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This is a sea change from on-premises identity platforms of the past. On-prem platforms are expensive, time consuming to setup, and hard to maintain. These platforms are deployed per customer, and are designed to scale for an individual customer, and the onus for scaling it as needed is on the customer. Okta’s architecture is designed to dynamically scale system-wide. With proprietary techniques we have developed on top of today’s leading cloud infrastructure technology, we have designed a platform that gives us the potential for limitless scale.
Since we are aiming for billions of users and authentications, in 2014 we rolled out a new platform architecture that will get us to extreme scale. We call this architecture “cells”. A cell is a self-contained instance of the entire Okta service.
• Risk Mitigation—Any fault in infrastructure is contained within a cell using a High Availability (HA) architecture, and even in case of an entire datacenter going down, another cell in a different geography takes ownership of the affected accounts within an hour.
• Staged Deployment and Rollback—We can rollout code one cell at a time or rollback on just one cell, instead of the entire service. This decreases the surface area of potential issues that could arise from a code update.
• Infrastructure Provider independence—We gain the flexibility to deploy Okta on Google Compute, Microsoft Azure and additional zones and regions of AWS.
• Geographical Isolation—We can guarantee that your data stays within relevant political borders.
• Horizontal Scalability—We can now add a cell to increase capacity quickly. We also have the capability to split a cell to double the capacity for tenants on the original cell. In addition, not all tenants are hosted on the same cell, so we can avoid the point of diminishing returns on performance.
Today, Okta is already hosted on 5 cells, including one dedicated cell for Europe and one cell that is HIPPA compliant.
Today, Okta has over 20 million users on the platform, and authenticates 450k users per hour which translates to 10.8M authentications per day. Already, Okta’s engineering team has successfully tested the platform for a 3x increase on current loads. The number of objects in our database is generally not as much of a limitation as the transaction volume. In particular, authentications are the greatest load on Okta, and therefore the volume of authentications we can handle is the metric we look at the most. Okta has run controlled tests for a transaction load of 1.2M user authentication per hour. It is important to note that even in such a high load we are still not fully utilizing Okta’s scale capabilities.
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