Salesforce.com Identity tackles only the 'really easy' stuff, Okta CEO says

Okta's cloud identity management platform is way ahead of Salesforce.com, according to CEO Todd McKinnon

You might think Okta CEO Todd McKinnon would be concerned by the fact that Salesforce.com just launched a competing cloud identity management service, but if McKinnon indeed is, he's good at hiding it.

"It looks like they spent a year building all the stuff that's really easy to build [in identity management]," McKinnon said in an interview before the start of his company's first user conference this week in San Francisco. "It's all the stuff we had built in the first six months of our company."

Salesforce.com Identity has a paucity of pre-built integrations to cloud applications, compared to Okta's more than 3,000, McKinnon added. It also decided to embed software from Forgerock for the Identity Connect component of Identity, which allows for connections to Microsoft Active Directory systems.

"They just don't have their own people working on it," said McKinnon, who headed engineering at Salesforce.com until 2009. While "it's always concerning when a big competitor comes into your market," until Salesforce.com spends more time on its product Okta has little to fear, he added.

Okta is using this week's conference to launch a new version of its platform, which allows companies that use multiple cloud applications to provide employees with a centralized way to sign in and out of all the services.

Until now, user profile data stored in Okta had a limited set of attributes. Okta has added the ability to punch in an unlimited number of attributes and fields, allowing for detailed user types and permissions spanning customers, partners and employees, McKinnon said. "It really helps cover a lot more scenarios of integration."

To date, Okta has built integrations to third-party applications on its own, McKinnon said. But with the updated platform, partners and customers will gain access to tooling that lets them build integrations themselves. This will be a big help to customers that use a great deal of esoteric applications specific to their businesses, McKinnon said.

Okta will evaluate and approve each integration created by third parties, then continuously monitor them to be sure they work

In addition, Okta has created what it calls the On-Premises Provisioning Agent. "Before this, we had integration to Active Directory and LDAP," McKinnon said. "But if you wanted to connect with say SAP or Oracle on-premises, we didn't have that capability. Now we do."

Other new features include a native Android version of Okta's mobile application, which joins an existing one for iOS devices.

Chris Kanaracus covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Chris' email address is Chris_Kanaracus@idg.com

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