For IT administrators and Managed Service Providers, secure Identity and Access Management (IAM) capabilities is vital to operational security success. Organizations need to manage the digital identities of users and assets throughout the network, and they need tools that make this process efficient without compromising security or compliance.
Okta is a well-known identity provider whose customers include some of the world’s most reputable multinational enterprises. However, it’s much less popular among small to mid-sized enterprises and MSPs, who can’t afford the economies of scale that Okta offers. That’s why many IT and security leaders are considering Okta alternatives like JumpCloud.
This article provides deep insight into the differences between these two products. Read on to find out which platform is the right choice for your organization.
Which Problems Do You Need to Solve?
Both Okta and JumpCloud provide comprehensive identity access management to customers, but with a few key differences. The main difference between Okta and JumpCloud is the target customer. Okta is built for large-scale enterprises that can fully leverage its capabilities strictly for IAM security. JumpCloud offers a more comprehensive suite of identity, access, and device management capabilities better-suited to smaller organizations and MSPs.
This is important because different types of customers have different problems they want to solve. An enterprise that is already using dozens of different security tools across a complex organizational structure has completely different needs compared to a growing company that might prefer a more streamlined, all-in-one solution.
Let’s cover how Okta and JumpCloud express these differences more specifically:
Identity Lifecycle Management
IT administrators need to manage every user’s association with the organization from the moment they are hired. Effective identity governance and streamlined onboarding are critical to ensuring a robust security posture. Okta and JumpCloud provide high-quality results in these categories.
Okta and JumpCloud offer full-featured identity governance capabilities
Every organization needs formal policies that define the resources users have access to, and their IAM solution must enforce these policies effectively. Both Okta and JumpCloud have robust capabilities for ensuring employees have access to the resources they need and revoking access when it is no longer needed.
Identity governance is an important element of many regulatory frameworks, and both Okta and JumpCloud offer solutions that help organizations achieve compliance. Both Okta and JumpCloud can automatically detect user status changes and make proactive recommendations to administrators in response.
JumpCloud has an edge when it comes to easy onboarding
Okta and JumpCloud allow administrators to define user access policies, create group policies, and automatically authorize users according to their membership in groups. However, only JumpCloud allows administrators to automatically import Microsoft 365 users and schedule account activation ahead of time.
Technically, Okta administrators can achieve similar results by creating an automated workflow that includes scheduling account activation. However, it’s not a streamlined process. It takes considerably more time and attention from IT administrators than JumpCloud requires.
Proper authentication management is a vital part of identity-based security. This is especially true for organizations adopting Zero Trust principles that treat all connections as potential attack vectors. However, authentication policies still need to offer an easy, streamlined user experience that avoids becoming an obstacle to productivity.
Okta and JumpCloud support multi-factor authentication (MFA)
Multi-factor authentication is a core feature for Zero Trust, and a cost-effective way to dramatically improve security in general. Both Okta and JumpCloud support a variety of multi-factor authentication protocols, including one-time passwords, mobile push notifications, and FIDO-compliant passwordless options.
Okta takes the lead with single sign-on (SSO) capabilities
Both companies are invested in making their multi-factor authentication capabilities as low-friction as possible. SSO reduces the user friction that arises when users have to repeatedly authenticate themselves when accessing different IT assets and resources. Both Okta and JumpCloud support best-in-class SSO features like conditional access and MFA escalation.
The one thing that puts Okta in front of JumpCloud here is its risk scoring feature. With Okta, administrators can quickly see and communicate risk scores associated with specific users based on their SSO activity and orchestrate workflows based on this score.
JumpCloud offers superior password management features
While both Okta and JumpCloud support password policy management directly through their respective interfaces, they have slightly different capabilities. For example, Okta does not support on-device password vaults, nor does it include a full-featured password manager for desktops and mobile devices.
JumpCloud does provide device-hosted password vaults and includes a built-in password manager suitable for PCs, laptops, and mobile devices running Android or iOS. It also allows users to share passwords with one another through a secure in-app channel – instead of implicitly encouraging them to do it on their own using unsecured shadow IT apps.
Passwordless authentication is easier to implement with JumpCloud
Okta and JumpCloud are members of the FIDO Alliance, a nonprofit group dedicated to establishing usable standards for passwordless authentication. Customers can easily onboard FIDO-compliant technologies that support passwordless authentication through either platform.
JumpCloud’s interface and endpoint-driven approach makes it easier for end users to use compliant passwordless authentication processes on their own, without requiring an administrator to perform extra tasks. Okta is designed for large enterprises that can reliably allocate administrator resources to these types of tasks on an as-needed basis.
Both platforms support the principle of least privilege
Users should only gain access to the resources they need when they need them – and retain access only while it’s needed. Okta and JumpCloud include valuable features for preventing user accounts from getting overprovisioned. This is typically achieved through automated just-in-time provisioning that provides and automatically revokes access on an as-needed basis.
The main difference between Okta and JumpCloud is in the way each platform expresses the principle of least privilege. Okta focuses more on managing IT assets across complex enterprise networks, while JumpCloud provides more in-depth visibility and control to mobile devices and endpoints in general.
