Okta discusses channel strategy in ANZ ahead of Oktane22 event – Security

Channel heads at identity giant Okta discussed channel plans, partnerships and last year’s Auth0 acquisition with CRN, ahead of their Oktane22 conference next week.

Oktane22 will be held in San Francisco from November 8-10 and will focus on the future of identity, security and risk and zero trust transformation. It will also involve a summit of partners.

Okta acquired identity provider Auth0 in March 2021 for US$6.5 billion to address a broader set of identity use cases.

In May this year Okta appointed Phil Goldie as the new ANZ boss following the retirement of Graham Sowden.

In 2020, security and South Australian specialist Insync Solutions was contracted to deploy Okta Identity Cloud to all public schools in South Australia to manage applications and educational resources for 280,000 employees and students throughout the state.

Okta’s Australian partners include Deloitte, Accenture, KPMG, as well as NextGen Distribution, which in 2020 was named Okta’s first ANZ distributor.

CRN spoke to two of the company’s channel heads for an update on their strategy and the identity market in Australia. We spoke to Senior Vice President of Global Partners and Alliances, Bill Hustad, who joined Okta 2 months ago, and ANZ Local Channel Manager, Todd Parsons, who joined Okta 6 months ago.

What is your local and global distribution strategy?

Parsons: From a local perspective, the main message right now is that we’re building a new team here locally. So myself and the team members have been here for about six months. If you look at identity today; there are two fundamental types of identity, there is the workforce and the customer. We’re working with our partner community to move the conversation from a traditional security perspective to start talking about experiences.

When you look at customers making big digital transformations, or how they’re designing different environments and improving experiences, it opens up the conversation to a broader set of partners.

We’re looking to build a partner community and ecosystem focused on how we can improve that experience. This can mean that we work with a multitude of different people who develop the applications, who help migrate these applications, who help migrate organizations to different clouds, who have hybrid models. It’s about looking at an ecosystem around that, they can’t necessarily sell something Okta, but contribute to that customer experience.

We’re looking at all the elements, including regional coverage, capacity, ability to deploy when and where we need it. We look at people who trade in the market, primarily around these actions and motions. So we have a lot of work to do here locally to execute that, and to get the community activated and motivated to work with us. But I think in general there’s a really good alignment around what we’re doing globally and locally.

MSPs are encouraged to evolve their security story, moving from a technical security approach to a more commercial one. Does Okta resonate with this?

Hustad: I’ve been here for two months, and what I’ve been focusing on is what’s our story internally and externally on why we’re teaming up? What is the value for our customers of our partnerships?

We’ve narrowed that down to what I call the six important motions. What are the things that we want our partners to do that we think creates a really good intimacy with our customers and creates a sort of win-win situation for all three?

The six things are; we want partners to find this business, we want partners to develop, especially around our new customer identity solution. We think this is really a clear opportunity to get closer to our developer persona within all of our partners, in which we help them in this process to better understand what they can do with identity, and that is somehow innately integrated into the apps they’re building for customers. The third is that we want them to be influential, they have amazing and lasting relationships with customers.

We want them to drive post-sales success and implement and drive adoption around identity and Okta, but also build those offerings and solutions.

And then I see some of them actually maturing into the fifth thing we want to see from partners, which is management, and I think that’s a really big opportunity when you think about the MSP MSSP market.

Finally, we want our partners to transact, but make it really easy for customers where it makes sense in the easiest way, and what works for them being more customer oriented than what works for the partner in a certain way.

What does acquiring Auth0 mean for Okta?

Hustad: We acquired Auth0 over a year ago.

The market logic for this acquisition was that we were on a collision course. They were really starting around customer intelligence and it was obvious that they needed to work towards work intelligence, and we were starting at work and working towards the customer. So it was really a great acquisition for the company. I think what you need to do over time is understand what the unique differences are in the market and how you go to market with them. Our Auth0 product is now Client Intelligence (CI). When we talked about CI, it meant the old Auth0 product, and all the new features and functions we added to it. And then you have the traditional workforce product, which is traditional Okta, the older Okta, plus the extended workforce, which is the Okta SIEM (Security Information Event Management) product. ).

The problems that each of these products solves in the market are unique, but they are both products that can solve problems for the same company.

Parsons: We’ve built our partner community traditionally with a focus on security around the workforce. And I think this acquisition now opens up a conversation not only to our existing partners, as they also plan to move into this space, but also to partners who are building these applications.

So lots of opportunities for new partners working in this space to come and work with us.

Are there any important upcoming chapters in the history of hybrid working that resellers and security partners should prepare for?

Parsons: The whole world of COVID has obviously pushed businesses to digitally transform to understand how they can digitally interact with customers. How do they come to market in different ways, with the different environment we all find ourselves in? I think that trend obviously lends itself well to what we’re doing, and I think the challenge is just the speed at which all of this is happening.

This is a real opportunity for us because we have to evolve our organization and our ecosystem to seize this opportunity.

We have evolved in a workforce identity security environment. So many of our strong partners today have built successful businesses by looking at the organizations security framework.

Has Okta seen a difference in solution adoption between small, medium, or large businesses?

Parsons: When you look at cloud-born digital natives, the conversation is obviously quite different than if we were going to talk to a large financial institution or a government.

We’re specifically building separate sales moves, or not separate, but targeted sales moves, targeted ecosystems around these types of games. It’s about building an organization that can work and meet these people where they want to be. So especially in the case of digital natives, AWS plays a huge role for us.

Tanya J. Hill