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Managing SSL certificates in the cloud

While the company is only selling directly to large enterprises, the tool could work for some of its hosting company partners

Symantec Corp. (NASDAQ: SYMC)  launched a new cloud management tool for secure socket layer (SSL) certificate management this week, available immediately in beta.

The Certificate Intelligence Centre is built for managing large numbers of SSL certificates. “That really is a product that’s been built for our larger enterprise customers,” said Fran Rosch, vice-president of trust services and SSL with Symantec. SSL certificates all have different expiration dates and it can be difficult to manage large amounts, he explained. “Really understanding what’s in their environment becomes a challenge for the customer.”

The tool allows administrators to see where its certificates are through a centralized, cloud-based management console. Users can also manage certificates from any Cetificate Authority (CA), not just Symantec. The tool’s launch comes following the one year mark of the security vendor’s acquisition of VeriSign. 

The beta is free and Symantec currently has several large organizations on board, including Facebook, Dow Jones and FedEx. “We think this product is great not only for these multinationals but also for our partners,” he said.

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While the product is not built to be resold by channel partners, it can work for some of Symantec’s partners that host data and manage certificates for customers, such as Tucows, Inc. he said. Rackspace, for example, is one of the hosting companies participating in the beta, using the tool to manage certificates for its customers, and by default, Symantec customers. 

Symantec will be selling the tool direct to its large enterprise customers, a strategy consistent with its other solutions, according to Rosch. That fits only about 1000 of the company’s 600,000 large enterprise customers, he said. “These are already our customers for SSL certificates,” he said, so the CIC is more about driving loyalty.

 “Symantec’s bread and butter is selling to very large enterprises direct and hitting the SMB through the channel,” Rosch said.  “We’re definitely selling it to our channel, but as far as them selling it to their end base, we don’t think it’s a good fit right now.”

“This is a pretty complex enterprise management tool,” he continued. “Most of our partners’ end customers…wouldn’t need a complex management tool.”

Once it sees general release, the CIC will have a tiered pricing model based on the number of servers being scanned. The annual subscription fees would run users between $50,000 and $250,000.