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Alternatives to Azure Key Vault

Azure Key Vault Competitors
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Microsoft Azure Key Vault is a cryptographic and secrets management solution for storing encryption keys, certificates, and passwords. While known for its interface simplicity and robust security, users should look to Azure Key Vault alternatives if they prioritize employee onboarding automation or need quick and easy implementation. This article evaluates Azure Key Vault competitors regarding security features, pricing, and usability to identify the best alternative options.

Azure Key Vault

Brief product summary

Azure Key Vault is one of Microsoft's many computing and security management products. It's run on the Azure cloud, which allows organizations to maintain cloud security compliance with a wide range of regulatory guidelines and requirements. While primarily used for safeguarding cryptographic and API keys, Azure Key Vault can also enable enterprises to securely manage user passwords, transport layer security/secure sockets layer (TLS/SSL) digital certificates, and access tokens.  

Use cases

  • Securing keys, access credentials, and tokens used for secure access and verification to cloud applications and online services. 
  • Automating workflows for key and certificate lifecycle management, renewals, key administration, and credential provisioning to help scale cloud resources. 
  • Managing keys and secrets stored in hardware security modules (HSMs) to meet Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS) United States government requirements for NIST compliance

Pros

  • Intuitive graphical unit interface (GUI) while navigating and operating the password, certificate, and key management tools. 
  • Easy integration process with other Azure tools to boost connectivity. 
  • Reliable service regarding system uptime, secrets security, and data integrity.

Cons

  • Often requires third-party integrations to get key management capabilities typically built into most secrets management tools. 
  • Can have slow processing times for API responses, key uploads and rotations, and certificate changes.

Azure Key Vault vs. StrongDM

Brief product summary

StrongDM is a centralized control system for identity and access management (IAM) that gives administrators the ability to set granular permissions and obtain end-to-end visibility on servers, applications, clouds, and clusters.

While it's a complete infrastructure access platform (IAP), StrongDM is one of the best Azure Key Vault alternatives for credentials and secrets management. Through connectivity with popular secrets management tools, it allows centralized storage and provisioning of user passwords, secure shell (SSH) keys, and other sensitive credential data.     

Use cases

Pros

  • Straightforward pricing that uses a set, per-user, per-month model. 
  • Fills in product gaps of Azure Key Vault and other security tools by offering flexible integration options and robust security management features. 
  • Lets teams automate many access management processes and standardize reporting and logging activities across numerous databases or servers. 
  • Quick and easy deployment and fast connection with IAM and secrets management tools.     

Cons

  • Access to managed resources requires continuous access to the StrongDM API.

Azure Key Vault vs. AWS Secrets Manager

Brief product summary

AWS Secrets Manager helps oversee lifecycles and the management of database credentials, API keys, and tokens. It stands out for its overall product intuitiveness and cost scalability, which allows organizations to grow smoothly as the capacity for credential storage and API calls increases. Some of the most prominent features include secrets data storage and encryption, robust secrets-access security controls, automatic rotation for compliance, and simplified replication capabilities.   

Use cases

  • Securing and monitoring secrets data, activity, and logs in a single platform for security management and auditing purposes. 
  • Managing IAM permissions for sensitive secrets data, meeting compliance and organizational governance requirements.
  • Automating lifecycle processes such as secret rotation and replication while streamlining credential exchanges over AWS services.   

Pros

  • Lets teams provision access privileges around established IAM policies and consistently audit those privileges. 
  • Scalable, pay-as-you-go pricing for businesses with growing resource needs. 
  • Does not require code deployments to automatically rotate secrets. 
  • Simplifies compliance management with an audit trail on secrets storage and activity. 

Cons

  • Requires a learning curve for users new to the AWS ecosystem; support isn't ideal unless you enroll in the enterprise support plan. 

Azure Key Vault vs. HashiCorp Vault

Brief product summary

The Vault by HashiCorp is a total solution that combines security, storage, and access control for numerous secrets, including passwords, tokens, certificates, and keys. Its dynamic, on-demand secret generation, identity-based authentication, and multi-system capabilities enable organizations to stay secure, particularly in today's modern IT environment. Vault users can store, generate, and access credentials across various resources, like applications, databases, and infrastructure systems.     

Use cases

  • Automating secrets lifecycle management, public key infrastructure (PKI) workflows, and X.509 certificate generation. 
  • Securing Kubernetes deployments using granular secrets management within the clusters and technology stack. 
  • Managing keys, secrets, and sensitive data in a central system to enable secure access to applications, databases, infrastructure systems, and endpoints.    

Pros

  • Flexibility and customization in terms of available APIs, programming languages, data and secret types, IT resource connections, and access methods.
  • Built for a modern-day infrastructure through the use of dynamic credential generation, identity-based tokens, and integration with today's popular DevOps and security tools.
  • Great for DevOps teams securely managing secrets for Kubernetes deployments.   

Cons

  • The complex setup process for product deployment and connecting integrations requires a lot of work to get up and running. 
  • The pricing structure is complex.

About the Author

, Director, Global Customer Engineering, has worked in the information security industry for 20 years on tasks ranging from firewall administration to network security monitoring. His obsession with getting people access to answers led him to publish Practical Vulnerability Management with No Starch Press in 2020. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Clark University, an M.A. in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut, and an M.S. in Information Management from the University of Washington. To contact Andy, visit him on LinkedIn.

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