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Okta vs Ping Identity: What's the difference?

When it comes to securing digital workplaces in 2020, Identity as a Service (IDaaS) and Software as a Service (SaaS) Access Management (AM) tools have become the norm for large enterprises.

User authentication security technologies like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign-On (SSO) are increasingly sought after by organisations looking to strengthen their users’ security and identity across the board and as they adopt cloud, and many IDaaS and SaaS AM vendors like Okta and Ping have evolved their offerings to make these options easily available.

Taking into account the continuous evolution in other advanced access methods like adaptive and contextual access, API protection and session management, safeguarding user identities and ensuring the right users are authenticated and authorised for the right assets has never been easier with new cost-friendly identity solutions.

However, it’s not just the maturation of these market leaders and their AM services that make IDaaS and SaaS AM solutions ideal for enterprise.

The fact is the cloud-based delivery model of identity and access management allows companies to get features delivered quicker and automatically and reduce infrastructure maintenance on account of it being fully managed.

This, in turn, gives enterprises increased agility, faster realisation for business value and lower costs.

So, what are the best IDaaS and SaaS-delivered Identity & Access Management tools today?

In this blog, we cover the high-level differences between two market leaders in the identity space: Okta and Ping. Okta is the highest-rated vendor in the IDaaS arena, while Ping is considered one of the best SaaS-delivered Access Management packages. Both are high up on the list for enterprises seeking to improve their identity & access management capabilities - this blog will help you understand which is the best option for your business.


Okta vs Ping Identity: Top Access Management Solutions Leaders 2019


So, why do Okta and Ping Identity dominate the conversation when it comes to identity and access management?

For starters, the 2019 Gartner Magic Quadrant for Access Management list both Okta and Ping Identity (and all of their different sub-services) as two of the five market leaders out today. It should be noted that Okta has a large lead over all competitors in this research.

The world’s leading research firm classifies the ideal identity and access management solution as one that “uses access control engines to provide centralised authentication, SSO, session management and authorisation enforcement for target applications in multiple use cases (B2E, B2B and B2C)”, while packaging both adaptive and contextual authentication technologies and including consistent support for the 3 major modern identity protocols: OAuth2, OIDC and SAML.

By 2022, 60% of all single sign-on (SSO) transactions are expected leverage these aforementioned modern identity protocols over proprietary approaches, up from 30% today. Both Okta and Ping Identity fulfil this criteria, and then some, end-to-end with flying colours.

In short, you can expect to get the following technical capabilities from modern IDaaS & SaaS AM solutions:

  • Authentication and authorisation of APIs (using OAuth, OpenID/OIDC)
  • Identity repository services and identity synchronisation to designated target systems
  • MFA, SAML and SSO to bolster user authentication
  • Self-service identity administration (profile management, self-service registration)
  • Standards-based identity federation
  • Streamlined password and permissions management


In addition, many other leading and reputable industry bodies such as Forrester Research have also recognised both services, listing Okta as a leader and Ping Identity as a Strong Performer in The Forrester Wave™: Identity as a Service (IDaaS) For Enterprise, Q2 2019 report, rated highly for their current offerings, strategy and market presence.


Okta vs Ping Identity: Overview

Both Okta and Ping Identity have earned many other well-deserved accolades and industry recognition over the years for enabling enterprises, mid-market and SMB to overhaul their identity to a level that acts as a strengthener for our security and a pillar to build upon our increasing capabilities and investments into our security efforts.

So, what about the each service's key differences?

Okta Identity Cloud Platform

Okta is a cloud-based identity service that helps large-scale businesses with identity lifecycle management, user access administration, application integration, user provisioning, meta-directory, and reporting - all in one platform.

As an enterprise-grade IDaaS solution, Okta has a number of base products and add-ons centered around bolstering workforce identity and customer identity with SSO, MFA, Lifecycle Management and User Management.  

Its core services, Okta Single Sign-On and Okta Adaptive Single Sign-On, are enhanced by additional products, like Adaptive Multi-Factor Authentication, API Access Management and Universal Directory, for different digital business scenarios and company sizes. Okta also has its own Access Gateway technology for on-premise integrations.

