There is no stopping the train now that it’s rolling. Here is the final key theme that we expect to see at the show, and yes it’s all about the cloud. And yes, I managed to work a Jimmy Buffett lyric into the piece. Rich 1, Internet 0.

Cloud Everything. Again. We’re Bored Now.

The cloud first appeared in this illustrious guide a mere three or four years ago. The first year it was all hype – with no products, few vendors realized that cloud computing had nothing at all to do with NOAA, and plenty of security pros thought they could just block the cloud at the firewall. The following year was all cloud washing, as booths branded themselves with more than sticky notes saying “We Heart Cloud,” but again, almost nobody did more than wrap a custom-hardware-accelerated platform onto a commodity hypervisor. But the last year or so we saw glimmers of hope, with not only a few real (okay, virtual) products, cloud curious security pros starting to gain a little experience, and more honest to goodness native cloud products. (Apologies to the half-dozen cloud native vendors who have been around for more than a few years, and don’t worry, we know who you are.)

We honestly hoped to drop the cloud from our key themes, but this is one trend with legs. More accurately, cloud computing is progressing nicely through the adoption cycle, deep into the early mainstream. The problem is that many vendors recognize the cloud will affect their business, but don’t yet understand exactly how, and find themselves more in tactical response mode. They have products, but they are mostly adaptations of existing tools rather than the ground-up rebuilds that will be required. There are more cloud native tools on the market now, but the number is still relatively small, and we will still see massive cloud washing on the show floor. While we’re at it, we may was well lump in Software Defined Networking, though ‘SDN-washing’ doesn’t really roll off the tongue.

Two areas you will see hyped on the show floor which provides real benefits are Security as a Service (SECaaS – say it loud and love it), and threat intelligence. Vendors may be slow to rearchitect their products to protect native cloud infrastructure and workloads, but they are doing a good job of pushing their own products into the cloud, and collective intelligence breaks some of the information sharing walls that have held security back for decades.

But here is all you need to know about what you will see across the show – big financial institutions are all kicking around various cloud projects. The sharks smell the money, unlike in previous years when it was about looking good for the press and early adopters. In the immortal words of the great sage Jimmy Buffett, “Can you feel them circling honey, can you feel them schooling around? You got fins to right, fins to the left, and you’re the only game in town.”