No one was ready for COVID-19—but some organizations were more prepared than others. Companies with cloud architecture are among those that have successfully weathered the storm, as it’s allowed them to be agile and respond to rapid changes in the macro environment.
To give you some insight on how we’ve responded to these unique circumstances, our “Okta-on-Okta Remote Work” webinar series maps the steps we took to grow our remote workforce from 30% to 100%—in a matter of days. In this first installment, we examine why hosting our IT architecture in the cloud was a crucial part of our success.
The benefits of cloud-based architecture
In 2009, when less than a third of organizations were leveraging cloud computing in any capacity, Okta was founded on a radical decision: there would be no on-premises servers or data centers. Instead, the company’s IT services would all be based in the cloud.
Today, the Okta IT team supports 2,500 employees and contractors, along with over 200 workforce apps that are critical to our operations. There are just 15 servers in AWS that provide basic infrastructural IT, and a small handful of VPNs hosting highly sensitive customer data. Other than that, Okta is uniquely untethered.
There are three benefits to this approach that have been particularly important as we address the impacts of COVID-19:
- We can support a large, distributed workforce and open operations around the world without concerns over security, network capacity, or the latency of apps.
- We can select best-of-breed solutions to address any of our problems, as we aren’t vendor-locked or trying to integrate technology within a vast, complex architecture.
- Our capital investment in technology is reduced overall, so we can spend more on value-add activities.
The choice to focus on cloud-first architecture helped us lay the foundations for rapid growth, on-demand agility, and dynamic provisioning, while also ensuring Okta is prepared to mitigate major disruptions.
Starting with business-critical applications
When companies adopt cloud solutions, their focus is often on optimizing productivity. In our recent Business @ Work (from Home) report, we observed the widespread adoption of applications like Slack, Zoom, Box, and the G-Suite that have become essential for communication and collaboration. But at Okta, the cloud is also our go-to source for business-critical apps like NetSuite, Salesforce, and Workday, and we access them all through our own Okta Identity Cloud.
In fact, we put so much faith in the cloud that we also build our products there, with developers leveraging apps such as GitHub, AWS, Splunk, and Jira. This allows us to innovate faster and reduce time to market by experimenting in quick sprints and creating working proofs-of-concept without having to stand up additional infrastructure.
Trusting our product for powerful security
Companies that resist migrating to the cloud often do so out of security concerns. They don’t trust a third-party cloud provider to maintain their highly sensitive or classified data—but the reality is that it’s much more difficult to keep a legacy system safe and up-to-date with the latest security standards.
That’s why we trust our own cloud solutions to defend our data. Okta Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication allows our teams to select from a variety of authentication mechanisms for frictionless yet protected logins. The solution is context-aware—from the device or network IP to the location of the login request, there are multiple ways to make sure users are who they say they are. Tools such as ThreatInsight automatically raise red flags if there are any suspicious login attempts. Policies can also be customized so that high-risk users with access to sensitive data have stricter login requirements.
Today, legacy architecture is a world away
The realization that COVID-19 would fundamentally transform the workforce came in less than a week. When “shelter in place” regulations were announced, we were fortunate to be able to tell our team members to head home and stay safe. Without physical IT architecture, there was no need to worry about the capacity of our servers, nor the cost of licensing. The freedom, agility, and flexibility of the cloud proved invaluable. For others, this shift has been hugely disruptive.
Now dynamic work is the new normal—and the pre-pandemic business world, with its bustling offices and on-prem systems, seems like a lifetime ago. As we all move into the future together, let’s talk about how we can help you modernize your IT.
For more insights on how we’re redefining our workforce, check out the following resources: