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.

L’chaim RSA!!

Posted by lee | Filed Under Personal, Security Industry, Uncategorized 


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