HashiCorp Vault vs. Akeyless Vault: Which is the right secrets management solution?
HashiCorp Vault is one of the known names when it comes to secrets management, providing an extensive range of features to match the needs of different kinds of organisations. Some consider it the de facto standard for cloud and automation implementation.
Just like other leading products, though, it is bound to be challenged by new players that offer a fresh and improved take on managing enterprise secrets. Akeyless Vault is one of the new worthwhile contenders, offering features that improve on security and speed of deployment not present in HashiCorp’s solution.
Which solution is better?
Find out in the Akeyless Vault vs. HashiCorp Vault comparison below.
Deployment and setup
HashiCorp Vault deployment is often described as difficult and extremely complicated. Users describe it as cumbersome to deploy, taking a lot of time and effort.
Thus, Akeyless Vault takes the cake in this aspect of the comparison. The reason: Akeyless has a software-as-a-service solution (SaaS) option. This means that users do not need to install anything to start using the system. All they need is to sign up through a web-based interface and start taking advantage of the robust set of features.
With SaaS there is no software installed on-premises, which means there is also no need for any maintenance or updating routine. If there are errors encountered, troubleshooting is conducted quickly on the servers by the Akeyless team.
Scalability and flexibility
HashiCorp Vault and Akeyless Vault are scalable secrets managers. They can be used in any type and size of organisation. However, Akeyless earns an extra point because of its SaaS nature. It is much more convenient to deploy it for a growing base of users since there is no deployed infrastructure to install and maintain.
Flexibility-wise, the two secrets managers are similar. They can handle almost the same kinds of secrets, including passwords, metadata, database connection strings, and API keys. Both act as an internal certificate authority as well as a KMS. They can be employed in virtually any kind of enterprise or team including DevOps processes. That said, Akeyless’s core IP includes its ability to act as a FIPS 140-2 virtual HSM so you won’t need an HSM, as with HashiCorp Vault, in order to gain higher security (See “Security and privacy” below).
Features and functions
Arguably, HashiCorp has set the standard for what a dependable secrets manager should be. These include the use of arbitrary key/value secrets to be stored in the vault, dynamic secrets, data encryption, secrets leasing and renewal, and built-in support for secret revocation. Also, HashiCorp Vault is cloud-agnostic and can be used in multi-cloud environments. It also features automation to enable the use of secrets across different platforms, services, and applications without ever revealing them in discernable plain text form.
Akeyless offers similar features with some refining to make the process of managing secrets easier for all users. For one, it provides an additional graphical user interface instead of forcing all users to learn how to use the command line interface. It also has an encryption-as-a-service option to make it easy to implement field-level encryption without the need for key management.
In addition, Akeyless has developed an API compatibility with Vault OSS in terms of plugins. Thus, all community-developed plugins for Vault OSS, such as Kubernetes, Jenkins, Ansible, etc., will work with Akeyless out of the box. This means that Akeyless has the same platform coverage for interconnection, and even more.
Yet the big news is that as part of its Vault, Akeyless provides Zero-Trust Remote Access solution, which implements and combines Just-in-time-access approach, least privileges and Zero-Standing-Permissions model. This is a whole set of features that allows you to control and protect not just the secrets themselves but also the actual access to your resources and assets. Within one service, you’ll find a solution for securing work-from-home and vendor access scenarios with VPN-less approach. This is definitely an early answer to an early-newcomer product by HashiCorp named ‘Hashicorp Boundary’ that claims to be doing the same, though it is offered only as a beta Open Source project.
Both HashiCorp and Akeyless secrets managers offer excellent integration. They come with plugins to easily connect with different platforms and services including Kubernetes, Jenkins, CircCI, Chef, Ansible, Docker, and Terraform. Akeyless also sports compatibility with HashiCorp Vault OSS plugins.
HashiCorp uses a command-line interface, which is not bad for users who are used to CLI. However, it is not for everyone. IT personnel and development teams may be accustomed to it, but not everyone who will be using secrets in an enterprise is IT savvy. That’s why Akeyless Vault has the advantage regarding usability. Akeyless supports command-line control as well as a graphical user interface.
Security and privacy
HashiCorp Vault and Akeyless Vault provide secure ways of handling secrets. However, Akeyless ups the ante with its Distributed Fragments Cryptography or DFC technology. This patent-pending tech enables Akeyless customers to perform encryption and decryption by using fragments of encryption key, stored in different cloud regions / locations, without ever combining the encryption key fragments.
With DFC, it is virtually impossible for anyone to reveal the data protected by the Akeyless Vault system. For hackers or even authorities armed with court orders to access any usable data, they need to obtain all of the fragmented keys at the same time. When customers are interested, they can have one of the fragments stored on their environment, and as a result make Akeyless completely blind to the customer’s secrets’ value or encryption keys, simply because they don’t have all fragments.
Akeyless is also FIPS 140-2 certified, and this technology is approved by the US NIST. It acts as a Virtual Hardware Security Module (or Virtual HSM). In contrast, HashiCorp requires an HSM to gain greater security.
It is a given that the HashiCorp Vault pricing is on the higher end of the typical secrets management solution price range. Even HashiCorp implicitly acknowledges that its pricing is fixed and is not competitive – it does not even explicitly state its prices on its website or ads.
In contrast, Akeyless has a free version for the community that is good for up to 3 clients and 50 secrets. You may add $40 per client if interested. The Business plan starts at $1400 per month with a Silver SLA, and includes 100 clients and 5 000 secrets inside. From there, you may choose the Enterprise package with 250 clients, with various SLA configurations up to Platinum 99.99% of availability and Global coverage. Corporate packages for higher or unlimited numbers of clients and secrets are also available, where the price can be negotiated.
Both HashiCorp and Akeyless provide excellent support. HashiCorp is particularly very responsive on GitHub and has an active community of users. While Akeyless is relatively new, it is available on Slack around-the-clock, which makes both official and community support user-friendly.
Akeyless Vault, as a challenger to HashiCorp Vault, shows a lot of promise. Its features, reliability, security, and technical support are a good match to what HashiCorp has built over the years. Organisations that are looking for a good alternative to HashiCorp’s secrets management product will find a far simpler and quicker piloting process through Akeyless Vault Platform (SaaS). Users get value at a shorter time-to-deployment, simply because there is nothing to deploy, with Akeyless’ connect-and-go solution.