Single Sign On For Multiple SaaS Apps - InformationWeek

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9/25/2008
03:49 PM
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Single Sign On For Multiple SaaS Apps

A startup has launched a cloud service that offers identity management for SaaS apps. IT can enforce user authentication, manage compliance, and speed deprovisioning.

A startup has launched a cloud service that offers identity management for SaaS apps. IT can enforce user authentication, manage compliance, and speed deprovisioning.As enterprises get more comfortable with SaaS, their users may have access to multiple services, such as Salesforce, Workday, Google Apps, and online collaboration tools.

However, IT has little centralized control over user access and authentication to these applications. Symplified, which was founded in 2007, has created a cloud service that essentially acts as an identity proxy between enterprise users and SaaS applications.

Enterprises first create a Web portal for users to access the SaaS applications. Then IT configures user access policies and permissions in Symplified's interface. They can either upload all user credentials for SaaS applications to Symplified's data centers or deploy those credentials on a purpose-built router, called the Identity router, that stays on premises.

Enterprises then configure their DNS routers to point the Web portal to Symplified instead of the SaaS apps. When a user logs in to the portal, Symplified checks the user against access policies and forwards the appropriate credentials to the SaaS applications. This step remains invisible to the user -- by logging in to the Web portal, the user is immediately signed in to all SaaS applications he or she has access to. The user then simply clicks the link inside the portal to whichever SaaS app he or she wants to use.

Symplified continues to stay between the user and the SaaS application throughout the session. It can log all transactions, providing a robust audit trail of user activity.

The company says it also can integrate premises applications, such as Oracle, SAP, and SharePoint.

I think this offering is a natural fit for companies that have signed on to multiple SaaS providers. Most important, it centralizes control over access and permissions, and makes it much simpler to deprovision users that leave the company. This is critical given the sensitive information that often resides in these online applications.

However, potential customers must pound the service fairly hard to ensure they are comfortable turning over user credentials to a third party.

Symplified also becomes a failure point in the SaaS chain. If it goes down, so does employee access to the online apps--unless companies have opted to deploy the Identity router rather than use the full cloud service. CEO and co-founder Eric Olden says the company has built out a robust infrastructure among distributed data centers, but if Google and Amazon can go down, so can anyone.

With these caveats in mind, if your employees are migrating to the cloud in large numbers, Symplified is worth investigating.

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