DigiCert sees enterprise channel expansion with closing of Symantec Website Security deal

DigiCert, which inherited Symantec's problems with Google and its potential impact on brand credibility, says it is ahead of the December 1 schedule for the reissuance of Symantec certifications.

Flavio Martins, DigiCert’s Executive Vice President, Support and Validation

Identity and encryption solution vendor DigiCert has completed the acquisition of Symantec’s Website Security and related public key infrastructure [PKI] solutions, for $USD 950 million and a 30 per cent stake in itself. The move instantly makes DigiCert the global market leader in the space. It will also have significant channel ramifications. While DigiCert has been selling to very large enterprises, it did so through its direct arm. They expect that Symantec’s large enterprise-focused channel will significantly expand their enterprise business.

“We have been working with many large enterprise organizations like Facebook, IBM, Microsoft and others, who have complicated back-end infrastructures that we help to secure,” said Flavio Martins, DigiCert’s Chief Operating Officer, who becomes Executive Vice President, Support and Validation, in the new organization.

. “We have a strong and secure track record.”

DigiCert has a hybrid go-to-market model, but these enterprise customers have been handled by DigiCert’s direct team. Their channel until now has been more concentrated on the SMB space.

“We have focused more on the SMB partner landscape, but we see this as a great opportunity to expand our influence in the enterprise channel,” Martins said. “Symantec has a very strong, robust partner ecosystem and some great partners.”

Martins said that they aren’t expecting channel conflict issues given the breadth of the enterprise and the verticalized nature of enterprise partners in this space.

“We have found that partners are focused on being able to meet the specific needs of particular niches and verticals,” he indicated.

Lehi, Utah-based DigiCert has been in business since 2003, but received a major cash infusion two years ago when venture capital firm Thoma Bravo acquired a majority stake.

“Thoma Bravo has been a great strategic partner in assisting and enabling us with vision going forward,” Martins said. “We spent the last couple of years developing a fast, new platform that is capable of covering billions of certifications, as we anticipated a significant growth from the development of the Internet of Things as well as the growth of emerging new markets. This new, modern platform gives us the technology we needed to scale to the growth of the industry.”

This scalability will now be useful in accommodating the business acquired from Symantec, which is approximately four times the size of their own.

“The platform is well suited to absorb Symantec’s customer base,” Martins said. “From the Symantec side, in addition to bringing an established enterprise base of customers, and a strong base of talent, they also have capabilities to automate SSL. It brings together the best of both worlds.”

The acquisition also brings to DigiCert something that was less than the best. Browser developers – notably Google – accused Symantec of being lax in its procedures for issuing SSL certificates, by allowing several organizations to issue certificates without proper oversight. Google threatened to stop recognizing Symantec certificates, and ultimately agreed to a Symantec proposal to reissue all certificates by December 1, 2017, and link them to a new root certificate held by an independent Managed Partner Infrastructure.

“The issues that Symantec had were unique to them.” Martins said. “We have always had a good and close relationship with Google. Google has outlined the expected transition plans and we have replied with how this would take place and meet their timelines. We have had operational and technical teams working to enable this transition to the DigiCert platform.

“We are ahead of schedule for the Google deadline of December 1 for complete cutover,” Martins added. “Customers and partners can expect by all certificate reissuance requests will be fulfilled by that date. There will be very little interruption. Google suggested that Symantec should move to an independent certification platform, and that’s what we will provide. From the customer side, there is little they will need to do. They will use the same portal as before. The difference now is that the DigiCert team will fulfil those requests.”

Martins said that despite Symantec’s troubles here, they haven’t seen a lot of their customers leave.

“We haven’t seen a mass exodus of Symantec customers,” he said. “They are looking for reassurances there will be a strong stable platform, and that their needs will be able to be fulfilled. We have been communicating with customers to ensure that this will be the case.”