SaaS Terms Explained: Single Sign-On (SSO)

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SaaS Terms Explained: Single Sign-On (SSO)

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

SaaS Terms Explained: Single Sign-On (SSO)

Get SigmaOS Free

It's free and super easy to set up

SaaS Terms Explained: Single Sign-On (SSO)

Single Sign-On (SSO) is one of the most useful features in the increasing popularity of Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions. SaaS is a cloud-based service that provides access to software and applications over the internet, eliminating the need for on-premise installation. In this article, we'll explore SaaS and SSO in detail and explain how SSO works and how it can benefit your business.

Understanding SaaS and Single Sign-On (SSO)

SaaS, or Software as a Service, has become a popular software distribution model where applications are hosted and maintained by a third-party provider and accessed over the internet. With SaaS, organizations only pay for the software they use, making it a cost-effective and scalable solution. SaaS providers manage all aspects of the software, including maintenance, upgrades, and security, freeing up the user's time and resources.

However, SaaS solutions come with one major issue that can be solved by Single Sign-On (SSO) - the multiple logins to access different applications. With the increasing number of applications being used by organizations, users are required to remember multiple login credentials, which can be a daunting task.

What is SaaS?

SaaS is a cloud-based service where the provider hosts the software application and makes it available to the users via an internet connection. The provider manages the software and infrastructure, ensuring that the software is always up-to-date and secure. This allows users to focus on their core business functions, rather than worrying about maintaining and updating software.

One of the biggest advantages of SaaS is that it is cost-effective. With SaaS, organizations only pay for the software they use, making it a scalable solution that can grow with the organization. Additionally, SaaS solutions are accessible from anywhere with an internet connection, which is particularly useful for remote workers or those who travel frequently.

The Basics of Single Sign-On (SSO)

Single Sign-On (SSO) is a feature offered by many SaaS solutions that allows users to log in and access all of their authorized apps without having to enter multiple login credentials. With SSO, users can access all of their authorized applications from one central point, making it easier and faster to gain access to the needed software.

SSO works by allowing users to authenticate once and then use that authentication to access all of their authorized applications. This eliminates the need for users to remember multiple login credentials, reducing the likelihood of forgotten passwords and login issues.

SSO also improves security by reducing the number of login credentials that users need to remember. This reduces the likelihood of users writing down their login credentials or using weak passwords, which can compromise the security of an organization's data.

In conclusion, SaaS and SSO are two powerful tools that can help organizations streamline their software management and improve security. By using SaaS, organizations can access cost-effective and scalable software solutions, while SSO can eliminate the need for users to remember multiple login credentials, improving security and reducing login issues.

The Benefits of Implementing SSO in SaaS Applications

Enhanced User Experience

SSO provides a better user experience by allowing users to access all their authorized applications with only one login. This minimizes the time wasted on different login credentials, making the overall login procedure more convenient.

For instance, imagine a scenario where an employee needs to access several SaaS applications to complete a task. With SSO, the employee can log in once and gain access to all the necessary applications without having to enter their login credentials again.

This not only saves time but also reduces the likelihood of the employee forgetting their login credentials, which can be frustrating and time-consuming.

Improved Security

SSO offers better security for your business by reducing the risk of phishing attacks, brute force attacks, and credential stuffing. With fewer login credentials to manage, users are less likely to fall victim to fraudulent login attempts that may result in data breaches.

Moreover, SSO allows for stronger authentication methods such as multi-factor authentication, which adds an extra layer of security to the login process. This ensures that only authorized users can access sensitive data and applications.

Additionally, SSO provides better visibility and control over user access, allowing administrators to monitor and manage user activity in real-time. This helps to detect and prevent any suspicious activity, reducing the risk of security breaches.

Streamlined IT Management

With SSO, IT management becomes more efficient because administrators only need to manage one login per user. This eliminates the need to manage multiple login credentials, saving time, and reducing the likelihood of administrative errors.

Furthermore, SSO allows for easier onboarding and offboarding of employees. When an employee leaves the company, administrators can quickly revoke their access to all SaaS applications by disabling their SSO account, ensuring that they no longer have access to company data.

Reduced Password Fatigue

SSO can help reduce password fatigue by eliminating the need for users to remember multiple login credentials for different applications. With SSO, users only need to remember one set of login credentials, making it easier to access different SaaS solutions, reducing password fatigue.

This not only improves productivity by reducing the time spent resetting forgotten passwords but also enhances the overall user experience by reducing the frustration associated with managing multiple login credentials.

In conclusion, implementing SSO in SaaS applications offers numerous benefits, including enhanced user experience, improved security, streamlined IT management, and reduced password fatigue. It is a worthwhile investment for any business looking to improve productivity, efficiency, and security.

How Single Sign-On Works

Single Sign-On (SSO) is a technology that allows users to access multiple applications with a single set of login credentials. SSO is becoming increasingly popular among organizations as it simplifies the user experience and enhances security.

Authentication and Authorization

SSO uses authentication servers that communicate with identity providers to confirm the user's identity. Once the user is authenticated, the authorization server verifies whether the user has access to the requested applications. If authorized, the user is granted access to the application.

Authentication is the process of verifying a user's identity, while authorization is the process of granting or denying access to specific resources based on the user's identity and permissions. SSO streamlines these processes by allowing users to authenticate once and access multiple resources without having to re-enter their login credentials.

SSO Protocols and Standards

SSO protocols are established methods and rules for exchanging authentication and authorization data between entities. The most commonly used SSO protocols are Security Assertion Markup Language (SAML) and OpenID Connect (OIDC). These protocols help ensure secure communication between different SSO components.

SAML is an XML-based protocol that enables the exchange of authentication and authorization data between parties. SAML is widely adopted by enterprises and is supported by many SaaS applications.

OIDC is a modern protocol that uses JSON web tokens (JWTs) for authentication and authorization. OIDC is designed to work with mobile and web applications and is becoming increasingly popular among developers.

The Role of Identity Providers (IdPs)

Identity Providers (IdPs) are responsible for the authentication and authorization of users accessing SaaS applications. IdPs authenticate users through login credentials, such as usernames and passwords, and authorize access based on pre-configured policies.

IdPs can be either on-premises or cloud-based. On-premises IdPs are installed and managed within an organization's network, while cloud-based IdPs are hosted and managed by a third-party provider.

Cloud-based IdPs are becoming more popular as they offer greater scalability, flexibility, and cost-effectiveness compared to on-premises solutions. However, some organizations may prefer on-premises solutions for greater control and security.

In conclusion, SSO is a powerful technology that simplifies the user experience and enhances security. By using SSO protocols and identity providers, organizations can provide their users with seamless access to multiple applications while ensuring secure authentication and authorization.

SSO Integration with SaaS Applications

Native SSO Integration

SaaS applications with native SSO integration simplify the SSO integration process by providing in-built SSO capability. Native SSO integration eliminates the need for additional third-party software to manage SSO integration.

Third-Party SSO Solutions

Third-party SSO solutions provide the option to integrate SSO with custom-built or older SaaS applications that don't have native SSO integration. Third-party solutions can help synchronize user accounts and make it possible to manage SSO through a central console.

Custom SSO Implementation

Custom SSO implementation is a more complex solution that allows you to design and implement SSO in a way that suits your organization's requirements. Custom SSO implementation is not recommended for small and medium-sized businesses as it requires significant investment in time and resources.


SaaS and SSO are valuable tools that can help to streamline IT management, enhance user experience, and improve security. By understanding how SSO works and the benefits it offers, businesses can ensure that their SaaS solutions work efficiently and securely.