GlobalSign Blog

10 May 2017

The Value and Benefits of IT Automation

What Does It Mean for Enterprise Digital Certificate Management?

In today’s digital world, the backbone of any organization is its information technology (IT) and the individuals that support, manage and secure these systems. The role of IT in business has rapidly evolved from mainframes to desktops to client/server computing to virtualization and cloud-based technologies.

Throughout this evolution, IT staff face more and more management challenges as systems grow in complexity, business needs change and up-time becomes uber-critical. With so much to do and support, the question becomes 'How can IT staff continually do more with less?'.

The answer is automation.

Over the years, security has become essential to the IT world. The need to protect the internal infrastructure as well as external facing systems has added to the management burden. Technology vendors have recognized this and continue to evolve their solutions which automate functions that save time and money.

Some examples over the years of vendors automating security tools and solutions include:

  • Virus scanning: Some of us may remember when virus scanning wasn't the only manual process we had to do, keeping the scanning tools up to date was also a manual process. Much of this work was done by the IT admins going from machine to machine to make sure the tools were updated and that PCs were free of viruses. These tools became more and more automated to the point where many of us as users couldn't even tell if they were installed on our machines until we were alerted of an issue.
  • Patch management: In the early 2000s, IT staff faced a major burden of keeping operating systems, firmware and applications up to date with a growing number of security patches. Even as some software vendors like Microsoft consolidated patch release to what became known as “Patch Tuesday,” IT staff had a hard time manually deploying patches to every PC in the environment. Before you knew it, an entirely new set of technology vendors entered the market that could automate patch management. No more manual patch management and plenty of time to spare.
  • Intrusion prevention and firewalls: Over time, these devices have become smarter. The sophistication of the software can detect anomalies in traffic as it is being inspected to flag and alert IT staff that there may be an attack on the network. Automating alerting and blocking of suspicious traffic has all but eliminated the need to manually analyze log data to find the problems. Many of these products self-update today and have become 'set-it-and-forget-it' type devices that help keep your organization secure.
  • Digital Certificate management: As certificates have become more important to every organizations’ layered security approach, there are potentially thousands of certificates in a single enterprise that need to be managed. The challenging part of certificate administration is that they have a lifecycle that needs to be managed from ordering to issuance to revocation and renewal. If even a single expired certificate is not renewed, it can have a major impact on your business – potentially rendering a critical system inaccessible. We are still amazed how many “major” organizations still manually manage certificates from using spreadsheets to track validity to manually installing certificates on the many servers and devices in their infrastructure. We’ll address how you can automate this now.

Automating Certificate Management

Digital Certificates are being used in so many security applications today, from securing websites and servers, providing multi-factor authentication, encrypting and securing email, digitally signing documents and more. How can you keep up with certificate management? We believe it’s all about automating the process. There are two parts to automating certificate management – ordering/issuing and ongoing lifecycle management - that can free up time immediately, providing greater efficiency and cost savings.

Ordering and Issuing

We provide a cloud-based managed Public Key Infrastructure (MPKI) that enables you to easily order the certificates to secure what you need. You do not need to be a cryptographic expert or have to maintain your own internal CA, such as Microsoft CA. GlobalSign adds more value by having the ability to integrate with your existing technology and automate certificate issuance.

We offer a seamless integration with Active Directory to completely automate the installation and provisioning of certificates on all Windows domain joined devices. By leveraging group policy, you determine which endpoints get which types of certificates. Additional integrations with MDM solutions like MobileIron and Airwatch, lets you automate deployment of certificates for mobile devices. And with APIs and other protocol support such as ACME and SCEP, you can add Linux, Ma and networking devices. You’ll quickly see a return on your investment by eliminating this manual process throughout your IT infrastructure.

Lifecycle Management

As mentioned earlier, certificates have a shelf-life or more technically a 'validity period'. When the validity period is up, the certificate needs to be renewed. Adding to the challenge is the fact that you probably didn’t order and issue all of your certificates at the same time. So, you will have certificates that expire over various periods of time.

Now, think about how many certificates you have installed. Are they from a single certificate vendor or many vendors? Manual management is risky to say the least. Automating certificate management is a best practice today and a must. With our hosted MPKI platform, you can automatically issue and manage certificates throughout their lifecycle, including renewal, saving valuable IT resources and reducing the risk of expired certificates and resultant disruption in business workflows.

How to Get Started

Check out our on-demand webcast PKI Automation for Mixed Environments. We make automating certificate management easy. Learn more about enterprise PKI automation and management and then let us know how we can help you get started today.

Share this Post