In preparing for the CISSP exam, the course material seems to emphasize a distinct role between a Certificate Authority and a Registration Authority. As per the study guide description:
Registration authorities (RAs) assist CAs with the burden of verifying users' identities prior to issuing digital certificates. They do not directly issue certificates themselves, but they play an important role in the certification process, allowing CAs to remotely validate user identities.
Is this all an internal functional process/role that customers don't really see? If I go to CA vendor "Widget Certs, Inc" and submit the CSR via the web site, it seems like this all gets processed by a singular entity.
To make things more confusing... the course material later states:
When you want to obtain a digital certificate, you must first prove your identity to the CA in some manner; this process is called enrollment.