Okta expands partnership with Box to include enterprise mobility management

Okta, a company mostly known for cloud identity management, made a foray into enterprise mobility management (EMM) at the end of 2014. Today, it announced a partnership with Box to support device-level security for the Box mobile app.

The company is hoping this is the start of a series of partnerships with enterprise mobile app vendors that will enable them to apply a set of policies on the device, such as requiring a device PIN before you can use any of the managed apps.

Okta’s EMM solution also includes integrated identity across participating apps with Single Sign-On (SSO) along with unified provisioning across all devices, according to the company.

Okta and Box have a long history together but this expands the friendship, Okta CEO Todd McKinnon told TechCrunch. “The thing that is significant is that it’s a technology partnership around mobility and mobility management, which is an extension of our long business partnership,” he said.

While Box has always handled security at the application level, this separates the security from the app, McKinnon said. “We’re going from security on an app to security and identity being applied consistently on all apps,” he explained.

Without this approach, each app has to handle security and identity separately instead of in a federated way. Of course, it ultimately requires that more than Box sign up, but Box CEO Aaron Levie says that he believes that will happen.

“I’m very confident that they will get the support they need to make this successful,” he said, adding he’s very comfortable being an early adopter for these new capabilities.

“All of those controls [are designed to] ensure secure access in a mobile world. It’s an even more profound shift from cloud to mobile than from client-server to cloud, and it’s even more important to control access and what apps can run on different [mobile] platforms,” Levie said.

As we move from a world of a few vertical stacks to one of multiple cloud vendors, many running on mobile devices, Levie believes having that federated security and identity is increasingly critical. Box works with a number of vendors in this space including Okta.

Okta is currently in discussion with other enterprise mobile app vendors to expand this program, McKinnon said.

Okta has raised almost $230 million including $75 million last summer. It also scored a unicorn valuation of over $1 billion with that money, and it’s still listed on the CrunchBase Unicorn Leaderboard.

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