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Website Single Sign On (SSO) Solutions

Chris Osterhout SVP of Strategy
Published on May 24, 2013

Configuring a Single Sign On solution for your website is a great way to gain user adoption, enhance user experience, and gain the business intelligence you need.

One of the most common requests that we receive from clients when discussing the technical requirements for their website is the ability to connect multiple independent systems together with a single login. This is commonly referred to as a Single Sign On (SSO) solution. Most of the larger enterprises have several different systems that they use every day to run their business such as a ERP, CRM, CMS, AMS, PIM, etc., and it becomes imperative for long term maintenance, tracking, usability, and security that all of these systems are controlled by one centralized authentication solution.

How does SSO apply to websites?

Let's assume that your website has a password protected area or a member portal where you want to serve up information to the website visitor, but only after they are logged into the site. Let's also assume that you want to make sure that those individual website visitors with membership accounts are tied into your backend CRM or AMS so you can ensure they should have access to certain private website content. When a website visitor logs into your site, it would be great if you could also log them into your AMS and allow them to update their contact information or billing records, register for conferences, etc. This would really cut down on the time your staff needs to maintain these records by providing a self service option to the logged in website visitors.

How does SSO benefit website visitors?

There are a lot of benefits for website visitors and website owners, including a reduction in the need for website visitors to reset their passwords on several different systems. This will reduce the calls to help desks about lost or forgotten passwords since they won't need to remember several different passwords for the same company website or services. By removing some of these day-to-day frustrations that website visitors encounter, will produce a better user experience and higher website adoption.

What SSO is not

Single Sign On is not a system that requires you to make password changes on all of the disconnected systems the SSO solution is connected to. For example, if the website is supposed to automatically sign on to two other systems, but every time you change your password on one of those systems you can no longer sign into the website, it is not SSO. A true SSO solution streamlines the sign-on process, integrating each connected system into one login and password and ensuring that any password changes are reflected throughout.

How complicated is SSO to implement?

Implementation of a Single Sign On solution for a website can be complicated or straightforward depending on the technologies used to do so. As web technology has advanced, there are many ways to implement SSO based on the business and functional requirements for the website. Here are a few ways which Diagram has implemented SSO:

  • Active Directory - Ideal for intranets
  • OAuth
  • SAML
  • Web Services Methods - A lot of ERP, CRM, and AMS systems have authentication web services which can be utilized to authenticate a user against those systems

Configuring a Single Sign On solution for your website is a great way to gain user adoption, enhance user experience, and gain the business intelligence required to continually outperform your website's Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). If you are thinking about implementing a Single Sign On solution but aren't sure how to get started, give us a call or shoot us an email. We will be happy to point you in the right direction.