How To Implement Single Sign-On Using Active Directory

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In this article, we will go through what is Active Directory, how to implement Single Sing-on using this integration (illustrated in 4 simple steps) and what it means to implement single sign-on.

Single sign-on makes navigating through different applications a whole lot easier. This process raises the user experience, and it can work through your own apps as well as third-party apps. Implementing single sign-on through Active Directory allows you to cover a broad range of business applications and IT systems. 

Basically, single sign-on is when you only need to log into an application once. The credentials that you enter will automatically carry through to various other platforms, allowing you to do a once-off sign-on. This helps both internal employees and external users to remember their credentials, and enjoy a more seamless experience. 

Active Directory Integration

Microsoft Active Directory is the most popular authoritative user directory when it comes to most enterprises. This system is in charge of accessing basic IT services and is used to control wide-ranging business applications and IT services

When looking at SaaS applications, they are each developed with their own user directories. These are not integrated with Active Directory, which can make it difficult to manage user accounts across your Microsoft network. 

Single sign-on works by using a central server that all of the different applications will trust. Once you have logged in through this central server, each application gets redirected to the same server. This will access your login credentials, allowing you to only enter your details once. 

How To Implement Single Sign-On Using Active Directory

Here are some important steps to follow when implementing single sign-on using Active Directory. This is essential for smooth user experience. 

1. Make an Application Matrix

The first step for any single sign-on implementation is to identify all of the different applications that you want to roll out at different phases. Understand which apps you want to integrate with your identity providers.

2. Independent Active Directory Integrations

As Active Directory will be your delegated master, you will need to start integrating your applications with AD. Many applications come with their own AD integration tool. Otherwise, they often expose an API that allows you to custom integrate the application with AD. 

While this can be easy to use across a single vendor's different applications, it also has its challenges. It will require you to maintain these different technologies - increasing your IT costs. It will also require you to use different tools for each different application vendor. 

3. Third-Party Vendors

A number of vendors have emerged that offer a single platform for integration with Active Directory. This single point of integration can be used across all of your applications to provide a complete and simple solution. If you find the right option, it should integrate all of your applications with AD through one central system.

4. Use Microsoft AD FS

Microsoft Active Directory Federation Services is a platform that can handle single sign-on for many applications outside of the firewall. This platform is flexible for your needs, and it can be a strong solution. However, it does require plenty of additional work for it to run smoothly as a complete solution. 

Implementing Single Sign-On

Single sign-on across various applications is a must for an enjoyable and refined user experience. If you are going to use Active Directory as your chosen master, then getting each of your applications onboard can seem a challenge. 

If you are wondering how to implement single sign-on using Active Directory, the solutions listed above will be sure to help applications from all kinds of different vendors to find the answer. 

Carlo Belloni

Project Manager and SEO Specialist at Kisi

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