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Okta, Terraform & Vault: 3 Ways They Improve Identity and Access

Migrating to the cloud opens up many opportunities to not only speed up development, but reduce the risks that come with manually handling identity and access management (IAM) for infrastructure provisioning.  

Traditionally, managing workplace identities across our Human Capital Management (HCM) solutions and IT systems has been prone to human error. Provisioning new infrastructure and developing new apps in the cloud not only requires your developers and operations to assign privileged credentials, but the right roles, permissions and authentication. Without the right practices to ensure consistent IAM and secure tools to guarantee proper access, businesses often face potential inefficiencies, data breaches, or credential misuse in their provisioning. 

However, managing identity life-cycles of both HR and IT systems seamlessly - while improving provisioning efficiency - is easier said than done. Understandably, identity is hard to overhaul. 

This is where modern solutions like Okta and HashiCorp’s Terraform come in, improving our ability to provide automated, efficient and secure IAM for our infrastructure provisioning efforts. 


How Okta Improves Identity and Access Management (IAM) 

Before cloud-based identity management systems like Okta, HR and IT have historically had to synchronise user data with an on-premises Active Directory, and then to enterprise applications, as a manual workflow. That includes management of authentication, access and permissions. 

Why is this a problem?  

A common pain-point for many organisations when onboarding and offboarding can be when staff details need changing or they leave the business. If existing IAM practices don’t ensure changes are done in a timely and consistent manner, this leads to unintentional inconsistencies, human error and potential breaches of sensitive data or credentials.

Cloud-based solutions like Okta eliminate these risks and inefficiencies of traditional IAM. 

Okta automatically integrates user data and identities into one system, keeping everything in sync, and allows for multiple user credentials to be consolidated into one consistent identity. 

With Advanced Server Access (ASA), devices and users can independently be authenticated and authorised with short-term credentials that must authorise against role-based access controls for tighter control over resource permissions.  

And not only does Okta’s automation and consolidation of IAM processes into one tool help with better controlling the identity layer, but it can also be used for infrastructure management; you can provision new groups, users and entitlements into your workloads in a similarly easy way that you provision users into cloud-based apps and resources.  

This is where integration with HashiCorp Terraform, a powerful Infrastructure as Code (IaC) tool, perfectly aligns with and extends Okta’s significant identity and access management benefits. 


Okta & HashiCorp Terraform: Top IAM and Infrastructure Benefits 

Imagine your business is using a combination of AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform.  

Your developers and operators not only need to be able to manage all your infrastructure across these very different platforms and their unique configurations in a consistent manner, but they also need to make development, testing, and provisioning of infrastructure fast and secure. 

Unless your team is very well-versed in all the idiosyncrasies of every cloud platform, it’s very hard (and costly) to standardise the provisioning process across such diverse environments. 

DevOps also needs to ensure the right people (identity) have the right credentials (access) to these varied instances. Keeping track of roles, groups and users manually is a big pain-point. 

Thankfully, combining HashiCorp Terraform with Okta’s Workforce Identity suite relieves this. 

HashiCorp’s Terraform is an open source Infrastructure as Code solution that has been helping developers provision and re-provision infrastructure faster and easier while ensuring security. 

IaC works across cloud and on-premises environments and enables DevOps to write, define, and provision infrastructure using simple code. These easily configurable files leverage reliable automation and repeatable code to provision any required infrastructure. IaC helps your team standardise the provisioning process, makes any changes easier to implement and provides a consistent, automated workflow versus a manual workflow that is prone to human error. 

How Hashicorp Terraform works

By combining Okta with Terraform and its Infrastructure as Code (IaC) benefits, your DevOps can unlock significant efficiency and cost savings through automation of both provisioning and identity layers.  

We’ve gone over the inner workings and benefits of Terraform IaC elsewhere, but in short, through IaC automated workflows, you can install an Okta ASA server agent script on each server that can be activated to handle local configuration automatically.  

This means all your groups, users and their permissions - which are stored in Okta - are pulled via API to create the accounts locally, without having to manually generate, assign and provide credentials, for added efficiency across the business - without compromising on security. 


Okta & HashiCorp Vault: Top Security Benefits 

In addition to Terraform, Okta has great integrations with another HashiCorp solution: Vault. 

HashiCorp’s Vault enables IT to provide seamless access to credentials, to the right users, while taking advantage of Okta’s authentication workflow. This gives DevOps easier access to privileged credentials and other sensitive data stored in Vault, without risk of manual sharing. 

All of these credentials and data are encrypted and stored in Vault, providing the highest level of protection that eliminates the risk of any external threats or data breaches from occurring. 

Vault and Terraform also work together with Okta to better enable the latter’s Infrastructure as Code benefits. Used together, admins and security can leverage Vault’s contextual access capabilities together with Terraform’s automation of provisioning and Okta’s MFA and SSO to ensure infrastructure workflows are agile, simplified and secure. 

Okta and HashiCorp: How They Improve Identity and Access Management Together 

Gaining better efficiency and security from our identity and access management and infrastructure management ultimately demands automation, scalability and modern tooling.  

It also requires a fundamental shift in the way you view, manage and secure user identity.  Download our free whitepaper on 3 reasons you need a modern identity platform.

3 Reasons You Need A Modern Identity Platform


Tags: Terraform, Okta, Infrastructure as Code, Hashicorp, Vault, Identity