Keycloak vs Okta: A Comprehensive Comparison

In today’s digital landscape, securing and managing user identities and access to resources is critical. Organizations often rely on Identity and Access Management (IAM) solutions to ensure security and streamline user authentication processes. Two popular IAM platforms are Okta and Keycloak. In this blog post, we will provide a comprehensive comparison of Okta and Keycloak, covering their features, capabilities, and other factors that can help you choose the right solution for your organization.

Introduction to Okta and Keycloak

Before diving into the comparison, let’s briefly introduce both Okta and Keycloak, along with their key features and capabilities.

Okta: Overview and Features

Okta is a cloud-based identity and access management solution that offers a wide range of features to manage and secure user identities. It provides Single Sign-On (SSO), Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), and comprehensive access management capabilities for web, mobile, and API applications. Okta is designed for organizations of all sizes, from small businesses to large enterprises, and offers pre-built integrations with thousands of popular applications and services.

Some of the key features of Okta include:

  • Centralized user management
  • SSO and MFA
  • Lifecycle management and provisioning
  • Access control and role management
  • Adaptive authentication and risk-based access policies
  • Extensive pre-built integrations and connectors

Keycloak: Overview and Features

Keycloak is an open-source IAM solution developed by Red Hat. It provides a comprehensive set of features for securing and managing user identities, including SSO, MFA, and social identity brokering. Keycloak can be deployed on-premise or in the cloud, and supports both SAML and OpenID Connect (OIDC) protocols. Keycloak is a popular choice among organizations looking for a flexible, customizable, and cost-effective IAM solution.

Some of the key features of Keycloak include:

  • Centralized user management
  • SSO and MFA
  • User federation and identity brokering
  • Access control and role management
  • Support for SAML, OIDC, and OAuth 2.0
  • Customizable themes and authentication flows

Identity and Access Management (IAM) Capabilities

In this section, we will compare the IAM capabilities of Okta and Keycloak, focusing on their user management, SSO, MFA, and access control features.

User Management

Both Okta and Keycloak offer centralized user management capabilities, allowing administrators to manage users and their attributes, credentials, and group memberships from a single interface. Okta provides a cloud-based user store and supports integration with external user sources such as Active Directory, LDAP, and HR systems. Keycloak, on the other hand, supports user federation with external sources like LDAP and Active Directory, as well as custom user storage providers through its User Storage SPI.

In terms of user provisioning, Okta offers advanced capabilities with its Universal Directory and Lifecycle Management features, which enable automated provisioning and de-provisioning of user accounts based on predefined rules and policies. Keycloak also supports user provisioning, but its capabilities are more limited compared to Okta.

Single Sign-On (SSO)

SSO is a key feature of both Okta and Keycloak, allowing users to authenticate once and access multiple applications without needing to log in again. Okta supports SSO for thousands of pre-integrated applications and services, as well as custom applications using SAML or OIDC. Keycloak also supports SSO with its built-in SAML and OIDC support, making it easy to integrate with a wide range of applications.

While both solutions offer robust SSO capabilities, Okta’s extensive catalog of pre-built integrations may be more appealing to organizations looking for seamless out-of-the-box support for popular applications and services.

Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

Both Okta and Keycloak provide MFA capabilities to enhance the security of user authentication by requiring additional factors beyond a simple username and password. Okta’s MFA solution supports various authentication factors, including SMS, voice, email, mobile app push notifications, and hardware tokens. 

Keycloak’s MFA capabilities include support for one-time passwords (OTP) via email or mobile apps like Google Authenticator and FreeOTP. Keycloak also allows for the customization of MFA requirements and the creation of custom authentication flows. 

Access Control and Role Management

Both Okta and Keycloak provide robust access control and role management capabilities, enabling organizations to define and enforce granular access policies based on user attributes, group memberships, and other criteria.

Okta’s access control features include group-based policies, dynamic access policies based on user context (e.g., location, device, etc.), and integration with third-party risk and identity governance solutions. Okta also supports role-based access control (RBAC) and attribute-based access control (ABAC) for fine-grained permission management.

Keycloak offers comprehensive access control features, including RBAC and fine-grained permission management through its built-in Policy and Permission Management system. Keycloak also supports custom access policies through its Policy SPI, which allows developers to create custom policy evaluation logic.

Integration and Extensibility

In this section, we will compare the integration and extensibility options offered by Okta and Keycloak, focusing on pre-built connectors, custom integrations, and API/SDK support.

