SSH (Secure Shell) keys provide remote access to devices, like servers and ADCs (Application Delivery Controller – a device placed between web/application servers and client machines to perform load balancing, rate shaping, SSL offloading, etc.), that make up the network infrastructure. They resemble passwords in that they grant controlled access–deciding who gets to do what. Similar to passwords, SSH keys also require policies, provisioning, and termination.
SSH keys also come in pairs, with each pair made of a public and a private key. The private key should be kept secret by the user while the public key can be shared freely with any SSH server that you wish to connect to.
SSH keys are primarily used for managing and automating network infrastructure configuration.
They are also used to automate file transfers between applications, which helps in easy integration, and for single sign-ons to multiple systems.