Today’s enterprises face serious challenges with certificates.

Enterprises create more connections every day. The shift to containers, multi-cloud, mobile and IoT platforms has introduced significant new challenges for PKI and security teams, as increased network exposure has led to a Critical Trust Gap.

Keeping pace with the rapid rise in connectivity means using more keys and digital certificates to secure those connections. With the number of certificates growing exponentially, increasing numbers of devices, and shorter expiration periods, organizations need to rely on automation.


Spreadsheet-based tracking only works for a limited certificate count. Manually keeping track of thousands of certificates just isn’t feasible. It also doesn’t account for unknown certificates, leaving organizations exposed to high risk of outages.


CA-provided tools are a step up from spreadsheets, but these solutions aren’t effective in complex, multi-vendor environments. Lack of automation and limited cross-platform support make these tools unfit for most enterprises.


Open-source CA tools and protocols are free and flexible, but they do not provide centralized visibility and control across all CAs and certificates that enterprises need to sufficiently prevent outages and ensure compliance.


Certificate lifecycle automation - also known as X.509 certificate management - enables enterprises to proactively discover, manage, and automate the lifecycle of keys and digital certificate across their environment. There are many tools and approaches, but some are more effective than others to meet your specific needs.

Finding a solution that is easy to deploy, easy to manage, and can cost effectively protect your business is critical. To help you find the right fit, we’ve put together this practical buyer’s guide.

"X.509 certificate management tools arm organizations with critical insight, automation and management capabilities when dealing with digital certificates."


"Technology Insight for X.509 Certificate Management"
David Mahdi, David Collinson, October 2019

Where to Start

There are many tools on the market today, but some are more effective than others for the scale and complexity of your environment. The real difference between vendors is less about their offered capabilities and more about how they implement them.

That’s why it is critical that your teams drill into use cases – and how they are implemented – before deciding on a solution. Start with these three guiding principles:


There are no second-class certificates. The vendor you select shouldn’t force you to pick and choose which certificates to manage due to cost or complexity. A well-architected solution should make it easy and affordable to manage every certificate across your environment without exception. Why? Because It’s not the certificates you know about that will cause your next outage – it’s the ones you don’t – and incomplete inventory or oversight will leave you exposed to risk.


Multi-cloud is the new norm – as is the adoption of mobile and IoT devices. Any solution must be able to support the distributed, dynamic nature of infrastructure today. Choose a vendor that allows users to issue certificates from anywhere, to anywhere, while giving you complete visibility and control. That means any certificate (public or private), any CA, and any device or platform. It also means being able to deploy how and where you need to – whether on-prem, in the cloud, or hybrid and containerized environments.


The architecture of a platform has significant impacts on ease of use and deployment. Avoid “middleware” solutions that sit between CAs and end-devices. These solutions require you to issue all certificates through their platform to fully manage them. Instead, look for modular, loosely coupled solutions that act as a certificate orchestrator, not a transaction pipeline or bottleneck.


Most vendors and organizations hyper focus on SSL certificates used for Internet-facing or internal applications, but this is a shrinking fraction of the certificate landscape. Cloud services, containers, services meshes all use machine-to-machine communications that rely on client authentication certificates. A large number of outages – such as the recent Microsoft Teams outage – are not caused by expired SSL server certificates, but by a failure to track web service client authentication certificates.

"By 2022, organizations that leverage X.509 certificate management tools will suffer 90% fewer certificate-related issues and will spend half the time managing these issues, compared with organizations that use spreadsheet-based management methods."


"Technology Insight for X.509 Certificate Management"
David Mahdi, David Collinson, October 2019

Download The Full Guide

Let’s dive in - download the full guide:

Now we’ll look at the core capabilities of certificate lifecycle automation solutions in more detail. Within the guide, you’ll find a list of questions for vendors to help you drill down into how they implement the capabilities and why that’s important.

Download the full guide below to learn more.