Tuesday, 23 October 2007

RSA keeps it real

I've been at RSA this week, the conference, not the company. It's the first one I've attended, but the second conference I've been to at ExCeL in London - the Exhibition Centre London, way out in the East End's Docklands for those who haven't been. The first show I attended here was called Complitech, all about compliance and technology, sounds fun right? Well, it can't have been that appealing as I sat there for 2 days (I was exhibiting for Kinamik) and watched around 12 people wandering through the doors, and I'm sure 6 of those were looking for the stairlift conference (sadly I'm not making this up) next door.

Back to RSA then, and whilst there are more than 12 people (there are at least 1000 people manning the RSA stand alone) it's not as busy as other Information Security shows I've been to this year. This felt like the InfoSec shows of yesteryear, no nurses in short skirts, no gorilla outfits, Fortify had 2 men in suits - no giant from 'Hackistan' as in previous shows - but I couldn't help but look at the girl on their booth with the legs. She must have been chilly in those shorts. I wonder how much she knows about security? I'm meandering off the point for some reason... where was I?

Oh yes, the hall was embarrassingly empty when I arrived, like it had been at Complitech for the full 2 days. I was beginning to think that maybe ExCeL just isn't the right place for a show. But then "Stairlifts and Chairlifts" had been well attended, maybe all the reduced mobility domestic assistance salesmen in the UK live in East London? I couldn't prove otherwise thinking about it. Then the keynote speeches finished - shame, I would have liked to have seen Bruce Schneier's "Security 101" lecture - and the hall became modestly full. By lunchtime it was buzzing, and in the afternoon there were people chatting all over the place, deals being struck, and drinks being drunk. This is how I remember conferences in the old days, before it all became commercialised, and I'm grateful to RSA for keeping it like this. It's less noise, more signal, and I for one, as a serious security professional for a moment, appreciate this.

I managed to miss lunch altogether by getting completely engrossed in conversation with Brian Honan, over from Dublin for the duration of the conference. An interesting man with plenty of practical knowledge and a gentle yet wicked sense of humour that only the Irish seem to be able to pull off convincingly. I rather lost track of time, but I think we chatted for about 2 hours before surfacing and the conference seemed to have almost finished without us. I think today is going to be busier, and I'm looking forward to meeting some other people today too. I find people in suits less intimidating that girls in short skirts to strike up a conversation with. I'll always be the little geek at heart - despite being a rugged and handsome young man now...

[Thanks to Karen Friar for the write up and massive picture.]

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