Sentillion Aims for Low Cost, Ease-of-Use with SSO Product
September 11, 2007 Alex Woodie
Sentillion this week introduced a new single sign-on (SSO) product designed to be easier to install and more affordable than traditional SSO products. When it ships in November, the new offering, called expreSSO, will provide a centralized sign-on and authentication process that organizations can install in just five days for as little as $35 per user, according to Sentillion.
Since it was founded in 1998, Boston-based Sentillion has developed a strong reputation in the healthcare field. About 450 hospitals around the country have adopted the company’s flagship product, a sophisticated suite of identity and “context” management software called Vergence.
Over the years, Sentillion’s professional installers and developers have become adept at navigating the sundry sign-on and authentication mechanisms used by IT systems helping to automate the nation’s hospitals. Whether they’re based on Web, Windows, Unix, Linux, mainframe, or old AS/400 technology, there are few applications Sentillion hasn’t encountered over the years. Additionally, the product’s context management capability, which automatically finds and displays specific records as users traverse various applications, saving doctors and nurses time as they treat patients, has also set Vergence apart in the market.
However, while it’s highly respected in the industry, Vergence did have some drawbacks, admits Sentillion president Paul Roscoe. “The perspective of our customers is they value our pedigree, our heritage, but we’re almost the Ferrari of the market,” he says. “It’s a high-end product, but one they couldn’t afford. Now with expreSSO, we’re bringing the same heritage and pedigree, but it’s affordable.”
ExpreSSO, which is expected to ship in November, is aimed exclusively at simplifying the sign-on process for hospitals and other healthcare organizations with employees who must use multiple server-based applications. The product will be delivered as a hardened Linux-based appliance residing on Dell PowerEdge hardware.
ExpreSSO will work in much the same way as other SSO products–by authenticating a user once (via a combination of user names, passwords, and, if desired, biometric devices or smartcards) at the beginning of a session or a day, and then automatically signing the user onto other systems as needed. Organizations will recoup their costs by eliminating calls to the help desk when users forget their passwords, which costs anywhere from $25 to $50 or more for each call.
What sets ExpreSSO apart from other products on the market, including Sentillion’s own Vergence software, is the speed and ease with which organizations will be able to deploy and configure expreSSO, Roscoe says.
According to Gartner, it takes on average three to six months for an organization to complete a large-scale roll-out of SSO. With ExpreSSO, organizations will be able to install the product in about five days, according to Roscoe.
That incredibly quick installation is possible, Roscoe says, thanks to a new software configurations wizard that Sentillion has built into the product. The wizard features a graphical user interface that business analysts or systems administrators can use to walk users through the sign-in process. The wizard automatically generates the connectors that are called when a user attempts to use a new application. The connectors interface with the organization’s directory infrastructure to authenticate the user, and then enter the appropriate sign-in information for that particular application.
While expreSSO won’t feature the context a management capability that sets Vergence apart, it will feature single sign-off and user switching capabilities, which automatically log a user off a workstation when they sign onto another workstation. This is an important feature in the modern healthcare workplace, where HIPAA mandates good privacy protection.
In addition to a fast installation, Sentillion is promising a low price with ExpreSSO. Roscoe says the offering will cost between $30 and $55 per user, which is commensurate with Gartner’s industry SSO pricing.
Roscoe sees plenty of room for growth in the SSO market, which grew at a rate of 19 percent in 2006 to become a $128 million business, according to Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Single Sign-On, 2007, which provides an excellent assessment of the SSO market and its key players.
Evidence points to SSO being installed in about 25 percent of the hospitals in the country, Roscoe says. “We have a very large number of customers yet to deploy,” he says. “They’ve been sitting on the sideline a bit, waiting for a product that’s easy to deploy.” ExpreSSO is that product, he hopes.
For more information on Sentillion’s offerings, visit the company’s Web site at www.sentillion.com.