Apple’s plans to integrate Google Workspace identity services with Managed Apple IDs should simplify cloud identity management for businesses that use services from the search advertising giant.
Bringing the work and school teams together
The recently-announced integration is particularly focused on the needs of small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) using Apple Business Essentials (ABE) and educators using Apple School Manager, but, like the Microsoft Azure Active Directory integration that Managed Apple IDs already enjoy, will likely reach additional services.
The beauty of this federated authentication is that it lets employees sign into their Managed Apple IDs with their Google Workspace account, which makes it much easier to access apps and services without compromising security.
This kind of authentication support for both Azure and Workspace has long been a big ask from within the enterprise communities Apple’s products are currently reaching; its arrival maintains Apple’s continued trend toward improving the offer it makes to business users.
What is Managed Apple ID?
Managed Apple IDs are used to access Apple apps and services. These IDs are owned and managed by the business and can be used alongside personal Apple IDs when an organization makes use of User Enrollment.
Data separation between enterprise and personal accounts is protected.
You use these to access your enterprise services, data and apps and to manage user accounts. More in-depth information is available here.
What is Google Workspace?
Formerly known as G Suite, Google Workspace combines Google’s productivity and collaboration tools and supports your own business URL and email nomenclature. It includes Gmail, Contacts, Calendar, Meet, Chat, and additional tools including Currents, Google Drive, and Google Docs. It can also include the Jamboard whiteboard and telephony service, Voice. The suite is popular among SMBs and education customers.
Google continues to improve its Workspace product. It recently introduced improved support for Focus mode on iOS devices. Perhaps more significantly (particularly to Google’s hybrid workers), it’s now possible to set up host controls and assign co-hosts ahead of meetings in Google Calendar.
Why this matters
In a recent interview, Javier Soltero, vice president of Google Workspace, confirmed his division has both fully remote and hybrid employees, and stressed that businesses must be flexible and adapt to employee needs, very much echoing recent comments from Slack’s Future Forum.
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“Trusting your teams with the flexibility to work where and when works best for them will lead to better business results and happier employees,” said Brian Elliott, executive leader of the Future Forum.
In the case of Apple Business Manager, Google Workspace, Azure Active Directory and across the growing Apple device-focused Mobile Device Management (MDM) industry, seamless authentication is seen as a strategic imperative to support digital transformation and new working practices.
Managing multiple platforms, services and vendors
On all sides of the fence, I think business leaders are beginning to understand the need for seamless integration between the multi-sourced services, vendors, and platforms that usually exist across modern business infrastructure.
They know that to realize the benefits of sometimes costly digitization projects everything has to work well together. Falling short of such integration is often cited as a reason behind the failure of 60%+ of such projects.
For vendors in the space, removing unnecessary complexity meets a customer need, which is why they are doing it. The need to integrate is also accelerating the development of a servic- integration industry, particularly in backend infrastructure. This is a noticeable trend, Gartner covers it, and seamless authentication is critical to achieve it.
How will this work?
Apple says the overall integration between ABM and ASM will be under the control of a user with Admin or People Manager status on their account who is also assigned Google Workplace Administrator privileges. (You need both to join them up.)
That person will be able to edit the accounts of ABM-enrolled users and can also use the Federated Authentication tool to connect user accounts to Google Workspace. Among other features, they can also review any existing lists of automatically verified domains and conflicting domains.
You can explore the full integration process in the Apple Support document which is available here.