Complex Deployments Made Simple With Okta Professional Services
There are a number of deployment challenges that might drive an organization to enlist Okta’s Professional Services team, including short timelines, complex environments, or a lack of specialized expertise. With a range of solutions available, including customized options (plus standardized methods, processes, and tools developed over the course of thousands of deployments) Professional Services is well equipped to help organizations of all types and sizes achieve their most ambitious identity challenges.
Cengage, for example, has been publishing textbooks for over a century, and recently the company began offering an extensive list of digital education solutions to educators all over the world. Cengage knew maintaining customer trust throughout the modernization process was critical, so it engaged Okta Professional Services to help maintain high levels of security, reliability, and productivity.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), by contrast, has always been a technology company, and it’s never strayed from the cutting edge. By 2022, HPE plans to deliver everything-as-a-service (XaaS), which will allow all customers to access their favorite HPE products on the cloud—without bearing the costs of servers or maintenance. As a part of this initiative, the company built a platform for its HPE GreenLake Cloud Services arm. After purchasing a range of Okta Customer Identity products, the company hired Professional Services to help with the complex deployment process.
To learn more about Cengage and Hewlett Packard’s experiences with Okta Professional Services, we spoke with George Moore, Chief Technology Officer, and Michael Gossett, Technology Product Manager, from Cengage, along with Satish Iyer, former Vice-President of Products, and Travis Tripp, Technologist and Architect, from HPE GreenLake
What identity challenges led you to Okta?
Gossett: Cengage’s transition to digital was central to improving our learning outcomes and helping reduce the cost of learning materials. But the launch of Cengage Unlimited exposed some challenges for us and our users in the identity space. We wanted to create a better customer experience from the very first touchpoint into our ecosystem, which started with our user registration.
Iyer: Having the ability to federate across a multitude of services is key for us. Our customer environment is complex, so it was important for us to choose a vendor that could seamlessly federate and marshal identities across all these entities. It’s also of utmost importance to us that we protect our customers, our partners, and our employees.
Okta Professional Services helped Cengage with an extremely complex implementation process. What was that like?
Moore: Working with the people at Okta was great. Our products are complex and our scaling requirements are unusually large, but the teams came together and gave us all confidence that we could do this. Everyone worked hard; we even set up war rooms to get the final push.
Okta has been on board from day one and is a real champion. It’s been great to see the two engineering teams work together and take on joint challenges. The Okta team helped us refactor some of our applications to be more efficient, and we worked with Okta on high-scaling issues and how we can work through these spikes.
Hewlett Packard Enterprise relied heavily on the expertise offered by Professional Services. Can you tell us more about that?
Tripp: Okta’s Professional Services team worked directly with us in implementing our initial architecture manually, then they provided development assistance with the automation.
It was really great. We brought them in and from the point of kickoff all the way to the end, we interacted with them every day. We came to count on them and we built a lot of rapport between the team members. It accelerated our knowledge as well, and helped us make decisions faster because we were able to leverage their experience. That was critical.
We had a complicated situation. We have people in basically every continent on Earth that we wanted to get trained, and we had differing timelines of when it would make sense to train them. The Professional Services team first identified that our R&D people needed to get some of that org-to-org training. We booked a custom one-day class for our R&D team so that they were all up to speed on the proper org-to-org federation.
How have you benefited from Professional Services overall?
Moore: When September hit and the massive rush of students came in, we had a seamless experience. We had teams, both Okta and Cengage, actively watching and monitoring as we hit those high watermarks. The implementation was amazingly straightforward.
Tripp: We had to move quickly. The hybrid and cloud industries are competitive and constantly innovating. Our team set an aggressive timeline of three months, and Okta was able to deliver.