As the push to migrate critical business applications to the cloud gains momentum, many organizations find themselves struggling to keep up with the complexity of managing user identity and controlling access to a suite of dispersed applications. Whether applications live in an on-premises data center, a hosted private cloud, a public cloud, or are delivered via a SaaS provider, organizations must deliver a simple, efficient single sign-on (SSO) experience.

Your users have become accustomed to providing credentials once when logging into a computer and having those credentials grant access to all applications. If moving applications off-premises requires re-authentication throughout the workday, users will become less productive and responsive—and your help desk workload will increase. In addition, having to remember a larger number of passwords may lead to users adopting even worse password management practices.

While the solution—working from a single user directory for all applications—may seem clear, the process of implementing it can be challenging. Organizations have three potential options, but only one of them delivers the seamless experience your users expect and your business requires.

Option A: Host all your applications on premises.

While this option offers the benefits of simplicity, it is not tenable for most organizations, which face growing pressure to move applications off-premises in order to capitalize on the cost-efficiencies, agility, and scalability of the cloud.

Option B: Migrate some applications to the cloud and manage identity using multiple services.

This option allows you flexibility in moving some of your applications off-premises, while hosting others in your data center. However, those modest gains in flexibility come at the cost of a great increase of complexity. Coordinating multiple identity and access management (IAM) solutions—such as on-premises Microsoft Active Directory, Azure Active Directory, AWS IAM, Keystone in OpenStack, and any number of individual identity and management services for your SaaS applications—decreases user productivity, demands more IT services, and can lead to security concerns.

Option C: Integrate your existing Active Directory with the BIG-IP platform.

The third option offers the best of both worlds, simplifying the complexities of IAM across dispersed application environments. By integrating your on-premises Active Directory with the BIG-IP platform, you can manage a single user directory for on-premises applications, cloud applications hosted with any provider, and any SaaS application that supports SAML. This unified solution delivers the agility of the cloud with the security and stability of an on-premises IAM solution. And that’s a good thing for your users—and your business.