Pre-built Connectors and Integrations

Okta boasts a vast catalog of pre-built connectors and integrations with thousands of popular applications and services, including cloud applications, on-premise solutions, and mobile apps. This extensive library makes it easy for organizations to enable SSO and other IAM features for their existing applications with minimal effort.

While Keycloak does not have as extensive a catalog of pre-built connectors as Okta, it does offer built-in support for popular protocols like SAML and OIDC, making it straightforward to integrate with a wide range of applications. Additionally, Keycloak’s support for user federation and identity brokering simplifies the process of integrating with external user sources.

Custom Integrations

Both Okta and Keycloak offer options for custom integrations, allowing organizations to build tailored IAM solutions to meet their unique requirements. Okta provides APIs and SDKs for various platforms, enabling developers to create custom integrations with applications, services, and user stores.

Keycloak, being an open-source solution, offers even greater flexibility and extensibility for custom integrations. Its modular architecture and support for custom providers (e.g., User Storage SPI, Policy SPI, etc.) allow developers to create tailored IAM solutions that address specific needs and requirements.

API and SDK Support

Both Okta and Keycloak provide extensive API and SDK support for integrating their IAM features into custom applications and services. Okta offers REST APIs for user management, authentication, and other IAM functions, along with SDKs for popular platforms like Java, .NET, and Node.js.

Keycloak’s APIs include REST endpoints for user management, token issuance, and other core IAM functions. Keycloak also offers adapters for various platforms and frameworks, such as Java, Node.js, and Spring

Boot, to simplify the integration process. Additionally, Keycloak’s open-source nature allows developers to access and modify its source code, offering even greater flexibility and customization options.

Deployment and Scalability

The deployment options and scalability of an IAM solution are essential factors to consider when selecting the right platform for your organization. In this section, we will compare the deployment and scalability capabilities of Okta and Keycloak.

Okta: Cloud-based Deployment

Okta is a cloud-based IAM solution, which means that it is hosted and managed by Okta, eliminating the need for organizations to deploy and maintain the platform on their own infrastructure. This cloud-based approach simplifies the deployment process and reduces the operational overhead associated with managing an IAM solution. Okta’s cloud-based architecture also provides built-in scalability, allowing organizations to easily expand their IAM infrastructure as their needs grow.

Keycloak: On-premise and Hybrid Deployment Options

Keycloak offers more flexibility in terms of deployment options, as it can be deployed on-premise, in the cloud, or in a hybrid configuration. This flexibility allows organizations to choose the deployment model that best meets their security, compliance, and operational requirements. For organizations that prefer to maintain control over their IAM infrastructure or have specific compliance requirements, Keycloak’s on-premise deployment option may be more suitable.

In terms of scalability, Keycloak supports clustering and high availability configurations, which enable organizations to scale their IAM infrastructure as needed. However, organizations deploying Keycloak on-premise or in a hybrid configuration will need to manage the scaling process themselves, which may require additional operational resources compared to Okta’s cloud-based approach.

Security and Compliance

Ensuring the security and compliance of an IAM solution is crucial for organizations handling sensitive user data and resources. In this section, we will compare the security and compliance features of Okta and Keycloak.

Security Certifications and Standards

Okta holds several industry-standard security certifications, including ISO 27001, ISO 27018, and SOC 2 Type II, demonstrating its commitment to maintaining a high level of security and data protection. Additionally, Okta is compliant with various privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA.

Keycloak, being an open-source solution, does not hold specific security certifications. However, its parent company, Red Hat, is known for its commitment to security and adherence to industry best practices. Organizations deploying Keycloak on-premise or in a hybrid configuration will need to ensure that their deployment meets the necessary security standards and compliance requirements.

Data Privacy and Storage

Okta’s cloud-based architecture means that user data is stored in Okta’s data centres, which are subject to strict security controls and regular audits. Okta also offers data residency options, allowing organizations to choose where their user data is stored based on their compliance and privacy requirements.

With Keycloak, organizations have more control over where their user data is stored, as they can choose to deploy the platform on-premise or in a cloud environment that meets their data residency requirements. However, this also means that organizations are responsible for ensuring the security and compliance of their Keycloak deployment and the storage of user data.

Auditing and Reporting

Both Okta and Keycloak offer auditing and reporting features that enable organizations to track and monitor user activity and access events. Okta provides a comprehensive set of reports and dashboards, as well as integration with third-party SIEM and analytics solutions for advanced monitoring and analysis.

