Alpha males square up at Infosec

Alpha males square up at Infosec
Alpha males square up at Infosec

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By Doug Woodburn
01 May 2008

The great and the good of the IT security channel descended upon 
London=E2=80=99s Olympia late last month for Infosec 2008, but some left in two 
minds as to whether Europe=E2=80=99s premier IT security fair has passed its 

As ever, the three-day extravaganza provided the perfect stage for an 
alpha male contest between some of the industry=E2=80=99s top names.

McAfee emerged as the undisputed silverback, with two giant stands 
towards the front of the Grand Hall. Thick-necked England rugby prop 
Andrew Sheridan was on hand to pose for photos with punters, courtesy of 
McAfee=E2=80=99s sponsorship ties with Sale Sharks.

Juniper Networks, Sophos, ClearSwift and security distributor Wick Hill 
also fielded well-manned booths. Data security specialist Utimaco was 
among the smaller vendors punching above their weight; its pitch 
featuring a pirate ship complete with canons and treasure chests.

Cost effectiveness

Pulling in some 330 exhibitors and 12,500 attendees this year, Infosec 
will move to Earls Court in 2009 to accommodate the show=E2=80=99s expansion.

However, with Symantec, Check Point, Trend Micro and Blue Coat all 
without a direct presence this year, some attendees were unsure of 
Infosec=E2=80=99s long-term future.

David Hobson, managing director at VAR GSS, said: =E2=80=9CEvery show has a 
lifespan and maybe Infosec has peaked.

=E2=80=9CSome big vendors have taken a view on it this year: it is a lot of 
money =C2=AD can it be spent more effectively? Large stands cost =C2=A3100,000.=E2=80=9D

GSS itself had an enlarged presence at the event following its merger 
with rival Peapod last year. Hobson said the extra investment would send 
a signal to customers that the integrator can compete on an even footing 
with giants such as Vistorm and Integralis.

Size matters

But he added: =E2=80=9CIt is our tenth year at the show and we started off as 
three or four people. But if we were that size now, we would not be at 
the show. Smaller resellers would struggle to find the budget.=E2=80=9D

Paul Anderson, sales director for the UK and Ireland at Trend Micro, 
said: =E2=80=9CWe did not do Infosec last year. It may have got to the point 
where it brings value to someone trying to launch in the market, but for 
the larger vendors, the incremental value is difficult to measure.=E2=80=9D

One emerging vendor touting its wares in the UK for the first time was 
US-based database security vendor Application Security.

Ted Julian, head of strategy at the vendor, was in no doubt of Infosec=E2=80=99s 
value to his firm. =E2=80=9CThis is the premier trade show for security in all 
of Europe, and a logical place for us to launch. We have broken our 
target lead count and are only halfway through day two,=E2=80=9D he said.

=E2=80=9CThe RSA Conference is the Infosec of the US, and you cannot help 
comparing the two.

=E2=80=9CAt RSA, there was a theme: no matter what business you were in, it was 
about data security. Here, it is more about the specific features of the 
products. Given the nature of the European market, I would have expected 
more of a solutions focus.=E2=80=9D

That was a view shared by Niall Mcgrane, director of security and 
virtualisation at distributor Magirus, which launched a new four-pronged 
security approach at the show (CRN Online, 23 April).

=E2=80=9CWe have been delighted because 200 people have come through our stand 
and the feedback has been good,=E2=80=9D said Mcgrane. =E2=80=9CBut Infosec still needs 
to move towards more business-oriented approaches.=E2=80=9D

And the show still has its die-hard enthusiasts. Ian Kilpatrick, 
chairman of distributor Wick Hill, which has attended Infosec since its 
inception, was certain that both the quantity and quality of end-user 
leads had improved on 2007.

=E2=80=9CWe have been busy and the lead count has been bigger. Across our 
portfolio, we have had big names coming to us with projects for which 
they have the budget and commitment.=E2=80=9D

Kilpatrick argued that the complexity of the security market is 
prompting delegates to look for deeper consultation about technology.

=E2=80=9CPeople on the stands are open to discussions about their security 
environment because it is becoming more complex,=E2=80=9D he explained.

=E2=80=9CThere are now different ways of doing things and everyone is selling a 
different message. This creates confusion, but also an opportunity to 
provide clarity.

=E2=80=9CWe are living in a world where data is the key element. You have to 
completely review how you deal with your business,=E2=80=9D said Kilpatrick=2E

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