It wasn’t long ago, maybe 10 years ago, when Jamcracker leveraged the outsourced model and convinced companies to switch to their service for a one-stop-shopping experience. Most, or all your apps, would be centrally managed connecting to 3rd party vendors. The word “outsource” was the mot du jour back then during the first dot com bubble.
Outsourced applications ranged from Outlook and Exchange email to dialup services using iPass. No need for a $85,000 per year Senior Exchange guru to manage your on premise server. Pay someone else half that amount.
The downside back then was the applications were thick clients. Software had to be installed on each and every PC and laptop. You still needed an IT staff with a good pair of running shoes.
The key for this model was still using Microsoft Active Directory. You had to centralize your accounts for security. Again the headache would be managing all the different user the accounts… and passwords!
I like the one-stop-shopping approach, especially having not to memorize several passwords with complex rules and 90 day forced changes. You can’t (and should not) reuse old passwords!
Several companies are adopting cloud based services, but as a whole? Today, some cloud consulting companies like Appirio boasts that they do not own a single server. They have to practice what they preach!
You could potentially try to build your own interface using PingIdentity and their single sign on services. But that would take senior IT staff and application developers.
So it make no surprise that the co-founder of this new company was from the “no software” company.
Okta, with its Okta Application Network, is based in San Francisco and led by CEO and co-founder Todd McKinnon, former head of engineering at Salesforce.com. Okta is initially focusing on companies with up to around 1,000 employees and the service costs $12 USD per user per month.
Imagine using Google Apps for your Gmail, Docs and Spreadsheets, Salesforce for your CRM, and Dropbox or Box.net for your data storage. As well, you have a choice of web conferencing or desktop sharing tools, consolidated travel itineraries, and up to date project management tools.
IT services have changed. If a user or group doesn’t get permission from IT for a service (let’s say several hundred gigabytes of data for video storage), then they will just turn around, whip out their credit card to a 3rd party service, and finally expensing the bill unbeknownst to the IT department.
The goal for the IT admin is to identify the needs and avoid paying for double subscriptions. By reporting, you can centrally analyze usage across all applications and subscriptions. There is also the potential danger of orphaned “islands of data” sitting on someone else’s cloud.
For Okta to be successful, or any other centrally managed system, the goal is for the end user experience to have the interface behave the same way as on-premise applications. One login, and get to work! (or surf Facebook all day)