How Warp leveraged WorkOS for a modular and seamless SSO integration

Warp is a modern, Rust-based terminal with built-in AI to help developers build great software, faster. As an early-stage startup that is seeing incredible user growth and enterprise traction, Warp needed to quickly implement features like SSO to support customers with security requirements. 

By integrating WorkOS, Warp could quickly enable SSO for enterprise customers without disrupting their existing authentication stack with Firebase. The WorkOS Admin Portal also allows Warp's customers to self-serve SSO setup, saving Warp's team hours in back-and-forth communication.

Finding a modular solution compatible with Firebase

The need for SSO became apparent as Warp responded to inquiries from companies with large development teams. "When enterprise companies rattle off requirements, SSO is usually the first one. It’s a fundamental expectation," said Jeff Lloyd, Tech Lead at Warp. "Our CEO asked how long it would take if we signed a deal tomorrow. I conducted a quick proof of concept with WorkOS and got it done swiftly.”

Warp was relying on Firebase as its primary authentication mechanism, offering users the choice to sign up via magic links from an email or through OAuth via Google or GitHub. While this setup catered to the majority of users, Firebase lacked native support for enterprise-grade auth features like SSO and SCIM, posing a significant hurdle for Warp. Given the engineering investment already poured in, migrating away from Firebase was not a viable option in the near term. Warp needed a modular solution that could seamlessly integrate with their existing auth stack.

The case for a pre-built solution vs. building in-house

The team had also thought about building SSO in-house but realized it was going to be a significant undertaking, likely requiring a couple of engineers working for several months for just one integration. For example, after supporting Okta as the first identity provider, the team would need to repeat the process for other providers like Google Workspace, Azure, and Ping, each with different implementation details for SAML.

Alternatively, Warp needed a solution that could ship quickly and meet enterprise security requirements without diverting engineers from core product development. 

Speed and flexibility with WorkOS

"We all recognized that we were moving too fast to build this ourselves," said Jeff. WorkOS integrated smoothly with Firebase, allowing Warp to deploy SSO without migrating their entire auth system.

Integrating WorkOS was quick and intuitive. It was fairly straightforward to begin with, and if Firebase wasn’t in the picture, the integration would have been even simpler.

Streamlined customer onboarding

Additionally, the WorkOS Admin Portal has been instrumental in streamlining enterprise customer onboarding. Instead of lengthy back-and-forth email chains to configure SSO, Warp can send IT admins a link to set up the connection themselves.

The onboarding process has been excellent. I love sending IT admins the link to set it up themselves and getting an email notification when it's completed. It's so efficient not having to get into meetings or go back and forth via email with IT personnel.

How Warp approaches becoming Enterprise Ready

Jeff further elaborated on how his team is approaching Enterprise Ready.

“First, SSO is an immediate priority, with plans to integrate with WorkOS Directory Sync to streamline enterprise user lifecycle management. Compliance is another critical aspect; we have achieved SOC2 Type I attestation and are working towards Type II. Finally, security is a major pillar we are tackling, addressing various enterprise concerns such as resolving issues from pen test reports, ensuring data isolation, and providing robust guarantees to build trust with clients.”

The results

By integrating WorkOS, Warp has been able to: 

  • Ship enterprise-grade SSO in a matter of hours, not days or months. 
  • Save hours on back-and-forth customer communication by enabling self-serve SSO setup through the Admin Portal.
  • Keep their existing Firebase authentication in place.
  • Maintain the WorkOS integration with minimal engineering effort.

"My involvement in keeping the WorkOS integration stable is pretty minimal, and that's a good thing," said Jeff. “It's out of sight, out of mind, which is great. It means I get to focus on things that actually do break and take up more of my brain space." 

With WorkOS, Warp has met enterprise security needs with SSO, streamlined customer onboarding, and freed up its engineering team to focus on core product development. 


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