What is a Single Sign-On Solution and How Does It Work?

If you’re in the enterprise industry, “single sign-on” is a term that you’ve probably heard quite a few times. And not only is it something you should check out in more detail, but a single sign on for the enterprise can actually do quite a lot for your company. That being said, let’s get into what SSO is, how it works, and why you should be looking into implementing it if you haven’t done that yet.  

What is a Single Sign-On Solution and How Does it Work?

The gist of it is that a single sign-on solution replaces the multiple long credentials with a single set that you can use in multiple applications. The goal is simple – boost security, streamline the users’ experience, and make everything more convenient. It does things very well, and it’s actually surprisingly simple to implement in many enterprises that use multiple applications.

At its core, SSO solutions are based on trust. Yes, they really are that simple, but do a lot. There is a relationship between the service provider, which is the enterprise’s application, and the identity provider, which is the SSO solution. There is a secure certificate that changes hands, which carries all the necessary information.

First, the user accesses the service provider, which is the application (or website). The application (or website) then sends the user’s information – such as the email address, to the SSO service, which acts as an identity provider. This is known as token-based authentication, and the certificate contains the users’ data.

Then, the SSO, the identity provider, checks whether or not the user has previously been authenticated. It doesn’t have to be for that specific app – it could be for a different one made by the same enterprise, that’s the beauty of SSO. If the authentication is successful, another token returns the approval to the service provider.

Once the service provider receives the token that states the authentication has been successful, the user is granted access.

The difference is the second step. Without SSO, the user would need to be authenticated for the exact app or website, while with SSO, all it takes is for the SSO provider to have a relationship with the website – and they’ll approve the authentication.

Why Your Enterprise Needs It

If you’re still debating whether or not you need it, let’s briefly discuss some of the benefits you get with SSO. That should help you make up your mind.

Security is arguably the main talking point here – but there are two sides to the coin. A lot of people will make the (very valid) argument that using a single set of login credentials is the same as using the same password for all of your logins, which isn’t the best idea. That being said, a single set of credentials gives you the option to make your password as difficult as you want it to.

Remembering a single complex password is a lot easier than remembering a hundred of them, and you won’t need to write it down or use something like a password manager.

But it’s not just security, there’s also the productivity boost. Within any enterprise, one of the main reasons people contact support is to ask for a password reset. That wastes both your employees’ time, and your support team’s time, and they have more time to focus on things that they actually need to take care of.

And last but not least, there is the ease of adoption. We’re willing to bet that, as an enterprise, you’ve had more than one situation where you gave up on an app or service just because it was too difficult to make users sign up to? It happens more than you think, and it’s the same thing with any type of app, whether that’s one that helps productivity or adds convenience, or one that will downright increase your enterprise’s ROI. This kind of situation actually goes against the core goals of technology, which are to make our lives easier.

Opting for a single sign-on solution will significantly decrease the chances of that happening. If a user or employee needs to log on in the new app, the SSO provider will authenticate them because they’ve already logged on to a different app – that’s why it’s there. And it simplifies things a lot.

Just Go for It!

When everything is said and done, you should certainly go for a single sign-on solution. We would say it should be first on the list right before having more than one internet provider to avoid problems caused by internet outages. Yes, it’s another thing to implement in your enterprise, but when you consider all the benefits you’re getting, not only is it worth it, but you’re missing out on quite a bit by not implementing it. The only thing that’s left to do is come up with an implementation strategy and choose the SSO solution to go for. 

A blogger by passion and working as a digital marketing manager in one of the leading digital marketing agencies of USA. Also, loves music, travelling, adventure, family and friends.