Okta's biggest advantage as the current market leader is as a platform-agnostic identity tool. It integrates all apps, regardless of the platform, with thousands of pre-built integrations, and streamlines the process of monitoring and control over user access rights, while proactively handling authentication, authorisation and user provisioning.

Okta also offers adaptive and contextual authentication, and a continuous authentication approach to identity in the enterprise. The service also boasts an in-built analytics tool called ThreatInsight, which consolidates all user data from all logins made with Okta products across the enterprise environment so admins can leverage in-depth threat intelligence directly on their IAM platform. While still evolving in capability, it is an incredibly useful in-built service.

Okta has overhauled identity authentication, protection and user credentials management for a number of cloud-first and hybrid organisations today, and has continuously evolved its offerings to meet new large-scale enterprise demand. With a range of service offerings available on the market, Okta is used by a considerable amount of of small and midsize (SMB) companies and for the past three years has heavily focused on and won larger enterprises.


Ping Identity Secure Access

Ping Identity is a Identity and Access Management solution delivered as Software as a Service (SaaS). It is primarily designed for hybrid IT environments, and offers several AM platforms for different business scenarios and capabilities: Ping Access and PingFederate, PingOne for Enterprise, and PingID + PingOne for Customers, the last of which acts as an API-based Identity as a Service for Multi-Factor Authentication directly into business applications.

The Ping platform allows users and devices to securely access any application (SaaS, mobile, on-prem), API or service from any device, emphasising user mobility and seamless authentication on multiple devices. It focuses on simplifying the process for enterprise IT and developers by integrating identity and access management controls directly into the app development process, so teams can focus on other critical areas of identity and security.

Ping Identity can currently be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or both, and acts as a central identity control system to manage MFA, SSO, access security, API security, and user profiles (governance, Active Directory, and so on). It offers API for policy management, passwordless authentication, an API gateway, and configurable high availability support. For enterprise scenarios, PingOne for Enterprise and PingID combined with PingFederate and PingAccess are the services required for large-scale scenarios, as per Forrester Research.

In terms of authorisation, the Ping Identity platform as a whole can be used to authorise user access to only the web-based, mobile and API resources they need, with streamlined access management and control. It also has in-built AI which they refer to as identity intelligence to support real-time threat detection for safer authorisation, and policy creation to enforce these methods based on defined business rules.

Like Okta, Ping Identity supports most federation protocols (OAuth, SAML) and integrates with hundreds of applications, including G Suite, RFPIO and third-party SAML directories. Ping Identity is great for personal use, and is used by startups, SMBs and enterprises globally - and often compared to Okta in terms of its versatility.


Okta vs Ping Identity: Which is best suited for my business?

Following the recommendations put forth by both Forrester and Gartner Research, both Okta and Ping Identity are stellar identity and access management solutions that best suit specific enterprise needs and use-cases.

For managing the full identity and user lifecycle, however, Xello believe Okta provides more capability for enterprises looking to overhaul their access. Okta’s single console solution offers businesses some of the strongest access management, policy definition, and directory integration in the market, particularly for enterprise on Microsoft Azure and Windows with its integrated Windows authentication capabilities. Businesses with minimal on-premises identity and access management expertise, and who have hundreds or thousands of users using cloud-based SaaS applications, will benefit the most from the heavily streamlined Okta solution. Okta’s platform-agnostic approach, with thousands of pre-built integrations with essential third-party applications, also means it’s easier to get up and running with securing access and identity for users on these apps, delivering overall business value faster.

Ping is has continuously updated updates its AM functionality and its Ping Identity Platform has made it easy for both small and-large scale organisations to unify identity and access for more secure, seamless user experiences with MFA and SSO. The platform is particularly beneficial for businesses using Microsoft platforms due to their partnership with Microsoft, through which they offer their own products within Azure AD Premium to strengthen identity on top of Azure Cloud, with methods for advanced authentication with Azure AD Connect and ADFS.


Ultimately, modernising your identity and access capabilities with the best solution in the market comes down to a lot of factors and needs unique to your business. To help further with this analysis, download our free whitepaper on modern identity platforms today.

3 Reasons You Need A Modern Identity Platform


Tags: Okta, Identity