Critical Mass: One Key Opens Many Doors

September 27th, 2013   /     /   Smarter Identity

This article by William Terdoslavich first appears in SaaS in the Enterprise.

The work day is young, and you will probably be logging in another 10 or 20 times just to get your job done.

There has got to be a better way.

This pretty much describes what work life was like at Critical Mass, a global digital advertising agency based in Calgary, Alberta. Workers there relied on Microsoft’s Active Directory to get into just about everything in the corporate IT system.

This inconvenience was endured until last November/December. Critical Mass was going to implement a company-wide file sharing system, using Box as its SaaS provider. “We didn’t want a bottleneck provisioning and managing access to Box,” Doug MacKay, director of information systems at Critical Mass, told us. There had to be a way for users to access the corporate IT system just once.

The company pitted two SaaS solutions in a head-to-head test to see which would work best with its environment, which was 95 percent based on Macs running OS X. The winner proved to be OneLogin, which interacted seamlessly.

Given OneLogin’s ease of implementation, however, the SaaS app changed the way IT is perceived at Critical Mass. “In one stroke, IT ceased being about control and more about enablement,” MacKay said. “We ceased slowing down access to data. We’re less a part of a problem and more a part of a solution.” Access was now streamlined, automated, and policy-driven.

Box is not the only SaaS solution being used at Critical Mass. The company also relies on Concur for its expense reporting, as well as several other SaaS solutions MacKay declined to disclose. OneLogin became the string that bound all these solutions together.

OneLogin also gives MacKay more than just a way of offering workers a single password for all apps (single sign-on). Access can be assigned to each employee, limiting their reach to nothing more than the work assigned to them. Any data outside of their project responsibility is walled off from their access. This becomes especially beneficial in the realm of mobile devices and BYOD.

Smartphones forced a major shift at Critical Mass, spurring IT to rapidly implement a policy and distribute passwords very quickly. “We ensured continuous encryption on the device,” MacKay said.

Tablets were not widely adopted by employees, with the usual mobile combo being smartphone and corporate laptop. And in this case, the smartphone was used more to consume data rather than create it, accessing email, Box for file sharing, and the social-business intranet.

Should an employee lose his own smartphone, his account could be shut down to prevent unwarranted access to data. “The phone is not being bricked because it is their device,” MacKay added. Only a device that is paid for by the company is “bricked” if lost or stolen.

Implementing OneLogin has yielded an economy of effort at Critical Mass. The company has about 800 employees, supported by 16 IT people. To accomplish the same mission relying on an in-house IT solution would require adding six more people to the IT department, Mackay said. “It would be an order of magnitude more complicated,” he said, and “it would take six to nine months to implement anything.”

“Going forward, we will go with external SaaS as appropriate for our company,” MacKay continued. Some combination of internal and external cloud is on the horizon, with OneLogin tying it all together, he explained. With Calgary having just suffered a hundred-year flood, a high availability cloud solution impervious to disaster has become more attractive to Critical Mass, he added.

About the Author

Elias Terman is a seasoned product and marketing leader with over 20 years of technology marketing experience including IT Security, enterprise software, and SaaS startups in the U.S. and abroad. Prior to OneLogin, he ran product marketing for SnapLogic, where he helped establish them as the leading independent cloud integration vendor. At OneLogin, He is responsible for product and partner marketing, as well as press and analyst relations.

View all posts by Elias Terman