In the era of digital transformation, every company is now a software company. As companies look for ways to make the transformation faster and more valuable for their customers, employees, and partners, some of that software is often the creation of outside parties, integrated with proprietary capabilities.
Widely dubbed, “the API economy,” this still-evolving approach is enabling enterprises to strengthen their digital offerings in ways that previously would have been out of reach.
But obviously when customers, employees, and partners need to be able to move seamlessly between multiple cloud-based applications, managing access, security, and creating simplicity is a must.
This critical task is the expertise of Okta, the leading provider of identity for the enterprise.
“Identity management is this new foundational capability in the digital economy,” says Okta CIO, Mark Settle, of this quickly expanding need, and his company’s pioneering role in the API economy. Since the company was founded in 2009, “Okta has created a whole new category.”
A key part of Okta’s ability to integrate, and connect people to technology is an elegant, single sign-on dashboard which simplifies the day-to-day for people using multiple applications.
Hector Aguilar, Okta’s CTO and SVP of Engineering explains, “I can connect once and then that basically gets me access to every single application that I need to use. I can do it from my mobile device, or my desktop device.”
The innovative company is trusted by an impressive, fast-growing list of enterprise customers, including Experian, 20th Century Fox, LinkedIn, Flex, News Corp, Dish Networks and Adobe.
Maintaining that trust is a highly complex matter, with no margin for error.
“We have a culture and engineering that revolves around the concept of always being on,” says Aguilar. “We're maniacal about monitoring our service. We're maniacal about solving issues even before customers notice.”
It’s also a task that Okta knew it couldn’t do alone.
AppDynamics is the application performance management solution that Okta chose to help them in their mission to keep customers delighted.
Speed, visibility — and the endorsement of their developers — were key in Okta’s decision to partner with AppDynamics.
“One of the things that was very surprising to me was that our developers started telling me, ‘Hey, with AppDynamics, we could actually find issues faster.’ That's really the killer feature — the fact that developers were able to find things faster. It was enough for us to justify using AppDynamics to monitor every single one of our servers,” said Jaikumar Bathija, Okta’s performance software architect.
“What came in extremely handy was that right after we made our decision, a month of training was given to us,” Bathija continued. “Our performance team was constantly sitting with a member of AppDynamics, helping us with dashboards, looking at key metrics. By the time all of the training was over, we did not need a single person from AppDynamics to come and tell us how to solve a certain problem.”
AppDynamics has also helped Okta deal with a previously unforeseen issue. As the integration and identity needs of enterprises have expanded, the flexibility of Okta’s platform has come into play — to the benefit of their customers who are creating new ways to use the solution. But it’s also created challenges.
“With the broad set of use cases that people are solving with our product, they can actually change things that could potentially break our service,” says Aguilar. “So we actually have to design for the unknown. Monitoring and staying on top of all of that — how our customers use our system — across our entire customer base is a big effort.”
But with the help of AppDynamics’ deep, proactive application performance monitoring, Okta has been able to allow their customers to adapt their technology to their needs.
“This adaption is good for companies, so we need to make sure that we are able to scale as it continues. AppDynamics has helped us deliver on that,” continues Bathija. “We would much rather monitor proactively, and let our customers use the product as efficiently, and however, they want.”
In this fast moving, sometimes unpredictable environment, not having AppDynamics is playfully described by Aguilar in perilous terms: “You can't afford not having the visibility that AppDynamics provides. If we don’t have AppDynamics, where we’re using it, it would be really like driving a car at 100 miles per hour with your eyes closed.”
AppDynamics is a valuable partner for Okta as its technology evolves to meet the growing needs of enterprises.
“We started connecting people and technology. But as the product has evolved, we are now connecting even applications with applications,” says Aguilar. “And once you're looking into application to application and API access management, it becomes incredibly important to have that specificity in the data, and that's where we believe AppDynamics can play a big role.”
Bathija agrees on Okta’s future with AppDynamics: “It’s helped our engineering team continue to innovate. As we continue to grow scale-wise and in terms of adapting newer technologies, we are looking for AppDynamics to also help us monitor the newer technologies that we are adapting.”
Aguilar concludes, “Our ability of always being on is mission critical. Because of that, the partnership with AppDynamics also becomes mission critical. And that's basically why we believe the partnership is very important, and that's why we’ve been very happy with the relationship.”