Integrations and single sign-ons (SSOs) are both ways of leveraging data that you already have to make the experience of using your website easier and smoother for both visitors and site administrators.
When Finalsite talks about an “integration,” we mean connecting the database that powers your website with the one that already holds information about people at your school. You already have a system that contains peoples’ names, basic information, data about their jobs (such as whether they’re school staff), or their relationships (information about who a particular student’s parents are, for instance). Your website requires a different database filled with much of that same information in order to operate properly. (The website needs a database so that it can deliver the right information to the right users - when a staff member logs in, for example, they’ll have different capabilities on the site than a student will. The site database is how the website “knows” which users are staff and which are students.)
An integration allows your website access to the existing database without the need to manually re-enter data. When those two systems are integrated, your existing “system of record” will automatically update the website’s database on a regular schedule, usually overnight. That way, any updates you make to your school's records will automatically be reflected on your website as well, without you having to maintain two separate sets of data.
An “SSO” serves a similar purpose. Instead of connecting information about people however, SSOs connect information about services. “SSO” stands for “Single Sign-On,” and it’s a way to let you use usernames and passwords for your website accounts for other service accounts as well.
The idea behind an SSO is that you should not have to prove that you are you more than once. When you log into your school’s website, by typing in a password you are proving that you are who you say you are. The same thing then happens when you want to use a service (“service” here can mean lots of things, such as a Student Information System like RenWeb or Veracross, an information resources like World Book or Brittanica, a scheduling tool like Pick-A-Time, and more). These services all require a username and password to login. Because this is redundant with logging into your website, an SSO can streamline the process, allowing your website username and password to automatically work for another service.
As with integrations, the information in your database determines the content that’s delivered to each user. So only those site administrators with permission to access a resource like Veracross would ever see that when they login to the site. But when they need to use that tool, they can do so without having to maintain a separate username and password - just by logging into the website, they will automatically gain access to any connected resources as well via the SSO.
Finalsite has existing SSOs available for dozens of popular services and websites, and more are rolled out regularly. Integrations and SSOs are all separate from one another - you can establish multiple SSOs to different services, and also decide whether or not to integrate the site with into your school’s database. If your school uses a particular resource frequently, considering establishing an SSO for it on your website.
Both Integrations and SSOs are maintained in the “Integrated Services Manager” module found in the “Site Manager” tab. Contact Finalsite Support if you have any specific integration or SSO-related questions.
You can check out a partial list of existing SSOs for common education tools to find out if we've already created an SSO for your school's systems. Further options are available on our website.
Finalsite Support covers your SSO integrations. If you're having an issue with an SSO link, contact Support by opening a ticket. We have documentation available for a number of SSOs, and our Data Integration Specialists are also available to help you out.