Keycloak includes built-in auditing capabilities and allows for the export of audit logs to external systems for further analysis. While Keycloak’s auditing features may not be as extensive as Okta’s, they provide a solid foundation for monitoring and tracking user activity within the platform.

Pricing and Support

The pricing model and support options are important factors to consider when selecting an IAM solution. In this section, we will compare the pricing and support offerings of Okta and Keycloak.

Okta Pricing Model

Okta uses a subscription-based pricing model, with different tiers and plans available based on the number of users and the features required. The pricing structure includes options for small businesses, enterprises, and custom plans for larger organizations with specific requirements. While Okta’s pricing may be higher than some other IAM solutions, its extensive features, pre-built integrations, and cloud-based deployment model can provide significant value to organizations looking for a comprehensive IAM platform.

Keycloak Pricing Model

Keycloak is an open-source IAM solution, which means that it is available at no cost for organizations to use and customize. However, organizations deploying Keycloak may still incur costs related to infrastructure, maintenance, and support. For organizations looking for enterprise-grade support and additional features, Red Hat offers a commercial version of Keycloak called Red Hat Single Sign-On (SSO), which is available through a subscription model.

Customer Support and Documentation

Both Okta and Keycloak offer extensive documentation, including user guides, API reference materials, and developer resources. Okta provides a wide range of support options, including online support, phone support, and dedicated account managers for enterprise customers. Okta’s support team is known for its responsiveness and expertise, ensuring that customers receive the assistance they need.

Keycloak, being an open-source project, has a community-driven support model, with users relying on forums, mailing lists, and other online resources for help. For organizations that require professional support, Red Hat offers support services for its commercial Red Hat SSO product. While Keycloak’s community-driven support model may not provide the same level of responsiveness as Okta’s dedicated support team, it can still be a valuable resource for organizations using the platform.

Conclusion and Recommendations

Choosing the Right Identity Provider for Your Organization

Selecting the right IAM solution for your organization depends on your specific needs, requirements, and priorities. Okta and Keycloak both offer robust IAM capabilities, but they cater to different use cases and preferences. Keycloak, in particular, stands out for its open-source nature, flexibility, and customizable deployment options, making it an attractive choice for organizations that require more control over their IAM infrastructure or have specific compliance requirements.

Keycloak’s no-cost model and extensive customization options can be particularly appealing to organizations with in-house development resources and expertise. For those with complex IDM requirements and authentication and authorization flows, Keycloak’s powerful features and extensibility allow for tailored solutions that meet unique organizational needs.

However, managing a complex Keycloak deployment can be challenging for some organizations. In such cases, Inteca Keycloak Managed Service offers a great solution to ease the burden of managing and maintaining your Keycloak infrastructure. With Inteca Keycloak Managed Service, you can take advantage of Keycloak’s powerful features while benefiting from the expertise of a dedicated team focused on your IAM needs.

This managed service can be particularly valuable for organizations that require a high level of customization and control over their IAM infrastructure, as it provides the benefits of an open-source solution like Keycloak while also offering the convenience of a professionally managed service.

By carefully evaluating these factors and aligning them with your organization’s specific needs and priorities, you can make an informed decision when choosing between Okta and Keycloak as your IAM solution. If your organization requires greater control, flexibility, and customization options, Keycloak – especially when combined with Inteca Keycloak Managed Service – may be the ideal choice to meet your IAM requirements.

Key Factors to Consider in Your Decision

When deciding between Okta and Keycloak, consider the following key factors:

  • Deployment model: cloud-based (Okta or Keycloak) vs. on-premise or hybrid (Keycloak)
  • Pricing model: subscription-based (Okta) vs. open-source with optional commercial support (Keycloak, Inteca Keycloak managed service)
  • Integration options: pre-built connectors (Okta, Inteca Keycloak managed service) vs. custom integrations (Keycloak)
  • Security and compliance: certifications and compliance features (Okta, Inteca Keycloak managed service) vs. open-source flexibility and control (Keycloak)
  • Support options: dedicated support team (Okta, Inteca Keycloak managed service) vs. community-driven support model (Keycloak)

By carefully evaluating these factors and aligning them with your organization’s specific needs and priorities, you can make an informed decision when choosing between Okta and Keycloak as your IAM solution.