Does Single Sign On Help SaaS Management?

Ekaterina Mizrobova

Single Sign On (SSO) is a user-authentication method, when a user signs into one cloud application and is logged in to other SaaS apps automatically. SSO provides easy-access to business critical SaaS accounts and saves time. Besides, SSO minimizes chances to forget your password and, therefore, reduce the workload of an IT help desk and its costs. Thus, employees don’t need to remember hundreds of passwords and the IT help desk save efforts on answering numerous calls from those who don’t remember their passwords.

Some also believe that SSO helps SaaS management by tracking SaaS app logins, thinking it will help understand SaaS web app usage. It would be like a life raft to CIOs – the simplest and cheapest SaaS management tool. But managing cloud applications is not that simple.

First of all, SSO thacks only logins and does not provide any useful data on the actual SaaS usage. For instance, based on the SSO collected info you won’t be able to tell what features of a particular SaaS app were used. Moreover, login is made simultaneously in all the associated SaaS products, even those that may never be used, which further distorts the picture. Let alone the fact that SSO provides information only on the apps that are known and managed by the IT dept. This means that shadow IT, or phantom IT, remains in shadow. And according to Cisco, employees use 15 times more cloud services than CIOs know of. Another problem with SSO is time out. Often employees have to perform Single Sign On every several hours, thus making the number of logins excessive and distorting SaaS metrics.

Finally, SSO data do not give you any clues on Terms of Service (ToS) provisions. No SaaS management is comprehensive and no software compliance can be achieved without this information. SaaS products are often priced based on the set of features used and number of users. Thus without ToS information and data on actual SaaS usage, you won’t be able to achieve license compliance, negotiate better terms or optimize purchased entitlements.

If you want be sure that your organization is license compliant, that SaaS usage is optimized, software costs are reasonable, and security risks are low, you need more complex SaaS management software than SSO. You need total visibility for your business’s cloud software apps, which can be provided by modern SaaS Web Usage Monitoring Solutions. Being a part of a complex Software Asset Management (SAM) System, these tools can track SaaS subscriptions, track actual SaaS usage and help you identify any unused, underused or abandoned licenses.

Single Sign On is aimed to make logins into multiple corporate applications more convenient and quicker, and not to optimize their usage, cut costs or improve security. If the latter were your objectives when adopting SSO, you took the wrong path.

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