How Alfresco Single Sign-On (SSO) Benefits Enterprise-Level Business

Centralized login via Alfresco Single Sign-On (SSO): Is tech getting ahead of security or is it the perfect combination of safety and convenience? Learn how Alfresco SSO works and decide if it is the right solution for your company.

The number of user accounts in the workplace is growing.

Modern enterprise employees accesses more than 5 applications in a single day. Some workers are using over 20 different logins for work platforms.  With numbers that high, something called password fatigue sets in. Password fatigue is a term coined to describe the stress felt by workers when attempting to recall a multitude of passwords throughout the day. For the average worker, passwords and platform overload can become an obstacle that hinders their productivity. Password fatigue also refers to the frustrating phenomenon of attempting to re-set a password only to have it rejected multiple times as unsuitable, not meeting the character requirements, and being identical to your previous password.

These aggravating experiences are geared to be a thing of the past. For enterprise-level businesses that use the Alfresco enterprise management system, Alfresco Single Sign-On technology or Alfresco SSO is a godsend. Though it may be convenient to have everything accessible with a single sign-on, does that mean it’s less secure? Here are the basics of SSO and why it might be a solution for your company.

What is Alfresco Single Sign-On (SSO)?

Alfresco Single Sign-On is a centralized login system that allows people with multiple platforms to log into all those platforms with one set of credentials (e.g. a single username and password combination, smart card, one-time password token or biometric device).

Alfresco SSO takes care of the authentication portion of accessing each platform in a single step. The systems that are accessed using Alfresco SSO can be related (i.e. integrated) or completely independent, as long as they are being used by the same enterprise.

In general, single sign-on works by having a central domain that handles authentication using one set of login credentials. Once the initial authentication is performed, the identity of the user has been securely established. This allows the SSO tool to acknowledge the login session and share it with a number of secondary domains. SSO unifies disparate applications to create a networked infrastructure that looks relatively uniform to the user.

On-premise SSO technology has existed for over two decades. Web-based SSO emerged  a number of years ago when Web 2.0 made multiple applications a norm for the everyday worker.  The average number of passwords per person has skyrocketed in the last ten years from 6.5 passwords in 2007 up to 27. With software as a service (SaaS) on the rise, that number continues to increase.

Improved User Experience (UX)

SSO was first widely implemented for social networking sites and Web 2.0 sites that required a higher level of interactivity between platforms or in cases where fledgling social media companies were buying up competitors. These sites attract large numbers of users because they typically value the end user experience (UX) above technical aspects of the platform. SSO eliminated password fatigue in these cases, improving the UX and curbing customer alienation. As the primary interaction between user and branded platform, enterprises that employ Alfresco SSO are giving their employees the benefit of the same kind of UX improvement within their daily work environment.

Reduced Costs

SSO also reduces costs for enterprises. Alfresco SSO can reduce SaaS spend by keeping track of which employees use SaaS apps and for how long. This gives the enterprise the ability to maximize their subscriptions as well as break down usage costs to the departmental level and create hyper-accurate budgets. This drill-down typically reduces SaaS licensing costs by up to 30%.

The other area where SSO reduces organizational costs is with IT. According to Gartner, up to 50% of Help Desk calls are merely password resets. IT spends a disproportionate amount of time on baseline user problems caused by password fatigue. Forrester Research estimates the average cost of a single password reset at a whopping USD 70. By eliminating these issues with Alfresco SSO, the enterprise’s Help Desk staff can be more productive.

Increase Efficiency

Alfresco single sign-on eliminates redundant processes for Alfresco users. At the enterprise level, the IT team requires strict password policies. Multiple logins, temporary lock-outs, and password resets from the Help Desk take an excessive amount of time. All that login time means productivity drops and employees are getting paid for time that they are unable to complete tasks. SSO means only having to remember one set of login credentials, less chance of a failed login, and reduced time on multiple logins. Work tasks are the central priority instead of system access issues.

The on boarding and off boarding of employees also becomes a streamlined process with HR only chasing down one access point instead of many.

Enhanced Security

There are two security issues solved by SSO. The first fixes an issue created by password fatigue. Due to the number of logins, users often resort to their own methods of remembering login credentials. For most employees this means written or typed lists of login credentials kept on the local machine. For an enterprise trying to limit unauthorized access, this is clearly a security risk. Alfresco SSO eliminates the need for employees to note down passwords in an unsafe way.

The second issue addresses the myth that SSO weakens security. Logically, people assume that reducing the access to system data from many to one single entryway makes the data more vulnerable to attacks. The reality is that employees with multiple entryways are known to regularly engage in unsafe behavior that endangers system security as a way to deal with password fatigue. With Alfresco SSO, one strong password that remains confidential and easy to remember ensures that the main door of entry is secure.


Compliance is another area that benefits from single sign-on. Organizations in highly-regulated industries, enterprises concerned with ISO, and companies governed by HIPAA and SOX can benefit from Alfresco SSO. First, it gives companies control over user access to certain information and makes it easier to build permissions control into their networks. Second, password change policies are implemented on a global basis in a single step. Finally, it encourages employees to use secure file transfer systems that protect sensitive data because it simplifies access to platforms the company wants employees to utilize. Without SSO, employees often try to find an easier workaround. For example, mortgage lenders often send private data via email instead of using secure transmission portals because email is open on their desktop all day while portals require another step to access. SSO encourages employee buy-in by removing the obstacles that often result in underuse and wasted security investments on the part of the enterprise.

With improvements to UX, spending, efficiency, security, and compliance, it’s easy to see why enterprise companies are on-board with single sign on. Alfresco SSO keeps workers happy by making the workplace accessible and letting employees perform their duties without hassle.

To read more about accessibility and usability features that benefit enterprise systems,  visit the Alfresco addons descriptions at Skytizens.

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