Back in Oct 2010, Citrix announced plans of delivering a product that would make life easy for users and IT alike, by consolidating web and SaaS application authentication. The obvious benefits would be single sign-on for end users, and centralized user account creation and management for IT administrators. I’ve been using this system, rolled out within the organization for a few weeks now – and i cant imagine going back to a life of different passwords for different applications. All my applications are presented in one consolidated web portal, SSO’ed into by using my domain credentials.

The first obvious benefit is that one actually sees the list of applications for which the IT department has provisioned access, and then the real benefit is to be able to click the application’s icon, never having to dread the login screen, fight with my memory for the app’s password, waste time on the phone trying to reset my password with the support desk – This is application access nirvana.

In working with the internal teams, to roll out OpenCloud Access, the backend technology that makes it possible – i could literally see eyes lighting up, when IT administrators realized that this was an easy way to bring compliance and auditability to not just internal applications, but those SaaS applications that businesses went and subscribed to regularly. Any of us that has seen the sharp uptrend of SaaS adoption in the past few years knows that IT often gets left out of the rollout loop – because of the ease with which one can swipe a credit card and get access to an application. The trouble begins when corporate data starts getting posted out on the SaaS application, or when a user leaves an organization – and no one knows the list of applications the user had access to. Imagine a world, where all that user management control is put back in the hands of enterprise IT teams – so businesses can have the speed and flexibility of adopting SaaS and Cloud applications, yet not giving up on the enterprise integration and control that made application usage secure.

It’s always interesting seeing the positive reaction from people, when they see the variety of applications that can be delivered in this manner. The end user experience is really driven home when the ease with which users can access applications is seen for real. I thought i’d leave this note with a little bit of that experience, and then come back to revisit the technology that makes this happen in a future set of articles.

If you are going to be at San Francisco for Synergy 2011, don’t forget to attend the SaaS Identity Management session, for more on this topic.

Register here for Synergy 2011