As more IT organizations begin to shift their identity management infrastructure to the cloud, the competition for SaaS identity management solutions is heating up. In the web application single sign-on, also known as SSO, landscape, it is often Azure® Active Directory® vs Okta®. In fact, Microsoft and Okta have a little bit of history with each other with some strong words and accusations going back and forth over the years.
While they may be considered competitors where they overlap in SSO, they diverge down different paths beyond these similarities. After the head-to-head competition in web application single sign-on, it is similar to comparing a hammer and a screwdriver. They are separate tools that were designed to serve different needs for IT admins. Today, we are going to compare Azure AD vs Okta and explore where their competition lies.
Azure AD: Think Active Directory Partner, Not Replacement
Many IT organizations are confused by the similar names and believe that Azure Active Directory is the cloud-based directory services replacement for Active Directory, but this is not the case. Active Directory will still be hosted on-prem, while Azure AD is designed to be the cloud-based counterpart for Azure infrastructure in the cloud. This is demonstrated by the fact that Azure AD doesn’t have the capability to authenticate users to on-prem or remote systems including Windows® (sans Windows 10), Mac® and Linux® machines, cloud infrastructure hosted at AWS® or GCP™ (Google Cloud Platform), Google Apps (now called G Suite™), and anything else that operates outside of the Microsoft Azure ecosystem.
The primary role for Azure AD is to be the user authentication infrastructure for Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing service that competes with AWS and GCP. It is highly tailored for Windows systems and Windows-based infrastructures, with Microsoft’s goal to shift their customer’s infrastructure from on-prem into their data center. This means that, while Azure Active Directory may be a significant stride towards a cloud-based directory, it still ties organizations to Microsoft. As a result, most organizations use an on-prem Active Directory instance to (Read more...)