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Digital SSL Market Heats Up with Comodo, DigiCert-Symantec M&A

Cybersecurity Shield

… questionable website-authentication certificates issued by Symantec’s PKI business. As a result, a Google Chrome team and the PKI community came up with a plan to reduce, and ultimately remove, trust in Symantec’s infrastructure in order to uphold users’ security and privacy when browsing the web, according to this Google blog.

DigiCert's Flavio Martins

DigiCert’s Flavio Martins

Flavio Martins, executive vice president, support and validation, at DigiCert, didn’t shy away from the Google controversy.

“In terms of the Google relationship, we’ve been transparent with Google’s team in terms of what our approach is to address their requirements. We not only agreed to meet the deadlines that they set, but we’re actually ahead of schedule in terms of the implementation of that. We see that as a positive step forward in making sure that as we look to transition Symantec customers to DigiCert’s certificate platform, there’s no interruption and very little that they’d have to do. The process will be seamless from the customer standpoint,” he explained.

There hasn’t been a mass exit from the company as the Google debacle has unfolded, according to Martins.

“We’ve been in close contact with customers throughout this process,” he said.

Digital certificates are a steady and profitable business that’s been around for years, while maybe not a high-growth business compared to other areas of security. That said, there’s a lot going on that Bekker says makes digital certificate business notable.

“[That’s] thanks to concerns of the NSA and government of the past few years, and a lot more website traffic being encrypted – about 50 percent of all website traffic – and that’s likely to increase over the next year, driving up the demand for digital certificates,” he said. Looking a bit further ahead, IoT is expected to be a big driver and emerging market for digital certificates.

Regarding IoT, “You’re going to need some way to authenticate IoT devices, which are going to be in the billions if not trillions, and the traffic flowing between devices will need to be encrypted,” Bekker said.

The channel – VARs, MSPs, IT solution providers, IT integrators, Web hosting companies, for example – is a big part of the digital-certificate market, selling a lot of SSL certificates to their customers. Bill Connor, chairman of the board of directors, and president and CEO of SonicWall, said that the channel is strategic to Francisco Partners.

“We’re also seeing more interest from new channels, that quite frankly, feel that they have been let down because of what’s happening on the West Coast [referring to the Google-Symantec issue].”

Martins agreed that partners are strategic to the company’s go-to-market strategy.

“Partners oftentimes leverage their unique customer relationship because they understand the exact needs of niche markets in terms of their end customers. Partners also understand the technology that we develop in our platform and marry those two into addressing the needs of the customer,” he said.

Symantec has focused on the enterprise partners; DigiCert worked more with SMB-size partners, he noted.

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