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Okta vs Azure Active Directory

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a group of policies, applications, and tools that maintain and define who has access to what services and resources in the enterprise. Okta and Azure AD are two different and popular IAM platforms that users can use to protect their information from unauthorised access. This blog discusses critical differences between Okta and Azure AD.

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Every day, employees sign in to an increasing number of website and application accounts to perform their jobs, such as customer relationship management (CRM), project management, marketing, communications, and sales. As they do on personal devices and public networks, it creates a possible entry point for hackers. Today, almost 95% of cybersecurity attacks result from human faults.

This all makes IAM platforms essential to any business, and two famous platforms in that category are Okta and Microsoft Azure Active Directory. Okta is a drop-in, secure, and customisable solution for adding authorisation and authentication services to our applications. Azure Active Directory is a cloud-oriented Identity and Access Management(IAM) service. It helps your employees access internal and external resources like Microsoft 365, Azure portal, and apps on your enterprise intranet network. In this Okta vs Azure AD blog, you will learn different features and working approaches of Okta and Azure AD.

Okta vs Azure AD - Table Of Contents

What is Okta?

Okta is an Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) platform that allows you to access all other (business) products with a single login. Okta allows you to access your applications from any computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. Okta is a scalable, safe, and simple authentication and authorisation system.

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What is Azure Active Directory?

Microsoft's Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) is an enterprise-grade IAM software with integrated security that includes SSO, MFA, and restricted access to protect against cybersecurity threats. Many of Okta's features and capabilities appear to be mirrored in Microsoft Azure Active Directory.

While Azure Active Directory has similar SSO features, it is better suited for enterprise environments where a central IT department must govern access to diverse networks or company assets. For development environments, Azure Active Directory is ideal. It is a Windows-centric Microsoft offering, but it is not nearly platform-independent. Depending on your current infrastructure, this could be a gain or disadvantage.

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Okta vs Azure Active Directory

Contextual access for multi-factor authentication

Both Okta and Azure Active Directory support contextual and situational multi-factor authorisation. This enables alternative settings to be applied once handsets, IP addresses, and perhaps other conditions are matched during login, and then a multi-factor needed login is triggered.

This is a constructed feature of Okta. This functionality is only accessible in Azure Active Directory's pricing tier. Thus it isn't a default choice. 
Both Okta and Azure Active Directory provide this level of customisation, with the option to define multiple authorisation values for various business and application levels.

User self-service portal

Users can manage their logins with Okta and Azure Active Directory. The Microsoft Windows Azure site or the Windows My Apps portal can be used to access the Azure Active Directory. 
Azure Active Directory is tightly integrated with the Microsoft ecosystem, and users are presumed to be familiar with it.

The user portal at Okta is self-contained and distinct from other corporate services. 
According to many clients, it's also more adaptable and user-friendly than Azure Active Directory. The Okta version is more versatile in this aspect, especially for individuals unfamiliar with the Microsoft Azure ecosystem.

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Security reports

Any IAM solution should include security reports. Both Okta and Azure Active Directory provide extensive security reports. 
Azure Active Directory, like other systems, only offers them as part of a premium subscription. Essential products give you unsafe sign-in reports and no option to look deeper. 
Although these tools are similar, you'll require the enhanced version of Azure Active Directory reporting if you're hosting a Security Operations Center.

Support packages

Depending on your current architecture, installing Okta or Azure Active Directory can be very different. If your company isn't already significantly invested in Azure, you'll almost probably need a dedicated service plan in addition to Azure Active Directory to get everything up and to operate.

On the other hand, most enterprises may implement Okta without requiring any more support beyond what is provided by default. This might significantly differ depending on its size and the IT staff's capabilities.

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Is Okta or Azure Active Directory the Better Choice For You?

Both Okta and Azure Active Directory are capable and reliable IAM technologies for SSO and user access management. Your requirements and current network architecture largely determine the distinction.

  • Okta is perhaps the most excellent option for enterprises searching for a customised and straightforward SSO application to manage their team's web logins. It's a good choice because of its platform independence, built-in integrations, and ease of usage.
  • Despite being the easiest of the two to set up, it has advanced capabilities such as contextual multi-factor authorisations and detailed security reports. You have a fantastic product when you combine this with the pricing structure.
  • On the other hand, Azure Active Directory is designed for businesses already committed to Microsoft and Azure. 
  • When it comes to demands other than web login management, such as sophisticated developer environments requiring access to several services and assets, Azure Active Directory goes above and beyond Okta. Azure
  • Active Directory is far superior in this regard, as it provides more granular access control.

Conclusion

In this article, we've thoroughly explored the comparison between Okta and Azure AD, and we hope it's helped you better understand both of them. Both have benefits and drawbacks, and how they are used is determined by the demands of the business.

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Last updated: 19 August 2022
About Author
SaiKumar Kalla

Kalla Saikumar is a technology expert and is currently working as a content associate at MindMajix. Write articles on multiple platforms such as ServiceNow, Business Analysis, Performance Testing, Mulesoft, Oracle Exadata, Azure, and other courses. And you can join him on LinkedIn.