Celebrating My RSA Bar-Mitvah
April 29, 2009
Thirteen years. A lot has happened to me in the past thirteen years. I changed careers (used to work for the LA Dodgers), started a business, went through the dot-com bubble (ear to ear smile), went through the dot-crash (big time frown), got married (twice), stayed married (once), and have a wonderful son (Brodie).
The one constant during that time for me, is the RSA Conference. I remember one of my first conferences, when it was located on Knob Hill, and it rained the entire time. I thought to myself, that whomever sponsored the umbrellas must have made a Faustian deal with the weatherman. I have been to San Jose a number of times, as well as both sides of the Moscone center. I have never been to one Cryptographers Ball. (But have heard good things).
I was there to remember the Year of PKI. When companies like Verisign, Entrust, Baltimore an the others were flying high. I remember when PKI was reinvented as Identity and Access Management – and companies like Netegrity, Oblix, and Waveset stole the show. I remember the growth of the pure play consultancies – the Guardents, the @Stakes, the Foundstones and such. The birth of managed servcies was a fun time as well – Counterpane, RipTech, Telenesus, Luhrq, etc The good old days, when Symantec was a pure security play. Even when RSA was still a company.
I remember when the CFP was easy to fill out. One page, fifteen minues. This year, the submission process, included posting a video on YouTube. I remember being surprised when my talks were accepted. This year, I was quite disappointed when theywere rejected. Perspective.
Some memorable experiences have happened to me during the show. In 2006, as I was walking onto the show floor, I received a call that my mother was rushed to the hospital and boarded a plane to Memphis, not sure if she was going to make it or not. Most scared I have ever been in my life. Thankfully, she was/is fine. I spent the next two weeks watching all the events of the Torino Winter Olympics. I have a new appreication for the biathalon!
The most important moment for happened at my first RSA, actually coming home from it. As luck would have it, I wound up sitting from my next to Nicole Schmidt, an industry research analsyst at CIBC Openheimer. From those six hours on the plane, we built a long lasting friendship. In 2004, at a lunch meeting, Nicole made the suggestion that I meet her best friend from childhood. Michele and I were married in September of 2007.
People like to downplay the relevance of RSA. They growing sentiment is that it is a marketing party and not a platform for the latest technical advances in our profession. I look at the event for what it is and what it has become. It is THE mainstream Information Security event. It is a place where people gather and share their experiences. It is where business development deals are forged, faces are put to names, a coming out party for some, and a swan song for others.
Since returning I have heard it all both negative and positive. “I can not belive _____ did not show up”, “The speeches were lousy”, and “It cost too much”. I also heard, “I got to spend time with my friends”, “It was great to catch up with people I have lost touch with”, and ”The “party was fantastic but he music was a bit too loud”
Sounds a lot like a BarMitzvah.