Single Sign On: What Is It, and Why do I Need It?

One of the single biggest challenges many IT services face in integrating cloud applications in working environments is identity management. In most cases, users create their own login and password information to access corporate cloud applications.

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But this can lead to a range of problems, such as the use of poor-strength passwords and the difficulty of denying future access when a particular user leaves the company.

Challenges of Cloud Single Sign-On

Cloud single sign-on presents a unique security risk for businesses because as the name suggests, it only involves a single set of login credentials.

As more and more companies opt for a multi-cloud strategy that involves a number of cloud service providers and applications, customers and employees are demanding SSO capabilities for convenience and ease of use. However, questions have been raised as to whether cloud SSO doesn’t compromise the security that businesses might otherwise be able to offer.

Cloud providers now face the challenge of having to force IT administrators and users to create multiple logins and passwords to uphold security standards. Otherwise, they have to figure out how to protect data through the federation of identity in the cloud. Of course, disabling a user and denying access is also more complicated when multiple logins and passwords are involved.

The Need For Cloud SSO Is Growing

More and more providers now face demand for secure cloud SSO capabilities. More and more businesses are currently adopting cloud-based services, which means that the challenge of cloud SSO isn’t going away any time soon. 

Take, for instance, the small- and medium-sized businesses that adopted cloud services back in 2011. Among the one-third of these businesses who identified as cloud users, they used an average of four services that were hosted in the cloud. This was already half a decade ago—the adoption of cloud services has since risen drastically. The average number of cloud-based services used by small- and medium-sized businesses is expected to double. 

So how can IT service providers help those businesses to manage and secure their services? The only solution is offering single sign-on portals which don’t compromise on security. Though most IT service providers agree that users shouldn’t have to manage multiple logins, not all of them have a simple solution. Some common cloud single-sign on providers include OneLogin, Okta, Ping Identity, Centrify, Symplified, Microsoft Azure Active Directory, Salesforce Identity, and Bitium.
 

Most of the service providers in the cloud identity management segment are startups that saw the need for single sign-on services and jumped on the opportunity to provide them to businesses. These services have certainly made it easier for IT departments to grant access and revoke permissions for cloud services, in addition to improving convenience for users who now only have to remember one login. Most are backed by substantial investments, which means they’re likely to grow in the coming years.

Though this market is growing rapidly, it’s hard to say which cloud SSO service providers will emerge on top. This, of course, prevents another problem for businesses who may eventually need to switch providers.

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