Google Apps + OpenID = identity hub for SaaS

JUL 28, 2009
We're happy to announce that the Google OpenID Federated Login API has been extended to Google Apps accounts used by businesses, schools, and other organizations. Individuals in these organizations can now sign in to third party websites using their Google Apps account, without sharing their credentials with third parties.

In addition, Google Apps can now become an identity hub for multiple SaaS providers, simplifying identity management for organizations. For example, when integrated with partner solutions such as PingConnect from Ping Identity, the Google Open ID Federated Login API enables a single Google Apps login to help provide secure access to services like, SuccessFactors, and WebEX — as well as B2B partners, internal applications, and of course consumer web sites. See Ping Identity's post to learn more about their implementation and view the demo.

Another early adopter is, a SaaS project management vendor that implemented the Google Open ID Federated Login API directly to make it easier for any organization using Google Apps to sign up for and deploy Manymoon to their users:

In the Manymoon Login page, the user chooses to log in using a Google Apps account

The user types in his Google Apps email address. The user never gives away his Google Apps Account password to Manymoon.

The user is redirected to the Google Apps domain to approve sharing information with Manymoon.

Once approved, the user is redirected to Manymoon and is signed in and ready to work with selected accounts.

If you prefer an out-of-the-box solution, we have been working with JanRain, a provider of OpenID solutions that already supports the new API as part of their RPX product.

Supporting the API for Google Apps accounts is exciting news for the OpenID community, as it adds numerous new Identity Provider (IDP) domains and increases the OpenID end user base by millions. In order to allow websites to easily become Relying Parties for these many new IDPs and users, we defined a new discovery protocol. The protocol is designed to allow Relying Parties to identify that a given domain is hosted on Google Apps and to help provide secure access its OpenID Provider End Point. The current proposal is an interim solution, and we are participating in several standardization organizations, such as OASIS and the OpenID Foundation, to generate a next-generation standard. Since the current protocol proposal is not supported by the standard OpenID libraries, we provided an implementation of the Relying Party pieces at the Open Source project, Google is also offering a set of resources addressing the issues of designing a scalable Federated Login User Interface. You are welcome to visit the User Experience summary for Federated Login Google Sites page, where you can find links to demos, mocks, and usability research data.

You can find more details in our API and Discovery documentation, or join the discussions in the Google Federated Login API Group, where you can ask any question and get answers from other Identity Providers, Relying Parties and Google engineers.

The OpenID Federated Login Service is available for all Google Apps editions. However, it is disabled by default for the Premier and Education editions, and it requires the domain administrator to manually enable it from the Control Panel. We've enabled the service for our employees here at Google, and domain administrators — you can also enable it for your domain.

By Yariv Adan, Google Security Team