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Ex-Salesforce.com Executive Offers Cloud Security
Ex-Salesforce.com Executive Offers Cloud Security

By Jennifer LeClaire
January 28, 2011 2:29PM

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Security for cloud applications is being offered by Okta, which is led by former Salesforce.com executive Tod McKinnon. With Okta, no professional services are needed to secure cloud services and allow employees access, McKinnon said. An analyst said Okta's approach is application-centric, allowing cloud deployment a little at a time.
 


Led by CEO Tod McKinnon -- the vice president of engineering at Salesforce.com from 2003 to 2009 -- Okta is moving into the on-demand identity and access-management space. The goal is to accelerate enterprise adoption of cloud and web-based apps.

Okta is trying to address a pain point in the rise of software as a service. SaaS has made it easy for companies to adopt business-critical applications, but has also introduced a new set of challenges for both IT and end users. Okta promises to centrally secure and control access to applications, provide end users single sign-on for all web apps, and give businesses insights to maximize ROI while minimizing risk.

"Enterprises everywhere are realizing the inherent benefits of running their core IT services in the cloud," McKinnon said. "But this shift fundamentally requires them to rethink their IT infrastructure and how their employees access it. Okta is the only enterprise-class, on-demand service purpose built to help customers secure and manage their entire cloud-services network and the people who need access to it, with no professional services required."

Reducing Costs, Improving Security

With Okta, IT can integrate cloud applications with existing directory services, controlling access across applications, provisioning and de-provisioning employees, and analyzing usage across all applications. For end users, Okta provides single sign-on across all applications. Analysts and enterprises are both bullish on the concept.

"As businesses shift more critical applications to the cloud, they are challenged to maintain the same degree of control that they have with their on-premise applications," said Daryl Plummer, managing vice president at Gartner. "Cloud-services brokers focusing on identity and access management who can secure and integrate multiple cloud services will facilitate more secure, cross-enterprise adoption of cloud-based services -- and that will convince a lot of enterprises to buy."

Early Okta customers include Pandora, LiveOps, Enterasys, FusionStorm and AMAG Pharmaceuticals. With Okta they have increased user productivity, reduced administrative costs by up to 85 percent, and improved security associated with application access.

"Okta helped us reduce costs, improve security, and accelerate cloud-applications adoption," said Ben Doyle, director of IT for Enterasys. "We now have one active directory integration for all of our cloud applications, users have one-click access to their web-based apps, and IT has centralized control of user access with a high degree of automation."

Application-Centric Approach

Charles King, principal analyst at Pund-IT, said Okta is taking an application-centric, rather than security-centric, approach to the challenge.

"There are certainly businesses out there that need a greater degree of and more complete integration of security across their entire organization," King said, "but for many companies, having single sign-on capabilities tied to the applications they are either using internally or that they are planning to use in the cloud is probably going to be a very effective and cost-effective way of helping companies better secure their organizations."

King said we are at that stage in the cloud where data and apps can transparently work across applications that are either housed within a corporate data center or within a service provider's hosting infrastructure and require a significant degree of security.

"Okta offers an alternative to the all-or-nothing approach to the cloud that some people are talking about," King said. "That's the way that many companies are going to be handling their cloud deployment anyway, application by application."
 

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Bill:

Posted: 2011-03-01 @ 11:22pm PT
It seems like a lot of Ex-salesforce folks are moving in to the cloud security space. CipherCloud has at least one.



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