The great and the good of the IT security channel descended upon London’s Olympia late last month for Infosec 2008, but some left in two minds as to whether Europe’s premier IT security fair has passed its peak.
As ever, the three-day extravaganza provided the perfect stage for an alpha male contest between some of the industry’s 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’s 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.
Pulling in some 330 exhibitors and 12,500 attendees this year, Infosec will move to Earls Court in 2009 to accommodate the show’s expansion.
However, with Symantec, Check Point, Trend Micro and Blue Coat all without a
direct presence this year, some attendees were unsure of Infosec’s long-term
David Hobson, managing director at VAR GSS, said: “Every show has a lifespan and maybe Infosec has peaked.
“Some big vendors have taken a view on it this year: it is a lot of money can it be spent more effectively? Large stands cost £100,000.”
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.
But he added: “It 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.”
Paul Anderson, sales director for the UK and Ireland at Trend Micro, said: “We 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.”
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’s value to his firm. “This 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,” he said.
“The RSA Conference is the Infosec of the US, and you cannot help comparing the two.
“At 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.”
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).
“We have been delighted because 200 people have come through our stand and the feedback has been good,” said Mcgrane. “But Infosec still needs to move towards more business-oriented approaches.”
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
“We 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.”
Kilpatrick argued that the complexity of the security market is prompting delegates to look for deeper consultation about technology.
“People on the stands are open to discussions about their security environment because it is becoming more complex,” he explained.
“There are now different ways of doing things and everyone is selling a
different message. This creates confusion, but also an opportunity to provide
“We are living in a world where data is the key element. You have to completely review how you deal with your business,” said Kilpatrick.
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