Gatwick airport takes flight with Okta

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Michael Ibbitson: My name is Michael Ibbitson. I'm the Chief Information Officer of Gatwick airport which is the second largest airport in the UK. The CIO at Gatwick is asked to play a really important role in ensuring that the passenger experience is fantastic and innovative. IT can play a really big part in that. We get involved in things like bag drop systems. We use facial recognition and biometric systems for getting people through security faster. We allow all of our staff to bring things like bring your own device so they can get email alerts about what's going on in the airport so that we can manage disruption. There's just a really big array of things that we do and it's really exciting to get in front of the customer.

The company's split in two. We've got the one thousand, one thousand one hundred office workers and we've got about one thousand four hundred, five hundred people who work in the operation. They either work in security, on the airfield or in the terminals. For those one thousand five hundred people, they don't have access to a company day to day so they didn't have access to email. They didn't have access to internet. They had to go to one of two specially placed internet cafes to go and check that kind of thing and of course they wouldn't do it. They work on shift. They work difficult hours. It wasn't convenient to go to that location.

They were almost outside of the boundaries of what IT could provide to them. We wanted to improve our engagement with those employees. We wanted them to be able to get corporate message via email or via the intranet. Okta was a way of doing that for us because it gave us an opportunity to give them email, to give them access to Yammer to give the access to Box, to let them make IT requests through service like everybody else. It's been really powerful for us.

In the case of a European company working with a US based company, for us it's all about ensuring they have a safe harbor organisation but do they also meet the other obligations, such as SOX compliance, ISO 27000 and do their internal processes back up the certifications that they have. Okta allowed us to go in and see that they were doing that work, how they were doing it, and even almost performing those mini audits ourselves to make sure that that work was proceeding as we needed it to.

Our airport runs 24 by 7 which means that all of applications stack needs to run 24 by 7. I think that resilience is a big concern for us. Okta have been able to show us that, for the past four years or so, they've been running with absolute minimal downtime. I think 2013 was zero downtime. We have engaged all levels within our team and there's a lot of good personal relationships that are building. Okta is a very proactive organisation, very customer friendly, very much focused on the customer. I think that's really important.

As the second largest airport in the UK, Gatwick had two segments of employees who needed to access their network and emails – a group who worked in offices, and a group who worked in the airport itself. Okta helped the employees who work in the airport access their emails, alerts and apps with much more ease than before from their own mobile devices. Because Okta is US based, and Gatwick is in the UK, before Gatwick signed they needed to make sure Okta had Safe-Harbor Accredidation, SOPS compliance, ISO 27,000 and that their internal processes backed up the certifications they have.