Your organization’s IAM strategy must take the security posture of your endpoint devices into account. For the large enterprises that make up a major part of Okta’s customer base, this is usually the task of a separate third-party endpoint management tool.
On its own, Okta does not provide much in the way of endpoint deployment or management. It does include a Device Inventory feature that allows administrators to collect and analyze device data, but it’s not a core use case for the platform. Okta is designed to integrate with purpose-built solutions for deploying and managing endpoints.
Deploying endpoint devices is easier through JumpCloud
With JumpCloud, IT administrators can easily onboard and provision endpoints according to predefined group policies. This reduces the amount of time and effort that goes into endpoint deployment and minimizes the additional training requirements for new administrators. There is no need to integrate JumpCloud with complex on-premises infrastructure or install other software beforehand.
JumpCloud also wins when it comes to secure device management
JumpCloud customers enjoy all-in-one endpoint management solutions directly through its own interface. Administrators can write custom scripts and distribute them directly to endpoints, executing them through JumpCloud’s web-based console. This allows administrators and security teams to remotely execute commands, distribute software, and encrypt disks directly on endpoint devices.
Directory Services, Supported Protocols, and Customization
Okta and JumpCloud have very different architectures, designed for different types of customers. While Okta stays firmly in its secure IAM management lane, JumpCloud provides a more comprehensive all-in-one solution for mobile device management and security. This reflects Okta’s position as a niche enterprise tool and JumpCloud’s more comprehensive approach for small and growing enterprises.
JumpCloud provides built-in directory services ideal for smaller organizations
Every organization needs to record account names, access policies, and confidential user data on a secure, centralized repository. Large enterprises typically do this using Microsoft Active Directory (AD) or a Linux-based Lightweight Directory Access Protocol (LDAP). Smaller organizations don’t always have a separate, dedicated solution in place for this.
JumpCloud provides a unified directory that supports the centralized management of supported resources. There is no need to deploy AD or LDAP infrastructure separately before using JumpCloud. Instead, the JumpCloud endpoint agent connects to the JumpCloud service through direct, one-way channels that provide a streamlined directory solution without the need for additional complications.
JumpCloud supports more federated enterprise protocols than Okta
JumpCloud doesn’t require customers to use its built-in directory services. Enterprise customers can also connect it to a wide range of identity management protocols. Importantly, it supports several popular protocols that Okta doesn’t, like Remote Authentication Dial-In User Service (RADIUS) and LDAP.
This ensures that IT leaders at small and mid-sized enterprises do not have the burden of building and maintaining individual connections to resources accessed through these protocols. For Okta to support RADIUS and LDAP, administrators must add supporting agents that contribute to the complexity of the enterprise tech stack.
Both platforms offer comprehensive custom integration options
JumpCloud offers customers the ability to build custom integrations to third-party service providers offering RESTful APIs. It also supports SCIM and other protocols for achieving in-depth customization. The same is true of Okta, thanks to its federated architecture that explicitly relies on building out a wide range of third-party integrations.
Okta has a complex pricing structure that includes a $1500 annual minimum. It does not provide volume pricing discounts to organizations with less than 5000 users. Here is a breakdown of Okta’s pricing structure compared to JumpCloud:
|Okta Standard($ /user/month)
|JumpCloud a la carte price
|Single Sign On
|API Access Management
|Advanced Server Access
|$15 per server
|Conditional Access Policies
|$16 (+ $XX/server)
Concerns and Other Considerations
Although Okta’s standard pricing might appear slightly lower than JumpCloud’s top-tier Plus subscription, IT leaders should factor in the additional costs that come with Okta’s complex implementation requirements.These may not be a major factor for large-scale enterprises that already have the necessary infrastructure in place, but it’s virtually guaranteed to be an obstacle for smaller organizations.
This is especially true when advanced server access comes into the picture. Depending on the organization’s real-world server access needs, this additional charge can dramatically impact the total cost of ownership associated with Okta.
At the same time, IT leaders should consider the value of deploying a consolidated IT infrastructure that includes mobile device management. Building comprehensive efficiencies into IT workflows carries cumulative gains as the organization grows. Like many other differences between the two platforms, this will carry more weight with IT leaders at growing companies.
Which Is Right for You?
Okta has positioned itself as a major provider of IAM services to large enterprises and government organizations. It is designed for environments that already have complex tech stacks in place, with multiple third-party vendors addressing different specialized needs.
JumpCloud’s centralized approach is a better solution for small and medium-sized enterprise IT administrators and managed service providers. These types of organizations benefit from having a streamlined tech stack that focuses on a smaller number of more comprehensive providers.
If your organization does not have the resources to build out an entire enterprise tech stack, JumpCloud is the clear winner between the two. This also applies to managed service vendors whose strategic goals revolve around deploying cost-effective technologies that provide optimal value.
Get Started With JumpCloud
We encourage IT administrators to carefully review all the options on the market before choosing an identity management partner for their organization. Find out how JumpCloud has earned its place as one of the industry’s most reputable names by scheduling a guiding product simulation or an in-depth demo today.
You can also get started with a free trial at any time.