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A couple of weeks ago, I gave three talks at the Infosecurity Europe conference in London, which was held on April 27-29. I was pleasantly surprised to see how well-attended it was. No, that’s an understatement. It was a packed conference.

Based on attendance, you’d be forgiven if you thought it was 1999, during the middle of the dot-com boom.

Image courtesy: gem66/Flickr

Oh, wait. We are in the middle of the security/compliance boom! IMHO, this is made more amazing that it landed in the middle of one of most capital-starved periods for IT in nearly a decade. If you think that all these hard-earned dollars are being spent on truly creating continuous compliance, this is money well spent. Yay.

If you think that these capital dollars are being thrown at a huge Band-Aid, and that information security breaches will continue to occur, and that equal dollars will be need to be spent passing next year’s audit, then not so much. Boo.

I observed the following…

  • Tons of attendees: 12,500 visitors, according to their website. And according to the fliers they passed out on Day 2, 4441 visitors on Day 1, representing a 7% increase over 2008.
  • Tons of vendors: Holy cow. Like in Chris Orr points out in his post about RSA, there were a ton of vendors there. I’m guessing there were, I can hardly believe it, 700 vendors. And most of them had basically the same messaging: security, compliance, controls.

It’s difficult to imagine talking to over 100 of these vendors, and keeping track of how they’re different. I guess that would explain all the marketing investment on, umm, scantily clad people marching around with picket signs, lots of huge, flashing signs, big speakers blaring propaganda like in George Orwell’s 1984, etc.

The Startling Contrast To Service Desk & IT Support Show

I got a wake-up call when I wandered over next door to the other conference being held at Earl’s Court, which was the Service Desk & IT Support Show. Compared to Infosecurity Europe, it was like a ghost town.

I estimated that there were about 100 vendors, and maybe a total of 600 attendees. It was a much, much smaller event.

This reinforced my conclusion that these economic times are starving ITIL projects, and that compliance deadlines are driving huge date-driven projects, which our industry is benefiting from.

Other Benefits Of Being In London

I got a chance to meet up with our UK-based colleagues, and hang out with my good buddy, Steve Chambers from VMware (@stevie_chambers). He is one smart dude… (Who apparently can drive a sub-10m lap at Nurburgring!)

Oh, and I finally met Tom Howarth (@tom_howarth), who I thoroughly enjoyed talking to, about our respective journeys, the state of our vocation, using social media, etc. Oh, and talked a lot about vWire evangelist Steve Beaver (@sbeaver), another great guy.

Questions or comments? Feel free to send me a note on Twitter! I’m @RealGeneKim.