Hardware Security Modules (HSMs) are generally viewed as expensive and painful to maintain. It’s not surprising that a lot of HSM users are looking for a cloud-based solution that would allow them to hand over maintenance to a third party and move to an opex instead of capex model (i.e. rent the HSM instead of buying it).
At the same time, companies looking to migrate their more complex business-critical applications are finding that Cloud Service Provider (CSP) key management APIs (e.g. AWS KMS, GCP KMS, and Azure keyvault as covered in an earlier post) often don’t offer the cryptographic flexibility they need to migrate securely and in compliance.
Responding to these market forces, a new wave of cloud-hosted HSMs is arriving. Equipped with standard APIs like PKCS#11, they offer the promise of flexible crypto services while keeping keys secure from cloud application compromise.