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Okta Plans Improved Partner Program In 2023

Wade Tyler Millward

‘We’ve seen about 10 percent growth in partner contribution over the past couple of years,’ Okta channel chief Bill Hustad says.

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Bill Hustad

Identity and access management vendor Okta plans to announce an enhanced partner program next year, adding incentives, enablement, rebates, market development funds and other resources and tools.

Okta’s new channel chief, Bill Hustad, and CEO Todd McKinnon told CRN about the importance of services-led partners for the company’s go-to-market in interviews ahead of the company’s Oktane22 conference, which runs Tuesday to Thursday in San Francisco.

“We’ve seen about 10 percent growth in partner contribution over the past couple of years,” Hustad said Hustad. “That can go a lot higher.”

[RELATED: Okta Hires New Channel Chief After Sudden Departure Of Previous Partner Boss]

What is an Okta partner?

Manak Ahluwalia, CEO of Waltham, Mass.-based Okta partner Aqueduct Technologies – a member of CRN’s 2022 Managed Service Provider (MSP) 500 – said his customers have enjoyed the simplicity of Okta’s single-sign on authentication platform.

As more customers embrace cloud-based services, a way to secure identity and access and streamline the user provisioning process also becomes more important, Ahluwalia said. The same goes for customers going through mergers and acquisitions and ones building more robust processes for a growing workforce outside of the office.

“It just gives them a really good workflow to be able to universally take somebody in and out of the entire application stack,” he said.

He said that if Okta invests in its channel partner program, he’d like to seemore enablement around its applications as well as its identity storage features plus more best practice integration guides for interoperability with Okta.

Hustad is only about four months into his role. He joined Okta in July, taking on the formal title of senior vice president of global partners and alliances. He previously worked at Splunk for more than five years, with the last portion of his time with Splunk in the role of vice president of alliances and channel ecosystems.

His aspirations for the program include a badging or point system for ascending tiers and advisory groups to elicit partner feedback. Okta has about 1,200 partners worldwide, he said. He’s met with about 65 partners to talk about developing a new program.

“We’re going to have a roadmap,” he said. “We’re going to talk about what’s coming. We’re going to get validation from the market through partner experience. We’re going to really drive to create one voice from Okta to our partners so they always know that coming through this vessel allows them to get visibility of how they’re succeeding, whether they‘re just focused on delivery, or finding business or even transacting.”

McKinnon told CRN that partnering with Okta is an opportunity for MSPs and systems integrators (SIs) because the San Francisco-based company’s products are used not only for security but for application and product development

Partners “are really important to us and we’ve done a lot to partner effectively with partners of all sizes, and we will continue to more and more,” McKinnon said.

During the company’s most recent earnings call back in August for the second quarter of fiscal year 2023, Okta reported total revenue of $452 million, an increase of 43 percent year over year. Subscription revenue was $435 million, an increase of 44 percent year over year.

The company reported a net loss for the quarter of $210.5 million, an improvement from last year’s net loss of $276.7 million during the same period.

McKinnon pitched his company as valuable to services-led partners because of its focus on identity compared to larger tech vendors including identity as part of their own offerings.

“There’s never been an at-scale identity company,” McKinnon said. Any company that’s ever had identity products that‘s gotten to scale has been part of another platform. So they’re part of the Computer Associates (CA, now part of Broadcom) management stack. Or they‘re a part of Windows and the whole Windows ecosystem. Or they’re a part of Oracle.”

He continued: “So we’re kind of unique. We’re the first one ever to get to at-scale – $1.8 billion of revenue this year – just selling identity. And that’s because identity is such an important problem now, there’s broad value in having one company that can cover everything, from customer to workforce identity.”

Wade Tyler Millward

Wade Tyler Millward is an associate editor covering cloud computing and the channel partner programs of Microsoft, IBM, Red Hat, Oracle, Salesforce, Citrix and other cloud vendors. He can be reached at wmillward@thechannelcompany.com.

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