Okta invests in, partners with Immuta to secure cloud analytics


Okta, well known for its cloud-based identity management technology, has partnered with automated data governance firm Immuta, both companies announced today. Okta Ventures has also made an investment in Immuta, funding product innovation and joint go-to-market initiatives. The tie-up makes clear both that cloud data lakes/warehouses are here to stay, and that securing them is an enterprise necessity.

ZDNet spoke with Immuta CEO Matthew Carroll, and Okta Ventures director Austin Arensberg. The two provided context and color around the partnership and explained that it encompasses several touch points.

Partnership and synergy

These nodes of partnership include integration of Immuta with Okta’s System for Cross-domain Identity Management (SCIM), extending authorization to cloud data sources including Immuta partners Snowflake and Databricks; Dynamic Policy Creation, wherein Immuta data policies can be informed by Okta identities; implementation of attribute-based access control (ABAC) and purpose-based access control (PBAC) fine-grained security, which work at the row, column, or cell level; and auditing/reporting, where Immuta’s audit logs and reporting can be combined with Okta’s identity and authorization.

A joint customer of the two companies makes the use case and requirements tangible: the Covid Alliance/Center for New Data, which tracks COVID-19 research and shapes public policy. Facilitating the collaboration that Center for New Data relies on requires that researchers have access to just what they’re authorized to, when combined data sets are created. Privacy rights can’t be violated, and data sovereignty must align with researchers’ geographic locations. 

The problem is a complex one, but researchers’ access to data needs to be seamless, nevertheless. Ryan Naughton, the Center for New Data’s co-founder/co-executive director, says “the combination of Okta and Immuta allows us to confidently authenticate a diverse set of users and authorize different levels of analyses, while preserving privacy and ensuring compliance with regulations and contractual data rights.”

Old requirements, new dimensions

It’s clear that older, conventional on-premises data analytics platforms aren’t sufficient for workloads where data sources are varied, data volumes are large, and frequency of updates are too. But it’s also the case that the level of rigor and security in those older systems is absolutely still needed. Just as integration of Active Directory/LDAP and Kerberos into the open source big data sphere has been necessary, it’s now also time to integrate identity management systems like Okta’s, which allows a single identity to be used for authorization to multiple cloud services.

In other words, building and operating cloud data lakes and warehouses requires single sign-on, across clouds, applications and services. The Okta-Immuta partnership makes this possible. While the union may be less than “sexy,” it’s a big deal in terms of cloud data analytics maturity.

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