SAML - Overview

SAML - Overview

What is SAML?

SAML stands for Security Assertion Markup Language. It is an XML based open standard protocol used for Single Sign On (SSO). SAML lets users gain access to multiple applications without the need for entering credentials everytime.

What is Single Sign-on?

Before understanding what Single Sign-On (SSO) is, we must go through how traditional authentication works.
  1. A service will present the user with a login page where the user must submit a set of login credentials i.e., username and passwords. Some services might ask for more authentication information such as a one-time password.
  2. The credentials submitted by the user are validated against the ones present in the database at the service.
Traditional authentication is quite intuitive; everything is managed within the service, providing a simple way for users to authenticate. However, if a user needs to access multiple applications with a different set of login credentials for each application, it quickly turns cumbersome for the user. The user must remember multiple credentials and comply with different password policies.

Single Sign-On is a feature which lets you access Zoho as well as third-party applications with one user credential. Users aren't required to remember an array of usernames and passwords for each application they need access to. Zoho uses SAML to achieve SSO with third-party applications.

How does it work?

IdP initiated flow

  1. The user wants to access a Zoho service.
  2. The user logs in to their Identity Provider (IdP )and chooses the Zoho application.
  3. IdP will create a signed SAML assertion response, which is sent to the ACS (Assertion Consumer Service) URL endpoint at Zoho.
  4. Zoho will validate the SAML assertion response. Upon successful validation, the user will be granted access to any Zoho services they are authorized for.

SP initated flow

  1. The user wants to sign in to a Zoho service. 
  2. Zoho generates an SAML authentication request and sends it to IdP via HTTP-Redirect binding.
  3. IdP will authenticate the user and form a signed SAML assertion response, which is sent to the ACS URL endpoint at Zoho.
  4. Zoho will validate the SAML assertion response. If the user is authorized to use the Zoho service, they will be granted access.

Check out how to configure SAML in Zoho Accounts and use various IdP's such as Google, Okta, OneLogin, Azure, Auth0, ADFS to access Zoho applications using SAML

    Redefine the way you work
    with Zoho Workplace

      Zoho DataPrep Personalized Demo

      If you'd like a personalized walk-through of our data preparation tool, please request a demo and we'll be happy to show you how to get the best out of Zoho DataPrep.

      Zoho CRM Training

        Create, share, and deliver

        beautiful slides from anywhere.

        Get Started Now

          Get started with Zoho Sign

          in a few quick steps!

          Download Help Guide

                    Secure your business
                    communication with Zoho Mail

                    Mail on the move with
                    Zoho Mail mobile application

                      Stay on top of your schedule
                      at all times

                      Carry your calendar with you
                      Anytime, anywhere

                              Zoho Sign Resources

                                Sign, Paperless!

                                Sign and send business documents on the go!

                                Get Started Now

                                    Zoho SalesIQ Resources

                                        Zoho TeamInbox Resources

                                                Zoho DataPrep Resources

                                                  Zoho DataPrep Demo

                                                  Get a personalized demo or POC

                                                  REGISTER NOW

                                                    Design. Discuss. Deliver.

                                                    Create visually engaging stories with Zoho Show.

                                                    Get Started Now

                                                                          • Related Articles

                                                                          • Troubleshoot SAML related errors

                                                                            Error Message Reason Solution Your organization has configured SAML authentication, please sign in via SAML credentials You cannot sign in to your Zoho account via any linked account, if your organization has mandated you to sign in only through SAML ...
                                                                          • Configure SAML in Zoho Accounts

                                                                            Note: If you want to configure SAML for Zoho One/ Zoho Directory, you can refer to their respective help documents: Zoho One | Zoho Directory Prerequisites Your Zoho account must be an organization account and not a personal account. You can create ...
                                                                          • SAML terminologies

                                                                            General terminologies Single Sign-On (SSO) Single Sign-On (SSO) is the process of signing in to multiple services using a single set of credentials (as opposed to having separate credentials for different services). Using SSO, you can sign in to your ...
                                                                          • Sign in using SAML

                                                                            SAML is a protocol that allows you to configure single sign-on (SSO) for Zoho with your identity provider (IdP). Once SAML-based SSO is configured for an organization, all the organization users can directly sign in to Zoho using their IdP ...
                                                                          • Accessing Zoho via Azure using SAML

                                                                            By configuring SAML based SSO with Azure, you can let your users sign in to Zoho using their Azure credentials. Required items from Azure You will need the following items from Azure to configure SAML in Zoho. You can follow the configuration steps ...
                                                                          Wherever you are is as good as
                                                                          your workplace



                                                                            Watch comprehensive videos on features and other important topics that will help you master Zoho CRM.


                                                                            Download free eBooks and access a range of topics to get deeper insight on successfully using Zoho CRM.


                                                                            Sign up for our webinars and learn the Zoho CRM basics, from customization to sales force automation and more.

                                                                            CRM Tips

                                                                            Make the most of Zoho CRM with these useful tips.

                                                                              Zoho Show Resources