Can Okta Replace Active Directory?
August 5th, 2021

Okta has long been working with Active Directory to help companies take advantage of the benefits that both systems provide. Okta saw the need to provide the world with a better, more advanced single sign-on solution, so that workers could login to applications quickly. But, it was necessary to work with Active Directory so that IT teams could keep managing their user accounts. 

Given the development of Okta, along with so many other web-based apps and on-premise software, can Okta replace Active Directory? All of the different types of apps now available means that Active Directory is no longer the be all and end all of company IT systems. Companies can have the freedom of working with a certified Okta solution provider. Has Okta usurped Microsoft’s usual monopoly as a core identity provider? 

Is Okta A Replacement For Active Directory? 

While it is possible for Okta to help replace Active Directory - particularly with the mass move towards cloud identity management solutions versus on-premises - some users may not want to go as far as to say that Okta can entirely replace it. Active Directory still provides an essential directory service solution for many companies. While more and more firms are choosing Mac and Linux systems, Active Directory is still used widely around the world. So even if you can theoretically replace Active Directory with Okta, the true question is - do you want to? Increasingly, the answer could well be yes.

Okta Versus Active Directory

When answering the question, “Do you want to replace Active Directory with Okta,” you need to consider many aspects before taking the leap. It is a big decision to make, especially if you are already using Active Directory as a large part of your IT system. 

That being said, Active Directory is no longer the market leader it once was. It gained widespread usage because, at the time of creation, it was the best system available. Now, with the continuous evolution of IT, Active Directory is no longer the slick operation it once was. In fact, when people are working remotely, or if you have a workforce made up of contractors and freelancers, Active Directory can make setting them up on a system cumbersome. 

Okta, in comparison, with its Okta Identity Cloud, is a highly flexible solution. It provides single sign-on, multi-factor authentication, and lifecycle management. This makes it up to the task of delivering everything that is required of a modern-day directory. Switching to Okta offers users a far more dynamic, agile system that makes managing all things IT much easier. In the long run, that makes for more efficiency and therefore more productivity in the process. 

Using Okta as a secure cloud identity management solution helps IT teams streamline their work. Okta also allows IT teams to spend less time managing user errors and troubleshooting issues from employees, who, with the right system, should be able to work autonomously, from anywhere, without any problems. Okta’s excellent cloud solution allows control of access to all applications and resources with password-less authentication. 

Additionally, all devices and IdaaS solutions share device/user context so users do not have to log in to every application they need. Instead, they log in just one time. Security is also enhanced with Okta, as it provides secure access to servers and security software like VPNs and secured WiFi. 

All this adds up to a system that can be designed to fit a company’s needs, as opposed to a company’s needs having to fit in around the system in place. 

Okta and Active Directory - Key Takeaways

The idea, if you are a company using Active Directory, of replacing it entirely can be a hugely intimidating idea. In fact, it can be such a daunting task that many businesses choose to stay with the status quo. 

That, however, may be short sighted. In the long run, replacing Active Directory with Okta can be a far better idea. Okta is built to answer the demands of a modern company. Active Directory, though great at so many things, can no longer provide on its own what many businesses require. And, while Okta can be used in conjunction with Active Directory to get the best of both worlds, the slightly outdated nature of Active Directory will still be there, thus arguably making it a good idea to do away with it in favour of Okta.

For further information on Okta, check out our other articles like Okta Integration with Salesforce and How Does Okta Authentication Work.