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3 Reasons Why Google Apps is the Only SSO Solution You'll Ever Need

David Politis

June 24, 2014

3 minute read

In his article appearing in Forbes this past Mondaycloud-computing-hand, Ben Kepes, a noted cloud evangelist, writes about the dangers of ever-expanding cloud application ecosystems. Kepes notes that while very specific applications can give organizations just the functionality they’re looking for, too many applications in use by one organization can lead to confusion and a lack of IT security. Kepes goes on to say that each application used by an organization requires a different login and password, has a different interface and provides a different user experience, causing confusion, lost productivity and data integration issues.

Citing a study by Intermedia and Osterman, Kepes notes that the average SMB is using 14 individual cloud applications and that each user interacts with over five. A study published by the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps this February points to similar findings with the average Google Apps administrator having 10 Google Apps Marketplace and 12 Chrome Web Store applications installed.

Kepes cites several problems that arise from the availability of too many point solutions – too much choice, too much to manage, too many logins, too much risk posed by simple passwords that can be easily breached. While Kepes notes that single sign on solutions from the likes of Okta and Ping Identity can help with at least the password management and security aspect of application sprawl, I don’t believe either solution, or any third-party SSO provider for that matter, will become the de facto identity provider. Instead Google and Microsoft will own this space.

If we focus specifically on organizations that have laid Google Apps as the foundation of their IT infrastructure, these companies can and should leverage the suite to its fullest – not only in terms of functionality offered, but also in terms of identity management. For instance, Google Apps provides everyone in your organization with a unique ID that can be used to access deeply integrated applications through various marketplaces. Through the Google Apps Marketplace, Chrome Web Store and Android Play Store, users can install applications with the click of a button using their Google Apps identity. More websites are also offering one-click log-in with Google identity. This not only simplifies the process, but adds greatly to IT security.

There a primarily three reasons why more organizations should rely on Google Apps credentials when authenticating products rather than seeking out third-party solutions:

  1. By authenticating applications with Google credentials, you essentially remove an entire layer of risk from your IT environment since users are no longer required to generate their own passwords.
  2. Third-party products developed to survey and scope out malevolent applications enable IT admins to blacklist suspicious applications and remove them from a domain entirely. By encouraging users to authenticate third-party applications with their Google credentials as often as possible, you’re increasing your ability to see and control those products.
  3. Using Google Apps credentials to login into an integrated third-party product is easy and natural for Google Apps users – these applications are just a click or two away from Gmail and Drive, where most users spend much of their time. Not to mention Drive connected applications, Chrome extensions and Docs & Sheets Add-ons make the experience virtually seamless.

Cloud application ecosystems can definitely be hard to navigate and if the wrong products are installed, they can even be detrimental. But, with the right tools, some user education and sufficient vetting, IT administrators can use cloud application ecosystems to build highly efficient, secure and integrated IT infrastructures.