Redirecting you to
Blog Post Feb 29, 2024

Total cost of ownership for an SSL/TLS certificate manager platform

Discover the importance of Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) in cybersecurity. Evaluate Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), factoring in purchase, maintenance, labor costs for informed decisions on SSL/TLS certificate management.

Table of Contents

Total Cost of Ownership for an Automated Certificate Manager

Certificate Lifecycle Management (CLM) is a key component of any cybersecurity strategy, ensuring secure online data exchange and regulatory compliance. As such, CLM automation technology is also increasing in popularity among enterprises, but should you hop onto the bandwagon?

Before investing in any software or service, it's essential to first understand its total cost of ownership (TCO)— a comparison of all costs for owning the product and performing the same functions through other means when you don’t own the product. the estimated cost of using a product or service over its lifetime. Aside from the purchase price or subscription fee, make sure to account for the operating costs associated with installation, maintenance, implementation, training, and administration. As platforms don’t manage themselves, you also have to include any labor costs for operating the machine as compared to the total labor costs of doing the same thing without the platform.

The TCO and ROI of using a CLM automation platform depend on the type and number of certificates a business has, the complexity of its IT infrastructure, the labor costs, and more. Organizations must consider all the variables and risk factors to make an informed decision.

In this guide, we explore the multipliers and the formula for calculating the TCO of SSL/TLS certificate management.

Certificate manager cost: Calculating the TCO for CLM

A CLM automation platform like Sectigo Certificate Manager (SCM) allows you to automate certificate renewals, deployment, discovery, revocation, and replacement. You can improve visibility into your certificate landscape, streamline workflows, and increase IT productivity. For example, you may incorporate CLM into your IT workflows and set up notifications through your preferred channels (e.g., Slack) to improve efficiency.

Let's look at what it costs to implement a CLM automation tool vs. handling the same tasks manually.

TCO of CLM: The multipliers

Many factors affect the true cost of ownership of managing digital certificates. The variables to address in your formula include:

1. The cost of manual installation and renewal

This refers to the number of hours it takes for someone to install and renew one certificate. It involves manually obtaining the certificate from a Certificate Authority (CA), configuring server files, and all the steps in between. It typically takes an experienced professional 2 hours to install a certificate and an hour to renew one. Multiply the time required by the hourly rate to estimate the cost of this process.

2. The number of certificates and servers

Your infrastructure setup, the number of web servers you have (e.g., individual web servers, a single web server that hosts several subdomains), and the complexity of the configuration files will impact your CLM effort. A technical team member can provide the total count and help you understand the time and labor involved in renewing your certificates.

3. Certificate lifespan

The current maximum validity period of an SSL/TLS certificate is 398 days. Since you should renew a certificate before its expiration, most companies renew at a yearly cadence. However, certificate lifespans are shortening and Google has announced its intention to reduce the maximum validity period to 90 days. The change will increase the renewal frequency to more than five times yearly.

By the way, I don’t understand why this message is having such trouble sinking in.

4. Risk of outages

Outages and service disruptions aren't uncommon for companies relying on manual processes to renew and manage their certificates. Over 98% of large enterprises say an hour of downtime per year costs their company over $100,000. That's $1,667 per minute of downtime for a single server. If you have 10 servers with critical business applications or data assets, you're looking at $16,670 per minute!

The hard costs of correcting the outages depend on the type of disruption (e.g., does it affect your intranet or a customer-facing e-commerce site?) and how long it takes to fix. The root cause isn't always easy to identify manually without the visibility and discovery capability of a CLM automation tool. Also, consider other indirect costs, like lost business, reduced productivity, lost employee time, Service Level Agreement (SLA) penalties, and regulatory fines.

Certificate Manager Pricing: The final formula for calculating the TCO of CLM

You can calculate the total cost of CLM by plugging in the variables based on your organization's requirements and circumstances:

TCO (per year) = cost of software + [ number of hours required to obtain, install, and configure one certificate x hourly labor cost x number of certificates x frequency of renewal (# per year) ] + [ likelihood of outage (%) x cost of an outage ]

With the average modern enterprise managing over 50,000 certificates, the cost of CLM automation software is quickly offset by the reduction of labor costs associated with renewing, installing, and configuring numerous certificates and the likelihood of outages. Over the years, we've seen irrefutable proof that the ROI of CLM automation is clear and an easy pay-off.

The impact of 90-day certificates

Google's announcement of its intention to reduce certificate lifespans to 90-days will shift increase renewal frequency by more than five times a year.

The sheer number of certificates requiring constant attention will dramatically increase the chances of something falling through the cracks and causing outages if you rely on manual processes. As such, the risks and costs of manual certificate management will multiply substantially, and implementing an automated solution will become an obvious choice.

Finding the right certificate management solution

The costs and risks of manual certificate management have become untenable. Oversights and delays can lead to security risks, including costly downtime, increased vulnerability to security breaches, service disruptions, delayed response to security incidents, and delayed or missed revocations.

These issues may cause lost business and productivity, regulatory and legal issues, a tarnished reputation, poor customer experience, frustrated employees, and increased administrative burden due to the lack of centralized visibility and control.

Implementing an automated CLM solution typically results in a lower TCO than manual processes for organizations managing many certificates. We encourage you to follow the formula above to see if automation is right for your organization. If it is, the next question is, what should you look for in a CLM automation solution?

What a CLM automation solution should do for you

Your platform should allow you to automate every aspect of CLM, including discovery, issuance, deployment, installation, renewal, and revocation. It should be CA-agnostic, allowing you to manage all your certificates in one place and consolidate workflows for improved control and real-time visibility while reducing administrative burden.

Also, it should integrate with leading technology platforms to provide customization and deployment flexibility. For example, Sectigo Certificate Manager is an open, interoperable, easy-to-deploy CLM platform. You can consolidate your processes and easily integrate our solution into your existing infrastructure.

In today's IT environment, where security should not be an afterthought, effective CLM is more critical than ever. Sectigo Certificate Manager is a leading CLM automation solution trusted by enterprises. It offers single-pane-of-glass management for all certificates and allows you to achieve rapid time to value via multi-tenancy. Learn more about SCM and start your free trial to experience the cost-saving advantage of CLM automation.