How to Choose the Best Certificate Management System: Top Considerations & Must-Haves


You probably know this by now: The certificate management software market is awash with an astounding selection of tools. Hundreds of options are available, all boasting different levels of functionality. This is a great thing, but it can also lead to analysis paralysis as you jump from one product to the next, trying to decide.

Fear not. Your quest for the perfect certificate management system ends here.

Below, we let you know five keys to consider when looking for the best online certificate manager.

1. Ability to Support Multiple CAs

Organizations with their internal Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) typically use around eight different issuing certificate authorities (CAs). But that’s not all; they also utilize one or more public CAs. 

Avoid getting stuck with CA-provided tools that restrict you from issuing and managing certificates outside your CA. Keeping track of certificates across multiple CA dashboards requires continuous manual work. This is incredibly time-consuming and increases the risk of making mistakes and overlooking important details.

2. Ability to Accommodate Many PKI Use Cases

A certificate management system worth its weight in gold won’t limit you to only one or two PKI use cases. Instead, it seamlessly deploys and automates the lifecycle management of PKI certificates across a host of use cases, including:

  • Secure networked and mobile devices
  • Digital identity management for zero trust
  • Enterprise email security with signing and encryption
  • Secure DevOps containers and code
  • Secure application development
  • Key management in public cloud

Of course, the wording in these use cases will vary from one tool to the next. But keywords like zero trust and email security are unmistakably clear; don’t settle for less.

3. Crypto Agility

As the world inches closer to the reality of quantum computing and IT leaders watch the average digital certificate lifespan decrease to just one year or less, crypto agility has never been more vital. Pick a tool that prioritizes this aspect.

If an algorithm or CA is compromised, re-issuing certificates and keys from a new CA aren’t enough. The vendor should ensure that the entire process is seamless and doesn’t disrupt normal business operations. Additionally, it should be achievable within mission-critical time constraints. Lastly, the process should be feasible even in ecosystems involving many certificates spread across distributed systems and applications.

4. End-to-End Automation

Automating your certificate management allows you to minimize human intervention and reduce the risk of outages. 

Make sure your tool can provide a wide range of automation options, including agent-based and agentless approaches. It’s even better if it can offer support for commonly used protocols such as Windows auto-enrollment, Simple Certificate Enrollment Protocol (SCEP), and Automated Certificate Management Environment (ACME). These protocols extend the visibility and control of certificates across hundreds of open-source clients and existing infrastructure.

We see you asking, “Does that mean my vendor should also be able to integrate with all my target systems?” Absolutely. An effective tool will seamlessly integrate with a bevy of tools, including AWS, Citrix, IIS, F5, Azure KeyVault, to mention a few. 

5. Top-Notch Support

This one might sound obvious, but knowing you have access to PKI expertise is invaluable. 

Look for a vendor that can set milestones for success, align resources, and ramp up your team if and when need be. Inquire about initial response times, round-the-clock support, and customer testimonials.

Finding an Effective Certificate Management System Should Be Simple

As long as you follow the recommendations and advice to a tee, choosing a good certificate manager should be one less thing to worry about. The best solutions support many CAs and use cases, enable crypto agility, facilitate complete automation, and offer top-tier support. These aren’t just mere capabilities; they paint the most accurate picture of how valuable certificate management can be for any aspiring organization that dares to take that leap. Yours could—and should— be next.

A robust, reliable, and trusted certificate manager like Sectigo’s Certificate Manager can greatly enhance your business’s online security, reliability, and efficiency; learn more about Sectigo’s offerings by clicking the link provided.

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