resources, software solutions, and other digital applications to function. Users access some of these resources through an identity federation system, such as InCommon, eduGAIN, and the Canadian Access Federation (CAF), which often require support from on-prem technologies. However, some common cloud-powered applications like Box and Office 365 run outside of a federation, and can’t be accessed the same way. With varying requirements across hundreds of applications, managing access across various campus networks is a challenge.

Unicon developed the Federation Gateway so that all Okta higher education customers can easily connect with trusted identity federations, without having to manage complex IT environments. The Federation Gateway is cloud-hosted, automating the exchange of metadata between the customer’s identity provider and service provider. In other words: there’s no need to manually set up integrations, and Okta can quickly become a federation partner.

The Federation Gateway is flexibly designed to support multiple, customizable identity release options. Users can also enjoy the benefits of the Okta Identity Cloud, including the convenience of Single Sign-On (SSO) and the added security provided by Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication (Adaptive MFA). This goes for all applications, regardless of time, location, or device.

How can education institutions benefit?

With the Federation Gateway, users can sign in to Okta and quickly access the apps they need, both inside and outside of each federation. This provides users with a much simpler login process, which is streamlined further with SSO and self-service password resets, and secured with Adaptive MFA.

Part of the nature of campus populations is that they are constantly in flux. This means that there are always new users that require different access permissions. Institutions that use the Okta Identity Cloud can securely authenticate students, alumni, or staff members that need to access a supported third-party resource. If the school’s access policies permit the request, the Unicon Federation Gateway allows the user to access the apps and resources they need.

Stepping into the future

Okta’s vision is to enable every organization to seamlessly and securely use any technology. With Unicon’s Federation Gateway, we can better provide our higher education customers with the secure access they need to provide a superior user experience and create a successful environment for students and staff. Education institutions can use the Okta Identity Cloud and Unicon’s Federation Gateway to:

  • Give students, alumni, and staff easy and secure access to educational and campus-related apps, tools, and resources
  • Better manage identity and access management controls, create smoother onboarding processes, and prepare for changing campus populations
  • Become less dependent on on-premises infrastructure and take advantage of cloud efficiencies

Education is an important industry to us at Okta, and we’re committed to helping educational institutions become more efficient and secure. Click here to find out what our product and federation integrations can do for you.