Anyone using a business computer would most likely remember using usernames and passwords ever since they started using their systems. Indeed, the most accepted form of authentication hasn’t changed in several decades. While that was fine as long as an individual had a single set (or at least manageable combinations) of usernames and passwords, the exponential growth in the number of computing resources and applications has led to a corresponding explosion in the username-password combinations. While browsers today are capable of storing these details, neither is it safe nor an efficient method for accessing online resources. This problem can be resolved by implementing an authentication method that allows users to access multiple applications with a single set of credentials. That is exactly what Azure Active Directory Single Sign-On (SSO) does.
What is Azure AD Single Sign-On (SSO)?
Azure AD SSO enforces an authentication process in which users can access several applications using a single set of credentials. When an organization enables SSO, its employees use a single username and password to access corporate devices and applications along with their data and resources that are stored either on their network or the cloud. Additionally, implementing Azure AD SSO ensures that all users have the same consistency, comfort, and security in terms of experience while accessing corporate resources. Implementing organization-wide Azure AD SSO improves productivity, increases security, and enhances the scalability of application and resource management.
Features of Azure AD SSO
Azure AD SSO revolutionizes the way authentication is done with its unique features.
Advanced Authentication Scheme
Reducing the number of username-password combinations to a single set means that employees have to remember (if at all) a maximum of one set of username and password regardless of the number of apps, devices, and systems they use. This, in turn, results in fewer sign-in prompts and a more seamless sign-on experience.
Centralized Application Management
While Azure AD SSO can be used to sign in to thousands of applications offered on the software as a service (SaaS) model through the marketplace, it can also be used to manage custom applications deployed on Azure as well as on-premises servers.
Automates Account Management
Application signups and exits are reduced to a few clicks. It is possible to grant one-click access to popular applications like Workday in addition to Office 365 applications and Azure services lowering operational complexity, improved productivity, and better compliance.
Provides Self-Service Tools
With self-service tools, users have greater control over their accounts. Certain activities like password resets can be done by employees themselves rather than depending on IT admins to initiate the process.
How Organizations Can Use Azure AD SSO?
Azure Active Directory single sign-on is one of the most important access management capabilities of Azure AD that adds versatility to the service. There are several ways in which organizations can benefit from Azure AD SSO.
Modernize Legacy Infrastructure
Legacy infrastructures rely on outdated authentication policies. Azure AD SSO extends the capability to use a single set of username and password to connect all applications regardless of where they are hosted. Identities can be verified using both newer and legacy authentication protocols such as Kerberos, NTLM, Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP), LDAP, SSH and header-based, and form-based authentication.
Optimize User Experience
Organizations can deploy applications for their employees and end-users using a centralized and branded portal. Not only does this provide complete visibility to user-access permissions and other vital details to the management but it also streamlines application delivery.
Improve User Account Provisioning
Azure AD SSO facilitates in automatically creating user identities and roles for applications, management of this data, and their subsequent deprovisioning. This feature is useful for providing just in time access to applications and data. Account provisioning is made fast and efficient with pre-integrated connectors for several applications.
Manage Risks Better
Azure AD SSO is seldom used as a standalone capability. It is used in combination with other Azure AD security features such as multi factor-authentication (MFA) and Conditional Access. This helps organizations enhance their overall compliance and risk management capabilities. Azure AD SSO helps in improving the consistency in risk policy implementation.
Enhance Organization-Wide Productivity
Azure AD SSO reduces the number of sign-in prompts helping applications deliver a less obtrusive environment for accessing their features and data. There are fewer distractions and the right people can access the right applications and data at the right time without waiting for permission from admins if the provisioning is done in such a manner.
How to Implement Azure AD SSO?
Azure AD SSO is an integral part of Microsoft Online Services. It is available by default for pre-integrated SaaS applications. However, the design of the implementation varies with the business capabilities required for each organization.
Federated single sign-on with Azure AD
Applications that support modern protocols such as SAML 2.0, WS-Federation, or OpenID Connect, can use federated single sign-on with Azure AD for identity management. This method offers all the capabilities for Azure AD SSO and redirects application users to Azure AD for authentication rather than prompting for password on every login attempt.
For legacy applications that employ older protocols, application password storage and replay can be managed using a web browser extension or a mobile app. While this method depends on the existing sign-in process of the application, admins can manage passwords on behalf of users without them have to store or remember it.
Apps4Rent Can Help with Azure AD SSO
While most users of Microsoft Online Services are already using Azure AD SSO, not all businesses have exploited its full capabilities. There are restrictions on the number of directory items that can benefit from Azure AD SSO with the Free Azure AD plan. Additionally, other features such as Conditional Access and Identity Protection that complement Azure AD SSO are available only with premium P1 and P2 plans and certain Microsoft 365 subscriptions. As a Microsoft CSP, Apps4Rent helps businesses identify, procure, and implement the right solutions for their business with 24/7 phone, chat, and email support. Contact us today to know more about Azure AD SSO and the best prices for its licenses.