In 1996, Passlogix delivered the first usable enterprise single sign-on (ESSO) solution. Today, the company’s v-GO Access Accelerator Suite goes beyond single sign-on to eliminate critical pain points throughout sign-on, authentication and provisioning processes. Passlogix’s authentication and identity management technology can enable businesses to tighten information security, reduce help desk calls and associated costs, as well as increase user productivity by automating password management. We spoke to Passlogix’s Stephane Fymat, VP of Strategy and Product Management, to find out more. Interview by Christian Harris.

BCW: What does Passlogix do?
SF: We develop and sell enterprise single sign-on (ESSO), authentication and user provisioning enablement software processes to the enterprise. Our software is designed to allow employees to access their business applications securely and quickly. Our aim is to increase efficiencies, increase security and reducing helpdesk costs for our clients.

BCW: What are the market needs driving your business?
SF: Enterprises want to provide their employees with seamless access to all of the systems and applications that they need to get business done, without being constantly interrupted by logon prompts. They want to reduce their help desk costs by eliminating the root cause of one of the top source of calls—forgotten passwords. They want to increase network security by automatically enforcing strong password policies. And, finally, in many countries, there are a number of regulations that require enterprises to enforce strong password security policies.

BCW: Which business sectors benefit most from your solutions?
SF: We are not industry specific; we cover areas from healthcare, all the way through to manufacturing, energy, finance and government. We have customers who have a hundred users, up to companies with hundreds of thousands. What it really comes down to is how many passwords employees have to manage. Once you get over six or seven passwords per user then that is when people really see the benefit of our product.

BCW: Passlogix has had continued success despite direct competition from large companies like IBM, CA and Novell. What is the key factor driving growth?
SF: I would say that ESSO secure access is our core business, it’s what we do and we do it well. We have been around a long time and our core focus is SSO, other larger companies are not able to specialise in this area. The other thing is that we have developed our technology to deliver more than just ESSO; we have expanded our product line so that we cover strong authentication, privileged accounts management, kiosk management, user ID correlation and beyond. So, our breadth and depth of product, combined with our specialized expertise, enable us to continue to grow.

BCW: Passlogix emphasises the role strong customer service plays in swaying potential customers away from large companies. Tell us more.
SF: It goes back to being the experts. Everyone in our company is specialized in what we do. For example, when a Passlogix professional services consultant shows up on site to manage a deployment, he has already done the same thing ten times beforehand—he has knowledge and experience. The customer isn’t paying for someone to learn “on the job”, instead, he is receiving a rapid and effective deployment by an experienced professional. We have a results based mindset—we take customer support very seriously, meaning that we are very involved and very proactive in making sure that our customers our happy.

BCW: Tell us a little about enterprise single sign-on (ESSO) and its importance.
SF: ESSO enables users to sign onto the network once with a single password. Once in, those users can access all their applications without having to remember or enter details each time. Instead, the passwords are served to the applications automatically by the ESSO system. ESSO is able to manage passwords, which means we are able to manage sign-on to main-frame, Java, Web, and Windows applications. And, my login details go with me regardless of which computer I login to within the enterprise. With the addition of our on-demand single sign-on offering, employees can access their applications from anywhere—say if you were working from home. Our solution provides our clients with increased security, increased compliance, and faster access to applications.

BCW: Passlogix’s v-GO Access Accelerator Suite was developed to go beyond single sign-on to eliminate critical pain points throughout sign-on, authentication and provisioning processes. What are the benefits of this approach?
SF: The v-GO Access Accelerator Suite is an integrated set of single sign-on, authentication and provisioning enablement solutions. The primary benefit of the suite is that it provides a comprehensive, unified strategy for managing passwords of all kinds, enabling any type of strong authentication device to be used to logon to the computer network, and preparing the path for the deployment of provisioning systems.

BCW: v-GO is the first solution that can extend single sign-on beyond the enterprise to remote, mobile and temporary users. In practical terms, how is this managed?
SF: Besides being a traditional software application, v-GO is also available as an on-demand application. For example, when a user visits the company’s extranet portal from a remote computer, v-GO will automatically download and run. The user doesn’t see anything. When the user then launches an application, say a mainframe application via a java-based emulator, they are automatically signed on. As soon as the user logs off of that computer, v-GO and all of that users’ user ids and passwords are automatically deleted.

BCW: Can Passlogix help a company to strengthen compliance?
SF: There’s a lot of different compliance regulations across the world. Generally speaking, they have the same requirements. Firstly, your passwords need to be of a certain length and complexity. Secondly, they need to be changed frequently. Thirdly, in some cases, you have to apply two-factor authentication. And, fourthly, you have to log and track which users are logging on to which applications. Passlogix ticks all theses boxes.

BCW: Password management solutions typically require additional infrastructure or implementation of a larger IAM (identity and access management) application framework. Is Passlogix any different?
SF: Passlogix is quite different because we don’t need any additional infrastructure. The v-GO software uses the enterprise’s existing directory, servers and authentication services.

BCW: Hardware companies say software-based encryption and authentication is flawed. Are they wrong?
SF: Software-based encryption has been around for a long time. The algorithms used in software are the same as hardware. The choice between hardware or software-based encryption depends on both the security level required and the use case scenarios in question. For example, how would one use hardware encryption for file encryption on a laptop computer? Unless you deploy smart cards to everyone, that scenario dictates software encryption since there is no access to other hardware.

BCW: Would you like to add anything?
SF: If you look back on Passlogix history we have continuously demonstrated market leadership. We are recognised as an industry leader and I believe that we are seen as an innovator of ESSO technology and pushing the capabilities of ESSO to tackle new challenges as an when they arrive. That’s demonstrated by our v-GO On-Demand Edition and v-GO Shared Accounts Manager for example. In the new year, look for announcements about new innovate products from Passlogix in the area of strong authentication.