RSAC 2015: A Retrospective

RSA 2015

This year, RSA Conference boasted over 33,000 in attendance and featured 290 different sessions and 700 speakers. All of the technologies and parties that people have come to expect were present. My attendance this year made me think back to when RSA started the conference in the early 1990s, known then as the Cryptography, Standards and Public Policy forum. (You can see why they changed the name in 1993.)

Since then, RSA’s popularity has almost outgrown its venue and the enthusiasm around security is on the rise, particularly in the wake of several high profile data breaches in the past few years.

Is RSA still the predominant security conference to attend? Why do you attend: for the technology or the speakers’ content? 

Is RSA still the predominant security conference to attend?

The RSA Conference does give security vendors the opportunity to show that they are still in business and constantly re-inventing themselves. RSA has done a great job with bringing the security community together in one place to not only demo products but also listen to talks from industry leaders.

A lot of the conference happens after-hours. This when the trust and relationships are built, when the community shares experiences and lessons learned in an effort to build an information-sharing network. Innovation comes out of these after-hours meet ups. I can confidently say that there are two guys out there that met at RSA who, in a few years, will produce a new, innovative product that can change the threat landscape.

Do you attend for the technology or the speakers’ content?

I think that many attendees came to see what was new or innovative from the vendors. In the vendor halls we saw a lot of information and swag overload. We witnessed interesting activity in the booths – much of it consisted of product demos, but some was just informational.

There were not necessarily a lot of advancements in security technologies, but there was a huge improvement in the user experience. I noticed that tools are becoming user-friendlier and allowing you to have a well-informed dashboard with the relevant information you may need as a security team.

Overall, I saw some common themes: Internet of Things, Mobile Device Protection, Big Data Analytics, DevOps and, of course, Intelligence.

Intelligence has always been a background function that worked in that hole in the basement. Security researchers and intelligence analysts are now coming into the light to illustrate how they have helped produce security content for products, found lost and stolen data throughout the internet and tried to give companies a fighting chance to stay ahead of their adversaries. Research and Intelligence are key components to every good security product. 

The talks this year were very compelling and the speaker lineup was impressive. Some of the talks I attended had lines out the door and others were small and intimate but had a lot of crowd questions and participation. Human consumable content, just like technology, has to be consumed regularly to push your technical skills to the next level.

In Summary

All in all, I would have liked to see more of the smaller companies/startups that are building innovative products or services that might be game changers in the security space. To encourage such startups to have a chance to show their ideas with their peers and the general public, RSA should consider offering some type of first year/startup discount fee that affords them an opportunity to get into the conference. It can become very expensive to have a booth there, so let’s give the innovators a financial break in exchange for the chance to show us something new!

See us in CRN’s “Marketers Gone Wild: 20 Examples of Weird, Wacky Signage from RSA 2015.” 

Where will you find us next? Check out our events page for a global event schedule here.