Google Apps SAML single sign-on (SSO)

Posted by Edward Killeen on Wed, Jun 13, 2012

Google apps supports SAML 2.0.  That is basically all you need to know to achieve single sign on.  In our Whitepaper, Top 5 Federated Single Sign on Scenarios, federating with Google apps falls under three scenarios:

  • Scenario 1: Corporate login to Cloud Application
  • Scenario 2: Cloud login to Internal Application
  • Scenario 5: Identity as a Service (IdaaS) Hub

But all of these scenarios follow the same basic principle -- the user goes to the service provider (Google Apps) which sends a SAML request to the identity provider (in this case EmpowerID) which sends an encoded SAML response which the service provider accepts and then, boom, the user is logged in.

This is federation which means the user doesn't even necessarily need to know their service provider username and password.  Here's a nice diagram from Google's developer page on how this works:

Google Apps SAML single sign on (SSO)

Google apps is growing by leaps and bounds in the enterprise and there is no reason to not have federated single sign-on for your users.  Choosing your identity provider wisely gives your users an easy way to access their services without re-authenticating.

Of course, you are going to have other issues with Google Apps such as the fact that their Google Active Directory Sync (GADS) only synchronizes 5 attributes natively and doesn't address how to synch your AD groups over to Google Apps.  EmpowerID can help you solve that as well, but in the meantime, get your users logged in and federated!

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Tags: Single Sign-on (SSO), Identity and Access Management (IAM)