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PingFederate Alternatives and Competitors

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Robertas Tamosaitis
Cloud Architect at a financial services firm with 10,001+ employees
Real User
Improves security, priced well, and makes MFA adoption easy for end-users

Pros and Cons

  • "The most valuable feature is its ability to act as an identity provider for other cloud-based, SaaS applications. In our bank, this is the main identity provider for such features."
  • "The B2B Federation functionality is not perfect and could be improved. It is not on the same level that we could have if it were being used on-premises. It offers a different experience, which is a bit complicated and has some additional drawbacks."

What is our primary use case?

We have a variety of use cases. The first thing we use it for is Microsoft 365 services. We utilize the single sign-on capability, for use with other SaaS applications. We use MFA, and use it as an identity provider, in general. We make use of the B2B Federation functionality based on Active Directory, as well.

We use a hybrid Azure Active Directory that works in conjunction with our on-premises Active Directory.

How has it helped my organization?

Azure AD has security features that have definitely helped to improve our security posture. Our hybrid environment makes it very easy for us to control when we need to integrate with third-party solutions. Normally, we do not allow integration with our on-premises systems and by requiring the third parties to integrate through Azure Active Directory, it gives us an extra layer of security. There is one-way communication from our on-premises Active Directory, which helps to secure our main controllers.

Another thing that we use extensively is conditional access, on top of the Azure Active Directory multi-factor authentication. We are quite happy with the metrics and reports, as well as the logging of risks, such as attempts to sign in from different areas.

So far, we haven't had any incidents. We've seen some attempts to steal our identities or to log in using our credentials but the security provided by this product, including conditional access and MFA, has stopped these attempts. From a security perspective, we are quite happy.

Overall, our security posture has improved, especially when we are talking about MFA. We have MFA deployed on-premises for all of our critical applications. Moving beyond this, to the cloud, I cannot imagine dealing with all of these different SaaS products without having AD or another cloud identity provider in place. We could use a competing product but definitely, we cannot survive solely with our on-premises solution.

This solution has improved our end-user experience, in particular, because of the single sign-on feature. Our users can quite easily begin working. For example, I've worked with other SaaS solutions and one thing that users complain about is the additional steps required for MFA. Some of the non-tech-savvy end-users sometimes struggle, but overall, I would say the experience is quite good.

We are a group of companies and have different Active Directory Forests and domains. Using Azure Active Directory, collaboration is much easier for us because we are able to configure it at the cloud level.

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is its ability to act as an identity provider for other cloud-based, SaaS applications. In our bank, this is the main identity provider for such features. Not on Office 365 applications, but on others like Salesforce.

What needs improvement?

The B2B Federation functionality is not perfect and could be improved. It is not on the same level that we could have if it were being used on-premises. It offers a different experience, which is a bit complicated and has some additional drawbacks.

The MFA has some limitations compared to the legacy version. We still use our on-premises version because it works with our legacy applications using certain protocols. 

I think that as Microsoft is going to the cloud, they are turning off the on-premises features too quickly because the functionality is not yet at par.

I would like to see more features included, such as some surrounding the lifecycle of licenses, and access management for non-Azure cloud applications

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using Azure Active Directory for approximately three years.

Prior to working with this company, I worked for Microsoft and I used Azure Active Directory as a user over a period of four to six years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

I'm pretty happy with the stability of this product. In all of the time that I have used it, I do remember a couple of instances where there was downtime. However, these did not last for a significant length of time.

I can recall that it went down one time, for approximately four hours, in several years. SLAs are definitely met by Microsoft.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

Scalability-wise, it works for us. We haven't had any problems and it is quite scalable.

Our company has 4,000 employees, so it isn't very large but so far, so good.

There are two people who are administrators that are involved in the managing and administration of Azure AD. I do not have administrative rights. Rather, I am set up for viewing only. 

How are customer service and technical support?

In general, I would rate Microsoft support a seven out of ten. Sometimes we needed to speak with different people about the same problem, and each time, we had to describe the situation from scratch.

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

I have no experience with other B2B Federation solutions, so I can't compare Azure Active Directory in this regard.

How was the initial setup?

Our initial setup was complex in some ways and easier in others. The complexity stemmed from the fact that we are a bank, and the security team chose the most complex deployment. Because the security people chose the most complex options, they are missing things. For example, self-service password reset is not working for us because it's one-direction communication.

In summary, our initial setup was complex because it was chosen as such. Although it is the most secure, we are missing some benefits that we would have if we had chosen a different setup.

The deployment itself was not very long. However, the planning stage was lengthy because of the in-depth discussions with the security team. Overall, the deployment took perhaps two weeks or less.

Our deployment strategy was a rather high-level approach and considered that our primary identity provider is on-premises AD, which means that we were able to take some of the details from there. We did not have to consider everything from scratch. For example, our password hash is one-way, so there are no writebacks. We defined it this way because it's quite secure. Similarly, we needed integration with third parties, such as other cloud providers. This meant that we were not afraid if something is breached because there would be no impact on our Active Directory. The only impact from a problem would be at the Azure Active Directory level.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

The cost of Azure AD is one of the biggest benefits, as it is available for use free of charge when you start with Office 365. It comes with the basic version of it and you can move to the more expensive plans with additional features, but these are still very competitive compared to other vendors.

By comparison, other vendors offered an independent MFA product but at quite an expensive price. With Microsoft, it was already included in the price. The bundling approach that Microsoft uses is good; although competitors may offer a more compelling solution, we already have access to the one from Microsoft at no additional cost.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We evaluated some other products from an MFA perspective but I have no hands-on experience with them. I received many good recommendations about both Okta and Ping Identity solutions.

What other advice do I have?

My advice for anybody who is considering Azure Active Directory is that if they are going to use other Microsoft services, like Office 365, then it's no brainer. It's the perfect solution for situations like this.

If you're using a different stack, like Google, and you choose a different cloud provider like Google or Amazon, then if you are using Microsoft, it is still good to use Azure Active Directory. The costs are relatively cheap compared to others.

However, if you're not using Microsoft products, then I would suggest that you could look to other vendors like Okta, for example. I had quite a few good references regarding Okta and the Ping Identity products. Ultimately, you are free to choose but from a cost perspective, Microsoft is great.

I would rate this solution a nine out of ten.

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

Hybrid Cloud

If public cloud, private cloud, or hybrid cloud, which cloud provider do you use?

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