Identity & Security

Strengthen zero trust access with the Google Cloud CA service

As more organizations undergo digital transformation, evolve their IT infrastructure and migrate to public cloud, the role of digital certificates will grow—and grow a lot. Certificates and certificate authorities (CAs) play a key role in both modern IT models like DevOps and in the evolution of traditional enterprise IT.

In August, we announced our Certificate Authority Service (CAS)—a highly scalable and available service that simplifies and automates the management and deployment of private CAs while meeting the needs of modern developers building and running modern systems and applications. Take a look at how easy it is to set up a CA in minutes!

At launch, we showed how CAS allows DevOps security officers to focus on running the environment and offload time consuming and expensive infrastructure setup to the cloud. Moreover, as remote work continues to grow, it’s bringing a rapid increase in zero trust network access (example), and the need to issue an increasing number of certificates for many types of devices and systems outside the DevOps environment. The challenge that emerged is that the number of certificates and the rate of change both went up. It is incredibly hard to support a large WFH workforce from a traditional on-premise CA, assuming your organization even has the “premises” where it can be deployed.

To be better ready for these new WFH related scenarios,  we are introducing a new Enterprise tier that is optimized for machine and user identity. These use cases tend to favor longer lived certificates and require much more control over certificate lifecycle (e.g., ability to revoke a certificate when the user loses a device). This new tier complements the DevOps tier which is optimized for high throughput environments, and which tend to favor shorter lived certificates (e.g., for containers, micro-services, load balancers, etc.) at an exceptionally high QPS (number of certificates issued per second).

Simply put, our goal with the new Enterprise tier is to make it easy to lift and shift your existing on-premises CA. Today CAS supports “bring your own root” to allow the existing CA root of trust to continue being the root of trust for CAS. This gives you full control over your root of trust while offloading scaling and availability management to the cloud. This also gives you freedom to move workload across clouds without having to re-issue your PKI, and vastly reduces the migration cost.

Moreover, through our integration with widely deployed certificate lifecycle managers (e.g., Venafi and AppViewX), we have made the lift and shift of an existing CA to the cloud a breeze, so you can continue using the tooling that you are familiar with and simply move your CA to the cloud. CAS leverages FIPS 140-2 Level 3 validated HSMs to protect private key material. 

With the two tiers of CAS (Enterprise and DevOps), you can now address all your certificate needs (whether for your devops environments or for your corporate machine and user identity) in one place. This is great news for security engineers and CA admins in your environment as now they can use a single console to manage the certificates in the environment, create policies, audit, and react to security incidents. Visibility and expiration have always been the two biggest issues in PKI and with CAS and our partner solutions, you can solve these issues in one place.

So whether you are at the beginning of your journey of using certificates and CAs, or have an existing CA that has reached its limit to address the surge in demand (either due to WFH or your new DevOps environment), CA Service can deliver a blend of performance, convenience, ease of deployment/operation with the security and trust benefits of Google Cloud. CAS is available in preview for all customers to try. 

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