Microsoft this week announced the top non-Microsoft applications used in 2020 that tapped the Azure Active Directory identity and access management service, based on entries in its Azure Marketplace online store.
The findings can be found in a 19-page report, “The State of Apps by Microsoft Identity,” which can be downloaded here. Microsoft hosts the Azure Marketplace store, which is a software repository of Microsoft-vetted applications made by Microsoft, as well as by non-Microsoft software companies. Apparently, because Microsoft owns the store, it can also assess things like apps-use information.
Microsoft’s report examined Azure apps use according to several factors, including the number of monthly active users, plus the number of organizations using them. It also showed apps-use stats based on the size of organizations (enterprise, midmarket and small), as well as by industry type. Also examined were apps used by category (such as “security,” “human resources” and “education”), as well as the fastest growing apps. The report refrained from describing Microsoft’s own apps, though.
The switch to remote work in March of last year was a constant theme in the report about why some apps moved toward the list’s top in 2020. However, there were some constants, such as the ServiceNow IT service management app, which remained at the top of Microsoft’s lists from 2018 to 2020.
Here is the report’s top-15 Azure AD apps, based on the “monthly active users” criterion:
The Zoom videoconferencing app was a new entry in 2020 as organizations shifted toward remote work. However, security apps also rose to prominence, reflecting organizational needs, according to Joy Chik, corporate vice president for Microsoft Identity, in Microsoft’s announcement:
For the first time, security apps like Palo Alto Networks Prisma Access and Zscaler Private Access made their way to the top 15 apps by monthly active users. Other newcomers to the top 15 apps list include collaboration and communication apps; Workplace from Facebook and Zoom. Zoom not only made its 2020 debut within the top 15 on this list, it catapulted to number 5.
The report found a difference in the use of IT service management apps that was correlated with business size.
“Enterprise and mid-market organizations regularly deploy the IT service management app ServiceNow, while small businesses predominantly use Freshservice,” Chik explained.
In general, the report wasn’t focused on Microsoft apps, but Chik did talk a little about Microsoft’s growth, as well as Azure AD use and security practice trends. Use of the Microsoft Teams collaboration service grew from “44 million daily active users in March 2020 to 115 million daily active users this past October,” she noted.
The use of multifactor authentication with the Azure AD service grew “150 percent year-over-year.” She also noted an increase in the use of authentications without passwords.
“Passwordless usage in Azure AD went up by more than 50 percent for Windows Hello for Business, passwordless phone sign-in with Microsoft Authenticator, and FIDO2 security keys,” Chik indicated.
The use of the Azure AD App Proxy service, a tool for connecting applications of all types with the Azure AD service for remote access, underwent a spike in use “by roughly 60 percent as the global pandemic started to take hold,” Chik added. Use of the Azure AD App Proxy service grew 100 percent, year over year.
The Azure AD App Proxy service is a valuable tool for organizations because it can be used to connect apps that use “legacy authentication protocols like HTTP or header-based,” she explained.