SaaS provisioning

Jackson Shaw makes the point that the last thing that most enterprises need is to take on is provisioning their SaaS identities when they are still struggling with their internal identities:

We have a standard called “Services Provisioning Markup Language” (SPML) which was specified to help provision identities via a web service. Does your SaaS vendor support that standard? I’ll bet they do not! What do you do then? I’ve met with hundreds of customers over the years and many are still struggling with provisioning inside the enterprise! Throw in SaaS provisioning – via some hairbrained interface because the vendor doesn’t support SPML – and it only adds to the organization’s identity management complexity.

Of course having an SPML capability in a SaaS is not going to be much help if the enterprise doesn’t have a provisioning system in place with SPML support. SPML support is not widely available in provisioning systems (although there are a few that have it out of the box).

Ashraf Motiwala echoes the point and also points out that enterprise are going to want to leverage not only their internal provisioning systems, but also their workflow and role management systems as well:

Recreating a workflow engine, role management, delegation, etc. in the cloud seems to just create redundancy for these capabilities, especially for organizations that have already dropped a few dollars to deploy an IdM solution on premise. Why would I drop my existing investment here? (Perhaps there is a compelling case, but I just don’t see it.) I would much rather find a solution that proxies the SPML requests from my existing provisioning solution that handles all the complexities (or “hairbrained interfaces”) for the SaaS apps on the backend!

The upshot is that SaaS vendors should be rolling out SPML interfaces to their services. But just like with the traditional enterprise software vendors, they most likely won’t do it until the customers demand it. Until it becomes a selection criteria it probably won’t happen.

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One response to “SaaS provisioning

  1. I agree, and this is one of the issues that Gluu is setting out to address. By creating a community in Gluu, SaaS providers can enable their customers to pick the IdM solution that fits their needs, be it 1) SPML 2) Manual delegated administration or 3) synchronization with Gluu’s Virtual Appliance. Gluu is in alpha release. Here are some slides: http://tinyurl.com/gluuslides01
    We’ll be demoing at Catalyst in San Diego next month.

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