What is Okta Universal Directory?

Written by Ryan Squires on April 3, 2019

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Okta® has recently been pushing a variety of its solutions in the wake of creating a deeper a la carte pricing model. In effect, their pricing model is pushing up the pricing of the entire Okta suite of solutions close to $25 per user, per month. One component of that a la carte pricing is Okta Universal Directory. For many, however, it’s unclear what Okta Universal Directory even is. In this article, we will give you a feel for what Okta Universal Directory is and what you can expect to do with it.

Definition of a Directory

Lately, there has been a lot of discussions surrounding directories, and because of that discussion, the term can get confusing. Historically, there have been directories used for authentication and authorization to access IT resources as well as directories used as repositories of information and attributes for hierarchical information. The issue highlighted is exactly what IT admins experience when considering AWS® Directory Service vs AWS Cloud Directory. Both products contain the word directory, but they do completely different things. In short, it can be confusing for organizations looking to understand how individual companies define the word directory and what exactly that definition means to their organization. That said, let’s get right to it.

What is Okta Universal Directory?

Okta Universal Directory seems to be much more in line with AWS Cloud Directory as a central repository for information. It appears that Okta’s goal was to create a product to tightly integrate with human capital management (HCM) systems such as Workday and others in an effort to be the central authority for information about a particular user. In fact, Okta Universal Directory can integrate a variety of different sources of information and help integrate all of that information together into one master directory of information about a user. This Universal Directory is used in conjunction with their web application single sign-on (SSO) platform.

All told, Okta’s Universal Directory should not be confused with a traditional directory service such as Microsoft® Active Directory® or OpenLDAP™, which are focused on authenticating user access to systems, applications, file servers, and networks. Additionally, AD has the ability to manage Windows®-based systems as well, another task not in the focus area for Okta Universal Directory. Further, while Okta’s Universal Directory is delivered from the cloud, it should not be confused with a cloud directory service such as Directory-as-a-Service®, which equates to a reimagination of Active Directory and LDAP for the cloud.

How is Directory-as-a-Service Different?

JumpCloud® Directory-as-a-Service is a cloud-based directory service used to authenticate and authorize users to the tools and resources they leverage in their day-to-day work life. Such tools and resources include systems (Mac®, Windows®, and Linux®), applications both on-prem and in the cloud via LDAP and SAML, hosted and on-prem file servers (NAS / Samba, G Drive™, Dropbox™), and networks via RADIUS. Plus, with True Single Sign-On™, your users can access all of these and more with one set of credentials.  

Further, managing access to devices and IT resources is not the only trick up JumpCloud’s sleeve. You can also manage systems in cross-platform environments with GPO-like policies. Examples of policies you can deploy are full disk encryption (Windows and Mac), automatic OS updates, and screen lock timers.

Try JumpCloud Free Today

Depending on the use case, the answer to what is Okta Universal Directory may not be sufficient to your overall identity management needs. If that’s the case, sign up for a JumpCloud account today. In order to help you make your evaluation, your JumpCloud account comes with the ability to manage 10 users free—forever. If you get stuck, our Knowledge Base is a great place to find information. Further questions? Contact one of our product experts, and they can help guide you through your options.

Ryan Squires

Ryan Squires is a content writer at JumpCloud, a company dedicated to connecting users to the IT resources they need securely and efficiently. He has a degree in Journalism and Media Communication from Colorado State University.

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