If you're using traditional approaches to user management, such as Active Directory, it's time to shop for an identity and access management service that supports SaaS and mobile access.
Companies of any significant size -- even small teams -- are probably using several SaaS vendors. As more and more business processes shift to the web, that number is just going to continue to go up.
Here are five reasons why using a service to manage those is a good idea.
Monitoring Vendors: Services like Dropbox and Box.net are so cheap and easy that departments and even individual employees can quickly sign up and start using them without any IT knowledge. In fact, many of these services start out free, so there isn't even a purchase order involved. Reporting these vendors to IT takes time and effort, and there's always the risk that IT will say, "No!"
With centralized identity and access management, however, employees get a clear and visible benefit. They don't have to remember new passwords and websites. Instead, they can use their existing employee portal and access everything in one place.
Deprovisioning: Let's say you've got a team of employees using a cloud-based storage solution, or project management solution, or web-based calendar. And one of those employees -- unbeknownst to the others -- is fired. Do you still want them to have access to the shared files, project sites, or calendars?
If they signed up for their accounts as individuals, they will continue to retain that access. And if they signed up as part of your company's business account, without an automated management solution, a business manager will have to cut off their access manually, which means that they have to keep track of terminations.
This isn't much of an issue in small companies where a managers knows everyone personally. But it quickly gets to be too much to keep up with in larger firms.
Better security: Each new cloud-based application requires a user name and password. Who has time to remember them all? Many employees use the same user names and passwords everywhere, or make just minor changes.
In addition, each application has a different amount of security. Some have second-factor authentication -- sending a one-time password by text message, say, when a user logs in from an unfamiliar device. Others don't.
A breach in any one service could provide hackers with user names and passwords that they can try against other services. A single sign-on process allows a company to ensure a consistent and secure login environment for all applications.
Consolidate and save: Buying in bulk can save a company money, but requires a centralized purchasing decision. With identity and access management, you know which services are being used, and by how many employees.
Instead of each employee or department buying their own subscriptions, you can make a single, large purchase, allowing you to negotiate better terms with the vendor.
In addition, if you find that your employees are using the same service from multiple vendors, you can standardize on one, allowing even larger bulk purchases. Plus, standardization means easier collaboration across the enterprise since everyone is using the same storage provider, project management tool, or customer relationship management platform.
Save money on licenses: Technology evolves quickly, and it seems that we get new tools and services each day. The vendors tempt us with must-have features and make it easy to switch to their platform. But do we always remember to cancel the old service when we leave?
I, personally, have email accounts with Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, and for all I know, there's still an old AOL account hanging around somewhere. I don't care, because I don't have to pay for any of them.
According to a recent survey by IDC and Flexera Software, at a majority of companies, 11 percent or more of software spending is wasted because the user licenses are not being used.
Centralizing logins allows a company to keep track of how much individual applications or services are being used or whether they are used at all.