Blogger: Phil Schacter
Going into this year’s RSA show I had some concerns that the economy and travel budget restrictions would further devolve the show into primarily a vendor networking event. My somewhat lowered expectations were surpassed with a turnout that was only slightly less than last year, and learning experiences that leveraged the time and place of the RSA show as a gathering of the security community. As usual my email InBox was spammed by invitations to vendor-sponsored hospitality events, vendor meetings to discuss show announcements, and information on meetings by various industry groups during RSA show week.
While still dwarfed by Interop, the RSA show is a focused meeting of 10 to 15 thousand security practitioners and is symptomatic of a healthy industry segment, and a community of organizations that recognize the value of keeping current on developments and defenses to protect their information, applications, systems, and network infrastructure. In addition to 30 pre-scheduled meetings with specific vendors there were many other casual conversations and reconnecting with people you haven’t seen since last year’s show, or last year’s Catalyst conference. The overall sense of these conversations is that the market demand for security is strong and growing stronger. Security vendors are growing their revenues during a weak economy. Organizations making purchases of security products and services are negotiating harder and it’s clear that no one is paying full list price anymore.
Nothing revolutionary on the show floor (what I saw of it in between meetings with vendors). Lots of focus on web threat vector, security services in the cloud, hybrid models involving some cloud-delivered pieces, virtualization security, security services that can be hosted in a virtual environment or blade in a multi-function box, and lots of appliances of all manner of description. Many of the established security vendors you’d expect to see, and lots of smaller ones trying to attract attention in the US market – either by finding good channel partners or by attracting a larger vendor interested in acquiring the company and its technology.
I’ve also come to the conclusion that everyone that attends the RSA show has a different experience. Some unique mix of networking, education, and exposure to the commercial aspects of a trade show. The special events that occur during show week include meetings by Concordia Group, Cloud Security Summit, Trusted Computing Group, Mini-Metricon, and others provide an opportunity to learn, interact and get involved. The conference keynotes and educational sessions provide access to knowledgeable experts, but with a heavy dose of vendor messaging. But let’s not forget that this is also a trade show for the IT security industry, and a chance to survey the latest offerings from hundreds of vendors. Finally, and perhaps the best aspect of RSA show week is the networking and cross-pollination of ideas that occurs between security professionals, on both sides of the vendor relationship. It’s an exhausting show with long days, but from my perspective well worth the energy and time investment.