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Nuggets from RSA

Security market is tipping toward big vendors, analyst Jon Oltsik says. That's bad news for security widget vendors--and there are still a lot of them around.

After four days of endless meetings, cocktail parties, and security discussions, I had a rainy weekend in Boston to reflect on last week's RSA Conference in San Francisco. Here are some of my general impressions:

• Everyone said that they are feeling the economic pinch in their businesses with deals getting smaller and often delayed.

• Ironically, with all of the industry cost-cutting, trade shows are an absolute rip-off and this one takes the cake. Want bottled water in your booth? How about $100 for a case (i.e. 24) of 8-ounce bottles? Want a table and chairs? OK, $500 per day. How do these show organizers get away with this type of extortion?

• I noticed a much bigger presence from the VC community this year. I can only imagine that there was some back-room wheeling and dealing at fire-sale prices. Look for some deals soon.

• The security market is certainly tipping toward big vendors. IBM and Hewlett-Packard presented very compelling security stories that highlight process and IT service management--not products. Bad news for security widget vendors--and there are still a lot of them around.

• After a bit of a security hiatus, Microsoft is back and talking about its next generation of security products and strategies. I found Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie's keynote on security and privacy especially compelling and will blog about it later.

A few years ago, RSA Security (the company not the conference) CEO Art Coviello said that he didn't believe there would be a standalone security market by the end of the decade. I wouldn't go this far, but it is clear to me from this year's conference that security is slowly blending into IT and the business.

Hmm. I wouldn't be surprised at all if next year's conference is called the RSA Governance, Risk Management, and Compliance Conference--a bit cumbersome, but an increasingly more accurate description of the proceedings.

Jon Oltsik is a senior analyst at the Enterprise Strategy Group.