Review of RSA

13Apr08

I’m still working on posts from a few sessions I attended but didn’t want those to hold up my review post.  Check back soon for those.  If I were grading the RSA conference it would get a B.  Being that is was my first time attending I can’t compare to prior years, but I had a good idea of what to expect.

Sessions:
While the sessions I attended were good I didn’t have a hard time deciding which to go to.  At a conference with so many sessions that surprised me a little.  I expected to be torn between a few sessions each slot but that wasn’t the case.  I thought some of the sessions lacked technical detail, being scaled back for the masses.  I guess that is a byproduct of RSA being more of a vendor conference…when is BlackHat again?  😉

My other issue with the sessions was that people were getting closed out.  You should have to register for the session to be guaranteed a seat and if there are free seats from no shows then you allow people from the waiting list.  This could easily be done since they are scanning your badge at each session anyway.

Expo Floor:
Maybe I expected too much, but the floor was a little boring.  I must have seen 35 vendors pitching some form of usb authentication tokens, some the size of an iPod.  There were also new anti-SPAM vendors.  What are we back in 2001?  Not only were they here….but there were claims of guaranteed 99% and 100% blocking with ZERO false positives.  I call BS on that.  The other disappointment was the lack of knowledge by vendors about what THEIR company did or how they did it.  I understand that not all booth workers will be able to talk in depth about product or service, but having a clue would be good.

Networking:
Here is where the conference exceeded my expectations.  I was able to meet and hang with some incredibly bright and fun people.  It was a good reality check to be chatting with others across multiple industries and find them to be facing similar issues/roadblocks.  I have already been inundated with LinkedIn requests, which is a good problem to have.

Parties:
ROCK ON!  As I expected, my liver was not ready for RSA.  I have the occasional glass or two of vino but that is usually about the extent of my alcohol consumption.  It was basically free food and drink every day and every night.  If I don’t have vodka or tequila for a while that will be fine with me.  I’m happy to report the late night parties did not stop me from attending my 8am sessions, but there were some obscenities targeted at the alarm clock each morning.

Summary:
Would I do it again, absolutely!  Anytime you can get that many people together from the tech sector good things will come of it.  Like most things in life, it is what you make of it.  You could easily just attend the sessions, walk the floor and go home but that is only a subset of the conference.  I interacted with speakers, vendors, and fellow conference attendees.  That is where I gained the most from RSA.

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