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Why Hewlett Packard Enterprise Tapped Okta for GreenLake

HPE's IT as-a-service turns to a third party to handle its access management.

As Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) ramped up its GreenLake edge-to-cloud, IT as-a-service for launch, it wanted a plan to handle identity and access management that would unburden its developer team. HPE briefly considered running such tasks inhouse, says Satish Iyer, vice president for products and strategy on hybrid cloud for GreenLake. The organization soon realized access management was not its forte and pouring resources into it would be time consuming and costly. With an intent to go to market fast, Iyer says, HPE chose Okta, which specializes in this area, for its cloud identity solution.

Turning to Okta’s proficiency to help it roll out GreenLake was part of HPE’s grander strategy. “We announced last year that everything we deliver, products and services, will be available to customers as-a-service,” he says. “That’s a massive transformation especially coming from a company known for infrastructure.”

Iyer says part of his role is to build capabilities around hybrid cloud. Since its debut, the GreenLake model continues to evolve the infrastructure strategy it offers to be part of a managed cloud experience, he says. “Customers like the experience they get in public cloud to accelerate some of their outcomes,” he says. For its part, Iyer says HPE looks at how it can help design, build, optimize and a manage on-prem infrastructure. Bringing in Okta’s solution was a means to greater efficiency and freeing up resources, he says. “I’d rather spend time building things, which I can do really well, and not worry about identity.”

For the type of service being offered, making GreenLake available to customers is not just about developing the software, Iyer says. “You need to literally maintain an identity infrastructure to support these things.” HPE possesses significant expertise, he says, yet supporting standards for identity and access management was not its primary focus. “It’s not that simple, especially for enterprises that are not in that business,” Iyer says.

HPE wanted identity management for GreenLake to run seamlessly through a third party, he says, allowing customers to sign in with credentials, gain access to the right set of services, and be authenticated without noticing a handoff. “At the end of the day, my customers should not know there’s even an identity system at the back end,” Iyer says. “That makes it the best experience you can offer.”

Okta’s identity management is imbedded in a multitude of customer-facing websites, products, and tools without calling attention to itself, says Joe Diamond, Okta’s vice president of product marketing. Doing the same for GreenLake was another iteration of its services. “Any time HPE is spinning up customers for its hybrid cloud solution, it’s actually Okta under the covers providing that identity and access management experience,” he says.

The Okta platform is API and SDK-enabled, Diamond says, which users such as HPE can build on top of. “HPE wanted to spin up dynamic identity instances for each tenant, for each customer,” he says. The platform allows for lifecycle management for automated provisioning and deprovisioning, multifactor authentication, and can run passwordless if an organization so desires.

The ever-escalating demands of security, privacy, usability, and scale can be crucial issues for organizations, Diamond says, which he says Okta platform can help address. “As organizations build new customer-facing products, they’re trying to ascertain whether or not they should be trying to build the identity capabilities,” he says. The other option is to offload such responsibilities to a vendor that focuses on developing such functionality.

Diamond sees more organizations in the midst of transformation looking to outside expertise for aid with noncore functions to free up resources for primary technical demands. “You probably wouldn’t try to build an SMS, multifactor authentication experience into a product,” he says. “You’re probably going to use Twilio or TeleSign.”

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