April 2015 Archives

RSA 2015: Security Mega-Con!

It was another record year for the RSA Conference USA, with a reported 33,000 attendees (an increase, I believe of 8-10k year-over-year). This year also saw the first truly full-scale double-expo event with both Moscone North and South sporting packed expo spaces with more vendors than seemed possible or reasonable. Impressive growth for our industry, to be sure, though as always in many ways it raised more questions than provided answers.

Due to limited personal funding, my trip was short (Tu-Th) this year, so I missed out on the DevOps Connect event Monday, which I heard was phenomenal. I also didn't get a chance to look at Innovation Sandbox, though given prior year experiences I wasn't too disappointed. I did wish I could have caught Amit Yoran's first opening keynote as RSA big chief, but alas it wasn't to be...

(Note: To be up front, two things to bear in mind: 1) Yes, my talk was selected for this track. 2) I started this piece before selections were announced but held off on publishing until after selection announcements were made as I wanted to see how things played out.)

For the first time, the RSA Conference US 2015 has added a track for crowdsourced talks (original announcement). This track provided an opportunity for submissions to be voted on by the population at large (not just registered attendees), which I found to be very cool. For me, it provided a great opportunity to see if my proposed talk title resonated with people.

Overall, I'm very excited about this opportunity and advancement. The process wasn't perfect by any means (see Britta Glade's reflective post on changes for next year), but overall the outcome appears to me to be a good selection of new talks.

Of course, there were a couple nits, including active ballot stuffing (see one submitter's "theoretical" description - unsurprisingly, his 4 talks held top-5 ranking on the leaderboard throughout voting... and he's not on the final speaker list).

What I found most egregious, however, was the dearth of vendor talks, many of which failed to even try to appear like something other than shilling (I mean, come on Ken Levine, do you seriously expect us to believe you'd give a talk on "why DLP sucks" and not distinguish "except for my company" given your position as CEO of a DLP company?). This is why we can't have nice things. What was created as an opportunity for talks to be included in the program that might not otherwise get noticed or accepted ended up looking like a race between vendors to see who's marketing team and customer base could stuff the ballot box better. *sigh*

The good news is that the judges did an excellent job following-through and making sure that selected talks represent a reasonable value proposition (no shilling!) for attendees. Big kudos to the judges for not being afraid to dive down into the vote rankings to pull out what appears to be a really awesome list of presentations (here's the final list).

Now it's up to attendees to help make this track truly successful! I hope that everyone registered to attend the confernece will come spend some time in the crowdsourced track to support speakers, whether you voted for them or not. If you want to have your voices heard, then participation and support for innovating new approaches is critical!

I look forward to catching up with everyone in San Francisco. I'll be there Tues-Thurs (including, of course, speaking at 9:10am PT on Thursday). Ping me on twitter (@falconsview) if you want to coordinate crossing paths. :)

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