This morning Dr. Rothman was kind enough to set me up for my last pre-RSA blog post with his Top 3 RSA Themes. It seems that every year there’s some big theme among the show floor vendors. I also can’t make it through a call, especially with VCs, without someone asking, “What’s exciting?”

The truth is I agree with Mike that the days of hot have long cooled. We’re very much an industry now, and if I see something creative it’s often so engineering driven as to be doomed to failure (sorry guys, CLIs don’t cut it anymore). Since Mike was kind enough to post his themes, I’ll be kind enough to post my opinions of them and my own predictions. This is pretty negative until the end, mostly because we’re talking macro trends, not the individual innovation and maturation that really advance the industry.

(Warning, I use really bad words and uglier metaphors; if you don’t like being offended, skip this one. It’s a Friday, and this isn’t my most professional post).

Virtualization Security

This is the one theme I can’t argue with. We’ll see a TON of marketing around virtualization, and nearly no products that actually provide any security. Virtualization is hot even if security isn’t, and what we’ll see is the marketing land grab as everyone sprays marketing piss everywhere to cock block the competition.


I really hope Mike is wrong that GRC will be a big theme. If he’s right, I’ll be spewing vomit all over the show floor before I even start bingeing. GRC is nothing more than a pathetic attempt by technology vendors to ass-kiss their way into an elevator pitch to executives who don’t give a rat’s ass about technology. GRC tools are little more than pretty dashboards that don’t actually help anyone get their jobs done on a day to day basis. Every CEO/CFO loves them when they see them, but there is no person in the organization with operational responsibility to use them on a day to day basis. Thus there is practically no market; and what few companies buy these things don’t end up using them except for quarterly reports. On top of that, the vendors charge way too much for this crap.

On the other end, we have useful security management and reporting tools that get branded GRC. This isn’t lipstick on a pig, it’s smearing crap on a supermodel. Some people are into it, but they are seriously whacked in the head. These tools still have value, but you might have to dig past the marketing BS to get there. The more “GRC” they pile on, the harder it will be to find the useful bits and get your job done. Here’s a hint folks- people have jobs; give them tools that directly help them operationally get their job done on a day to day basis. If it craps pretty reports for the auditors, so much the better.

Security in the cloud

I’m going to split this one a bit. On the one side is true in-the-cloud security; ISPs and other providers filtering before things hit you. It’s very useful, but I don’t think we’ll see it as a big trend.

The next big trend is services in general, but I don’t consider these in the cloud. Services are a great way to gouge clients (as a consultant I should know) and more and more vendors want in on the action. Everyone’s tired of IBM having all the client-reaping fun. Security services in general will definitely be a top 5 trend. It’s not all bad- there are a lot of really good services emerging, but it’s a buyer-beware market and you really need to do your research and make sure you have outs if it isn’t working.

And now a few of my trend predictions…

Data leakage that isn’t DLP

Everyone here knows I’m a fan of DLP; what I’m not a fan of is random garbage calling itself DLP because it prevents “data leaks”. I blame Nick Selby for this one since he’s been lumping a bunch of things together under Anti Data Leakage. Yes, your firewall stops data leaks if you turn all the ports off, but that isn’t DLP.

This year will be the year of abuse for the term DLP, but hopefully we can move the discussion forward to information-centric security where many of these non-DLP tools will provide value. Once someone else buys them and stuffs them into a suite, that is.

Network performance you don’t need

Remember, vendors are like politicians and lie to us because we want them to. You probably don’t need 10 gigabit network performance, but you’re going to ask for it, and someone is going to tell you you’re getting it. Even when you’re not, but you’ll never notice anyway.

The Laundry List

Stealing from Mike, here are a few other trends we’ll see:

Anti-botnets. Anti-malware we thought our AV vendors were already doing. Encryption integrated with other information-centric tools (this one is good). Encryption integrated with random crap on the endpoint that has nothing to do with encryption. All things with 2.0 in the name.

I’m a bit cynical here, but that’s because RSA is more about marketing than anything else. In every one of these categories there are good products, but RSA isn’t the place to be an honest vendor and have your ass handed to you by your competition. There will definitely be some really great stuff, probably some of it new, but the major trends are always about jumping on the bandwagon (that’s why they’re trends).

From a coverage standpoint I’ll be doing my best to give you a feel for RSA, minus the hangovers. I don’t get to attend many sessions, including the keynotes, but the news sites do a good job of covering those (besides, they’re nothing more than $100,000 marketing pitches). Martin and I will be interviewing and podcasting from the event and posting everything in short segments up on

Since my shoulder won’t let me lug my laptop around, I’ll be using the iPhone (when there’s coverage) and posts may be pretty darn short.

See you at the parties…