I recently took a train with my kids from Philly to DC for a weekend of sight seeing activities. The Smithsonian, the many monuments, The White House, and ice cream. We left on Friday morning, so the passenger makeup was a mixture of tourists and business travelers. We settled in for the two-hour ride with laptops, iPads, and most importantly, headphones. Unfortunately for us, and the passengers in the immediate area, a young guy in the row next to us was having somewhat of melt down.

Apparently, he had an important meeting later that day and was having trouble logging into a couple of different applications to collect the necessary data…nothing like waiting to the last minute to work on a presentation! The issue, as best I could gather through my headphones, was he could not remember the many unique passwords required to access the different applications needed.

As a VP of Sales for a Managed Service Provider, I see all types of companies with all sorts of challenges. Recently, I actually had an owner of a company proudly proclaim that his company does not pay any monthly fees to any of his HW or SW vendors…as if this was a result of shrewd negotiations on his behalf. Upon further examination, we learned this was because all of these products were de-supported exposing his company, and employees to hackers and putting the business at risk. In another, at the request of the CFO, I was gathering info for an ROI analysis. The CIO in an effort to protect his turf told me that he does not calculate labor costs when formulating ROI’s and that part of the equation should be left out. Needless to say, the CFO did not share the same view.

Now, back to my commuter friend. Oddly, the challenge he, and his company were facing is not that uncommon. Companies make the initial move into the cloud with Office 365 and stop right there. With the proliferation of cloud-based tools and heavy marketing efforts from Microsoft, I’m always surprised when companys don’t utilize SSO products like Azure Active Directory. It has built in integration with Office 365 and can be deployed quickly and with minimal cost.

And the benefits are enormous:

  • Ease of Use: happy employees are productive employees
  • Identity Protection: helps block attacks and malicious behavior
  • Internal Management: easier to manage and support password policies
  • DR Fulfillment: many business continuity plans lack off site directory management. Azure can help bridge these gaps.

As we passed through Baltimore, he was still on the phone with his Help Desk going through the gyrations that are all too familiar. Instead of relaxing and reviewing his presentation. He was in full panic mode lashing out at the poor soul on the other end of the line. To me, SSO is so easy and affordable and not having it like toting around a typewriter, or the old style projectors that came in a suitcase with wheels.

When we departed the train, I glanced at the frustrated traveller next to me. I’m sure he was already formulating his story/excuse for his manager and prospect as to why his presentation was not complete. I can’t imagine he “nailed it”, so the opportunity costs of not securing a new client more than likely outweighed his travel expenses. Waiting to the last minute not withstanding, it seemed so easily avoidable by using an easy to install, affordable cloud-based SSO like Microsoft’s Azure Active Directory.

For those companies looking to improve efficiencies, I would start with an Office 365/Azure Active Directory project. There are dozens of qualified MSFT Partners that can assist should you lack the resources. You, and your employees will be glad you did.

By |June 7th, 2016|Managed Services|Comments Off on A peaceful train ride, SSO, and Azure Active Directory

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