CA SSO Review

Federation enables us to integrate with multiple third-party vendors


What is our primary use case?

It is our authentication system for access to online and mobile banking.

Its performance has been good. It works well for us.

How has it helped my organization?

It keeps our members safe, that's a benefit for us. It's important.

What is most valuable?

Federation, for sure, because we have a lot of third-party vendors that we need to integrate with, and this is a turnkey solution in some ways.

The Directory is secure. It's our user store, and it's important to keep our members safe. The product does well with that.

What needs improvement?

I think they need to integrate some of the newer types of authentication into the product. I'm not seeing the innovation when it comes to biometrics in the product.

Also, easier integration with third-party partners to OpenID Connect because username/passwords are a thing of the past. People are going to be using facial recognition. Apple has gone that way. There are other companies like Daon that are doing this. CA SSO will be left behind if they don't have it yet. There's some innovation being done, but it's not there.

Improvement is being made all the time. I just came out of a session here at the CA World conference where they showed how you set up Federation partners is being improved, through more APIs. Making life easier for the engineer is always important because we are lazy in general. So improvements are being made in that space. There's more to be done, like how to make configurations easier, and not have the engineer having to guess what will happen when he changes a particular setting.

For how long have I used the solution?

More than five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

If I had answered this question four years back I would have said "poor." But over the last four years they've done a lot of work to make it stable and it's reasonably stable right now.

It still goes down once in a while. But that's not the product's problem, it's probably how it's configured in our environment. So the product is pretty stable.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

It is scalable. It depends on where it's running, and on where it's deployed, and how it's configured. In our case, it is scalable. 

Some parts are scalable, not all parts. We do have some customized pieces within the product itself that we paid CA to build for us. Some of those things are not scalable.

How is customer service and technical support?

Technical support is good. We're a large scale customer for CA, so we do have Premium Support from them. We had a problem about three years back with the stability and we were going down all the time. We actually got somebody in-house from CA, to come to our office within a few hours, and the person stayed on until the problem was fixed.

Which solutions did we use previously?

We had no choice. We were growing too big. We had a homegrown solution in place six years back, and our CTO at that point made a conscious decision to go towards this approach. And it worked.

I think CA had a pre-existing relationship with our company. And our CTO had used a CA SSO product before, and the recommendation was made at that point. So I don't know whether it was a full evaluation that was done, or whether it was the fact that, "Hey, it is a product that had worked before in other places, and we're talking about a straightforward use case here. So let's just go for it."

In terms of advice to someone looking for a similar solution, this one has worked for us, so think of whether it fits into your space. It may be best-in-class for doing a particular type of function, but that doesn't mean it fits in your ecosystem. So think of that first before you pick something which is best-in-class.

How was the initial setup?

Complex, painful. But that is to be expected of any new setup. When you're a big bank like us, any kind of migration to a new product is hard. I expect it to be painful, and it was painful. But it's not something that you can avoid.

What other advice do I have?

One thing that recently surprised me about CA is how big it is. The product I'm talking about in that context is not a CA product, it's an acquisition that CA made a few years back. I was used to working with the other company. Once we knew that CA bought it, I was surprised to see how big CA is. Just the product suite itself is pretty large. So just that was surprising.

As for the most important criteria when selecting a vendor, technical support is clearly one of them. Vendors tend to sell us something and then walk away, and we're left holding the bag. So tech support is clearly important. Apart from that, in terms of products, we don't care much about best-in-class. We just need to make sure it fits within any kind of technology ecosystem that you have. You could come and sell me a product that is best-in-class for doing a particular thing. But if it doesn't fit into my current stack, than it's useless.

Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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