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Signify and Auth0 Secure Identity in the Internet of Things

How secure and frictionless authentication allows for a focus on innovation


Secure access for everyone. But not just anyone.

About Signify

Signify is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and lighting for the Internet of Things. Our energy efficient lighting products, systems and services enable our customers to enjoy a superior quality of light, and make people’s lives safer and more comfortable, businesses more productive and cities more livable. With 2019 sales of EUR 6.2 billion, approximately 36,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries, we’re unlocking the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world.

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For more than 125 years, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) has been the world leader in consumer and professional lighting, boasting 36,000+ employees and a presence in 70+ countries. The company continues to be a driving force for lighting innovations, with an emphasis on sustainability to build a better world.”

Thanks to advances in LED and smart lighting technology, today there are new and unique use cases for the consumer, professional, and IoT spaces. Etienne Bertou, principal cloud architect in the Philips Hue brand of Signify, joined the company because their innovative ethos matched his own.

Among Signify’s innovations is the Hue Cloud, the backbone of the Hue IoT platform. The Hue Cloud allows consumers to easily and securely manage and control their home lighting from outside their home WiFi with the Hue app or through third-party applications. Next to scalability and reliability, secure access that maintains the trust of their customers was essential on the Hue R&D roadmap. Customer authentication that offers “best-in-class security and privacy” was key.

“When you work with a partner like Auth0, it takes a lot off of your roadmap that should not be the focus of your R&D teams.”
Etienne Bertou
Principal Cloud Architect

Consumers Demand Frictionless Authentication

When asked to describe proper authentication, Bertou shared an appropriate analogy. “Authentication is a little bit like traditional lighting in a sense that it's mostly ubiquitous,” he says. “People expect it to be there, people expect it to be frictionless. They don't worry too much about it unless it's not working.”

Having previously developed their own sign-in logic with a Google integration, Bertou’s team set a goal to make authentication more seamless within their stack as their system evolved. Hue explored strategic partnerships, instead of rebuilding authentication themselves due to the continued effort of maintaining a secure solution for their large global network.

“Authentication is a little bit like traditional lighting in a sense that it's mostly ubiquitous. People expect it to be there, people expect it to be frictionless. They don't worry too much about it unless it's not working.”
Etienne Bertou
Principal Cloud Architect

Auth0 Documentation, Approachability Make the Difference

After evaluating several solutions, Bertou contacted Auth0 when he found properly-documented APIs and readily available SDKs for rapid implementation. 

The ease of contacting and working with Auth0 engineers also influenced the strategic decision. “That approachability is what really helped us get confidence,” says Bertou. “I think a very good judge of character of a company is how difficult it is to get a hold of engineering to provide support during and after the implementation. A second measure is the management team’s susceptibility to roadmap input by experts working for their strategic customers. Auth0 passing on both fronts made it very easy for us to get started on prototyping.”

Signify wasted no time prototyping and created their first prototype within two weeks. After that, they planned their user migration. By using a lazy migration approach, the company was able to migrate millions of accounts onto the Auth0 platform automatically, at the moment a user signs in. One of the largest user migrations in IoT, completely frictionless for Hue users.

“That approachability is what really helped us get confidence.”
Etienne Bertou
Principal Cloud Architect

Securing Access to Hue Cloud for Millions of Users

As several millions of Hue users had been migrated to Auth0, security and compliance have been taken up by Auth0 at the industry best practice level. Securing logins for so many users is critical for Signify, and Auth0’s security standards and external auditing met their requirements to get the job done right.

With authentication solved for the Hue Cloud, Signify could focus on what it does best - building innovative lighting technologies and features for its global customer base. Instead of re-inventing user authentication and compliance, with 4,8% of sales re-invested in R&D, Signify innovation focussed on furthering the field of Anti-viral lighting (UV-C), making affordable and energy-efficient lighting more accessible and advancing best-in-class home connected lighting, to name a few.  

Ultimately, as Signify grows, Bertou believes the biggest benefit of the partnership with Auth0 will be allowing the team to continue innovating and building trust. “When you work with a partner like Auth0, it takes a lot off of your roadmap that should not be the focus of your R&D teams,” he says. “It's about being greater together and having someone focus on things we think are essential in building trust in the company and Hue platform while allowing us to focus on innovation.”

And Signify’s partnership with Auth0 extends beyond the Hue platform to exploring new identity features and functionality. “As businesses, Auth0 and Signify share a backbone of adaptability, creativity, and innovation. To that end, we’ve enabled them to share their story internally to help shape features that can benefit our customers at scale,” says Aoife Crowley, Auth0’s director of technical account management, EMEA. “Identity becomes a solved problem when you have a strong foundation of out-of-the-box features, a standards-based approach, and extensibility. We echo Signify's value that we are Greater Together, and are pleased to continue to support Signify’s innovation, just as they support ours.”

“It's about being greater together and having someone focus on things we think are essential in building trust in the company and Hue platform while allowing us to focus on innovation.”
Etienne Bertou
Principal Cloud Architect

About Auth0

The Auth0 Identity Platform, a product unit within Okta, takes a modern approach to identity and enables organizations to provide secure access to any application, for any user. Auth0 is a highly customizable platform that is as simple as development teams want, and as flexible as they need. Safeguarding billions of login transactions each month, Auth0 delivers convenience, privacy, and security so customers can focus on innovation. For more information, visit https://auth0.com.

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Secure access for everyone. But not just anyone.