Fighting SaaS Fires with Fire

Michael Vizard

More than a few IT organizations have been struggling with managing the usage of software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications inside their organizations. It's not necessarily that they are against the use of SaaS, it's just that the organizations need to know who is paying to access what application to make sure they aren't paying for redundant application services.

At the same time, however, IT needs to get out of the way. End users need to have ready access to tools and applications that they can invoke without waiting for IT to grant them permission.

Okta, a provider of a service that is used to centrally manage SaaS applications, has come up with an approach to solving both problems by providing users with self-service access to a set of SaaS applications that have been approved for use by the IT organization. Rather than waiting for IT to grant permission, Okta has added a self-service option to the Okta Application Network service that gives IT organizations access to a single sign-on capability for managing identities via the cloud.


According to Okta CEO Todd McKinnon, the Okta service has been integrated with over 1,200 SaaS applications. The next step is to start integrating the service with more applications running on premise to give customers a holistic approach to managing application access both inside and outside the cloud.

While business executives tend to have a lot of enthusiasm for all-things SaaS, many of them are starting to realize that there needs to be some discipline in terms of knowing who has access to what, particularly in an age where access control is the very definition of compliance.

The challenge that many IT organizations now face, however, is that the number of SaaS applications their organization is using has already proliferated beyond their control. Rather than building something from the ground up to address that issue, Okta is making the case for essentially using a SaaS to bring the SaaS chaos back under control. In other words, it's time IT organizations start using SaaS fire to fight SaaS fires.

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