RSA Conference US 2019 – Wrap up

Contributed by Research Director’s Scott Crawford and Dan Kennedy

In case you missed it, the annual RSA Conference US – one of information security’s premier showcases – was held earlier this month in San Francisco. As per usual, our Info Security team was on site alongside the other 42,500 attendees.

Innovation was prominently highlighted at RSAC with the annual Innovation Sandbox startup competition. Analyst Pat Daly said the following about the competition, “At the startup end of the spectrum, the top two finalists at this year's Innovation Sandbox, Axonius and Duality Technologies, couldn't have been more different. Whereas Duality claims to have discovered the holy grail by solving the scale and performance issues of homomorphic encryption, Axonius focuses on the somewhat less glamorous problem of asset management by aggregating information from across an enterprise's IT and security architecture to generate an up-to-date asset inventory. It is very telling that, between these two vendors, it was the long-standing problem solved by Axonius that won out against Duality's shiny new offering. While the security industry is constantly looking ahead to the next disruptive technology, whether it is containers, serverless computing, IoT, zero-trust or (in this case) homomorphic encryption, the results of the sandbox show that there is still definite value to be created in solving difficult problems that have nagged at enterprises for decades.”

Despite RSAC’s continued focus on innovation, the sense we picked up from attendees on the show floor was a lot of 'more of the same.' While we find this a bit discouraging – given the increasingly critical role security needs to play in the growing penetration of digital transformation – there were some noteworthy exceptions. It may surprise some that a couple of these weren't the moves of startups, but of strategic vendors introducing a new sort of disruption to the market.

We see these disruptions as examples of an even larger trend, which was the central theme at the (well-attended) annual 451 Research RSA Conference breakfast: the 'innovator's dilemma' and how it threatens existing players in infosec. These players face a direct challenge, not from other vendors of stand-alone products in markets segmented from the rest of IT, but from the cloud hyperscalers and innovators about how IT is developed, deployed and run. These disruptors are redefining the very nature of technology and are incorporating security more directly into concepts from 'GitOps' to cloud-native techniques. This leaves many of security's incumbents facing a daunting choice: continue to cultivate what has succeeded up to now, at the risk being left behind in the future, or embrace today's disruption at the cost of further investment in a winning legacy strategy.

There were many key security trends covered at the RSA Conference such as security analytics, endpoint security, cloud security, zero-trust, managed services, network defense, DevSecOps, regulation and privacy. Our team provides more commentary on the 2019 RSA Conference in a Market Insight report, available through our Research Dashboard. Not a current subscriber? Apply for Trial.
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