Let's take my favorite and most frequent use case: the wild world of Salesforce.com! You want your users to be able to authenticate into salesforce without having to re-enter credentials or, worse yet, enter a completely different set of credentials. So you federate with Salesforce.
Your user authenticates into the network using either her Active Directory or EmpowerID credentials. She clicks on a link to salesforce and it quickly and invisibly redirects to the EmpowerID Secure Token Service which sends a SAML token to Salesforce which then accepts it and our intrepid user finds herself in Salesforce authenticated and ready to do work. Without entering any additional passwords or user names. Like magic, sweet federated magic.
The trick to this is your user needs a salesforce account. And EmpowerID (or any other identity provider) needs to know what that user's account is. Without automated cloud provisioning, do you manually provision each account? Do you have each user claim their account to register it? Do you put users in AD groups to establish access and hope against all hope that that group stays accurate?
Or do you integrate cloud provisioning with cloud SSO? This way, users are provisioned and de-provisioned...automatically associating EmpowerID (or some other identity store) accounts with the Salesforce account? Giving them the SSO experience when they should have it and removing that capability when they should not. And, reducing the steps needed for users to get this capability.
So, what about existing users? Do you have each user go and claim their account? Users hate to follow IT instructions, we all know that. So let's inventory salesforce. All you need is a key (such as email address, conveniently your salesforce user name) and you can associate each of your corporate accounts to their salesforce accounts.
And the result, cloud SSO. And made all the easier because of the connection between cloud SSO and cloud provisioning. I have written extensively about this, about the connection between all aspects of identity and access management. You need your provisioning to interact with your access governance to interact with your authentication to interact with your password management.
IAM is a complex beast to slay, especially with the newer cloud aspects of today's world. Having a complete platform that can be implemented in phases but still work together solves this and makes this beast much more manageable.
Let's start with the cloud. Let's get your cloud SSO and your cloud provisioning working together. Take a look at the federated SSO whitepaper and then schedule a demonstration of how EmpowerID will get your users provisioned and SSO'd to the cloud.