In the era of cloud computing and SaaS, implementation of single-sign-on (SSO) solutions to ease access to multiple apps has been an elusive goal. But the benefits are there for those SMBs and other organizations that are able to pull this off—as well as for the channel pros who can partner with the bevy of vendors coming to market with packages that incorporate SSO functionality.
SSO is an important element of effective identity and access management (IAM) programs in improving employee productivity and reducing desk costs, says a first quarter 2016 report titled Identity and Access Management from Forrester Research Inc. According to the report, “Good IAM processes and tools help reduce employee and customer frustration by letting users log in faster, and, by using single sign-on, for instance, not be challenged for authentication into various applications.”
Providing users with one-click access to multiple apps through the use of a single password solves a number of productivity-related problems. SSO eliminates the need for remembering numerous username and password combinations, and lessens the need for help desk resources when names and passwords are forgotten and need to be reset.
Also, many of the SSO solutions on the market today make it easier to handle changes as individuals move on and off the lists of authorized users. And perhaps most significant, SSO provides faster access to cloud-based apps, an important feature in today’s increasingly SaaS-oriented computing world.
That said, a major challenge in implementation of SSO solutions has been finding efficient means through which to grant one-click, cloud-based app access to end users who are working with multiple systems and device types, and at the same time authenticate their identity. “What has made implementation so difficult is the historic growth of disparate systems,” says Gregg Kreizman, research vice president, Gartner Inc., “with the accumulation of all the different application architectures adding layers of complexity.”
Widely utilized SSO technologies in today’s market, says Kreizman, include web access management (WAM) tools that provide authentication, SSO, and session management for web-architected apps within a network. “Federated SSO,” typically part of a WAM package or a related, integrated product, takes things a step further, using Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) that enables cross-domain web SSO, he explains. Meanwhile, Identity as a Service (IDaaS) is the latest, greatest, and growing authentication infrastructure, says Kreizman, providing cloud-based services built, hosted, and managed by third-party service providers.
SSO is most often offered as part of a larger suite of identity management services. SSO solutions include: