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Looking to imbue managed services with single sign-on capabilities, AVG Technologies has forged an alliance with Centrify.

Under the terms of the deal, AVG will give managed service providers that make use of its platform the ability to control access to both cloud applications and what mobile devices access to network.

“We’re making it possible for MSPs to deliver identity-as-a-service,” said David Haadsma, vice president of business development for AVG Business. “This should make MSPs a lot more relevant to their customers.”

After initially establishing a presence in IT security as a provider of anti-malware software, AVG extended its portfolio into the MSP platform category. What distinguishes AVG in the MSP space is that it routinely embeds security functionality within its MSP platform, Haadsma said.

Thanks to the rise of shadow IT services, Haadsma notes that customers are looking to MSPs for identity management capabilities that will enable them to better govern who gets access to what data. Via Centrify, MSPs now have the ability to control access to 2,500 of the most popular cloud-based business applications, including Office 365, Salesforce, WebEx, Facebook and LinkedIn, Haadsma said.

As much as internal IT organizations might want to ban access to these services from a practical perspective, most end users would simply evade such restrictions. Identity-as-a-service offerings make it possible to continue to provide access to those services in a way that is authorized. The opportunity for MSPs comes from the fact that trying to deploy identity management on their own usually involves more complexity than the average internal IT organization can handle.

Just as importantly, identity-as-a-service will also help distinguish partners of AVG Technologies in a crowded MSP category where competition is fierce, Haadsma said. After all, almost anybody can provide an IT service these days; the real challenge in this day and age, he said, is actually securing it.

Michael Vizard has been covering IT issues in the enterprise for 25 years as an editor and columnist for publications such as InfoWorld, eWEEK, Baseline, CRN, ComputerWorld and Digital Review.