Okta’s 2019 Businesses @ Work report: Office 365 is big, but so are many Microsoft alternatives

Using IDaaS really does make choice easier.

We seem to be on a data kick lately (see Kyle’s posts on mobile threat statistics or my post on VDI performance). Today, another one of my favorite data sources is coming out: Okta’s 2019 Businesses @ Work report.

Okta is talking about the findings at a media event here in San Francisco this morning, along with folks from Zoom, Namely, KnowBe4, and Box. I’ll be at the event in person, so I’ll add an update later on if they talk about anything worth reporting.

About Okta’s data

This data is especially interesting for a few reasons: Okta is a big player in identity management as a service, and the report is based on metrics pulled from their customer base. Okta has about 5,600 customers, including companies doing both workforce and consumer-facing identity (many do both).

The data gives a good view into trends in cloud apps, with the caveat that the data only represents Okta customers—i.e., enterprise companies that have jumped on the cloud identity train.

So some cloud apps may be popular, but don’t rank as highly here because they’re might be used by smaller customers that stick with bundled, on-premises, or manual identity options. And on the flip side, if an app does show up in these rankings, then you know that it’s becoming popular in the enterprise.

Past versions of this report of illustrated significant trends, such as the Cambrian explosion of SAML around 2014 and 2015, so I’ve always been eager to check it out.

Regarding Okta itself, you might remember that last year they entered into a big partnership with VMware. Their user conference, Oktane, is coming up soon in San Francisco during the week of April 1, and we’ll be there reporting on it.

Interesting findings

In January, I wrote that conditional access / zero trust is the most important trend since mobile and cloud. One issue is that everybody has a different term for this, but the first thing I noticed from the report is the Okta is now on board with the term “zero trust.”

With little surprise, Office 365 comes in the number-one position, both in terms of the number of Okta customers that are using it, and in active unique users, which grew 55% year over year. That puts it at twice as many customer deployments and about three times more active unique users than G Suite, which grew 116% year over year.

Okta found that 76% of customers with Office 365 have one or more apps that duplicate the functionality of Microsoft apps—for example, Box, Slack, Zoom, Salesforce, AWS, etc. (Though it’s arguably 100%, since these customers are choosing Okta instead of the bundled Azure AD.) I think the key factor here is that identity standards and the cloud really do make it easier than it used to be to bring together best-of-breed products. Just because Microsoft enters a space doesn’t mean they’re going to totally dominate it.

In an interesting anecdote, a pre-release version of the report mentioned the idea that Okta can see things like spikes in login failures and changes in usage patterns, which can correlate to cloud app availability issues. Okta decided not to publish this data for the final report, but they may publish something about this in the future. I think this could also be interesting data to turn into a service.

Moving on to the fastest-growing apps, the top was KnowBe4, which does end user security awareness training. This gave me an article idea—clearly phishing is a crucial issue, but the question to debate here is “we shouldn’t be blaming the victim” versus “every bit of defense in depth helps.”

The fourth fastest-growing app was Jamf, which should hardly be a surprise considering the growth we reported on last week.

Zoom gets called for appearing both as ninth in the top apps overall and fifth in the fastest growing. Formerly Citrix-owned GoToMeeting was once one of the top apps, but has since fallen lower.

The number of Okta customers that use Active Directory is declining slightly, from 78% August 2015 to 70% in 2018.

Wrap up

Again, these are just the things that stood out to me and touch on vendors and ideas we cover often here at BrianMadden.com. There’s plenty of other data to look through, so head over to Okta for report.

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