How to Choose a Managed Cloud PKI

Patrick Grubbs Education

How to Choose a Managed Cloud PKI

As cloud technology and reliability continue to surpass their on-premise counterparts, more than 50% of organizations have made the switch to managed cloud PKI or plan to soon.

If your organization isn’t counted among that number yet, you’re missing out on the tremendous benefits a managed cloud PKI can offer.

Why Choose Managed Cloud PKI?

Cloud PKI is Cheaper than On-Premise PKI

It intuitively makes sense that cloud software is cheaper than on-premise alternatives. The primary reason is sheer scale – you only pay for what you need and it’s cheaper as your usage increases.

It’s hard to understate precisely how expensive it is to build an on-prem PKI from the ground up. Digicert has an elucidating whitepaper that breaks it down by software, hardware, and personnel. The math shakes out to on-prem costing about 30% more in annual recurring costs… on top of a hefty 6 figure deployment cost, even for small organizations with few devices.

Furthermore admins sometimes forget to consider the largest cost when choosing between managed and on-site PKI – the team that runs it. While the upfront investment and maintenance of a PKI can be hefty, it’s nothing compared to the long-term costs of hiring and training a team of employees to manage the system.

The truth is that 802.1x authentication is fairly complicated. It isn’t cheap to maintain a team to maintain your PKI. That’s where managed cloud PKI again benefits from scalability. A veteran cloud PKI vendor like SecureW2 has set up hundreds of 802.1x WPA2-Enterprise networks from scratch and continues to provide support on all of them, so operating costs are much more manageable.

From a strictly economic standpoint, there is little reason to ever choose an on-prem PKI over a managed cloud PKI.

Managed Cloud PKI Includes Experienced IT

Not only can you save money by leaning on the experience of a managed cloud PKI vendor – the value of having authentication experts on call 24/7 is priceless. Any network issue you stumble into has certainly been solved before, probably by our team. No need to spend hours on Stack Overflow, just submit a support ticket and watch it fix itself.

It’s difficult to convince people of the value a cybersecurity expert provides because cyberattacks are usually classified as “something that happens to other people”. The reality is there are more than 80,000 cyber attacks per day and a single breach has the ability to completely destroy your organization, as evidenced by the stat that “60% of small businesses hit with a cyber attack fold within 6 months”.

Your network is quite possibly the most vulnerable part of your company so it only makes sense to make sure it is well-protected with genuine experts.

Cloud PKI is More Secure

The only solution in which an on-prem PKI might be preferable to a managed cloud PKI is if you need to protect super top secret data. Of course, no PKI vendor actually has access to your network resources, but it’s possible you might be forced into on-prem for liability reasons.

For most organizations, however, a cloud PKI will be more secure than any on-premise network you set up yourself. They make it easier to set up the superior certificate-based authentication protocol, which protects you from over-the-air attacks. The SecureW2 Managed Cloud PKI stores certificates on physical hardware security modules (HSMs) for even more stringent security.

Cloud software has a significantly better uptime record. AWS, which our software is hosted on, was only down for 7 hours during the entire two year period of 2015-2017. No on-premise servers can boast that level of reliability. Not to mention the distributed nature of the servers means that your network won’t be affected by local events like natural disasters – another advantage in an era where we all work remotely due to pandemic.

Can You Trust Managed Cloud PKI Vendors?

cloud pkiTruthfully speaking, there aren’t many valid arguments in favor of keeping an on-premise PKI. It only becomes cost-efficient if implemented in a very-large enterprise organization that can easily stomach the upfront investment and continued salary and maintenance of a dedicated PKI team.

The reason most people are hesitant to switch to Cloud PKI is the issue of trust. Just like a PKI, there must be an intrinsic “chain of trust” any time you allow a 3rd party to manage something as sensitive as your network security.

Keep Control Over Your Managed PKI

But… let’s be honest. Even if a managed cloud PKI vendor has the highest rated onboarding app, is constantly recommended in relevant forums, and has glowing testimonials sourced from their thousands of satisfied customers, how do you know you can trust them?

Well, don’t take our word for it. You don’t have to hand over the keys to the kingdom to reap the benefits of an excellent managed cloud PKI. Quality cloud PKIs like our own have robust management interfaces with endlessly customizable control. You can maintain as much or as little involvement in your PKI as you want – including your own root CAs and deciding which other public and private CAs you want to trust.

When to Upgrade from On-Prem PKI to Cloud PKI

Those venerable companies that have been around for 10 or more years remember a time when the cloud wasn’t as functional, secure, and pervasive as it is today. Back then, it was the right move to bite the bullet and build your own on-premise PKI.

Nowadays, everyone more or less agrees that a cloud PKI is the way to go – but is the upgrade worth the time, effort, and money that it will take to transition?

Cloud PKI for Large Enterprises

The answer is “yes” and the time is “now”. Every day you hang onto the old on-prem network is another day lost to the sunk-costs fallacy. The Digicert whitepaper above illustrates that, massive organizations notwithstanding, the vast majority of enterprises would see an immediate cost savings by switching to managed cloud PKI.

Replacing the on-prem PKI with a managed cloud option would necessarily make some jobs redundant, but you can mitigate the resulting layoffs by reallocating savings towards R&D or providing better IT support.

If you’re concerned that a managed cloud PKI couldn’t possibly support an organization of your size, think again. SecureW2 services customers in every vertical; some with tens of thousands of devices. It’s not any extra effort to spin up a redundant Cloud RADIUS server or two, and enterprise certificate management is markedly easier than credential management – especially with the innovations pioneered by our new Dynamic Cloud RADIUS.

Ultra Secure Managed Cloud 802.1x Networks

Given the benefits of a managed cloud PKI, and that it’s typically cheaper than the on-prem alternative, it’s a no-brainer. Organizations looking to enhance their cybersecurity in 2020 need look no further than SecureW2.

We have affordable pricing plans for organizations of all sizes. Check out our pricing page here.


Learn About This Author

Patrick Grubbs

Patrick is an experienced SEO specialist at SecureW2 who also enjoys running, hiking, and reading. With a degree in Biology from College of William & Mary, he got his start in digital content by writing about his ever-expanding collection of succulents and cacti.