"Nothing attracts a crowd, like a crowd" would appear an apt epigram for the security software cluster that's fast emerging in the Republic of Ireland's second city.
Although it may not be quite yet up there with Tel Aviv or Palo Alto, Cork - with its deep well of multi-lingual and technical talent - has found itself at the centre of an invasion of multi-national security software start-ups.
Security giants Trend Micro and McAfee were the first to land, setting up EMEA HQs in Cork in 2003 and 2004.
But the next generation of IT security aces are now flocking to the "rebel city", known for its young and mobile workforce. The new darling of the industry - FireEye - now has more than 70 staff in Cork after touching down last April, while unified security management specialist AlienVault set up camp last October.
And the message from Cork's longest-serving IT security resident appears to be "bring it on".
Talking to CRN, Dervla Mannion (pictured), who runs Trend's Cork-based European operations centre, said the city's burgeoning reputation as an IT security hub had enriched, rather than hampered, the vendor's recruitment and retention strategy.
"The risk was that the new players coming in would knock on our door and steal our high performers, but that has not happened at all," she said.
"The talent pool is getting bigger. From an industry perspective, we pride ourselves on being part of a significant security cluster in Cork. It has given Cork a very strong reputation. We are often approached by industry organisations that are thinking about setting up in Cork and we see it as a positive move, and it's a trend we would encourage."
This emerging security cluster hasn't burst out of nowhere, with Ireland having for decades been a popular host for US tech firms' hubs. Lured by its generous tax regime (corporation tax currently stands at 12.5 per cent, compared with 23 per cent in the UK) and multi-lingual workforce, eight of the top 10 US IT companies have selected the Emerald Isle to house their EMEA headquarters.
While Dublin has emerged as a hotspot for consumer IT giants such as Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, Cork's strength lies in business IT, with EMC, VMware, Dell and Apple all calling the city home. Meanwhile, Cork Institute of Technology boasts of being the world's first university to launch degree programmes in cloud computing, in partnership with EMC.
This rich base of existing talent has helped feed the development of Cork's emerging security scene, said Sean O'Keefe, senior director of customer support EMEA at FireEye.
"Staff at the existing multinationals see this emerging security sector and this drives them towards us," he said. "They are upskilling themselves as they see it as a very positive emerging sector."
Emmet Florish, EMEA sales director at AlienVault, said his firm planned to almost double its Cork headcount to 20 by the end of the year.
"Cork is quite quickly becoming a hub [for business-focused technology] and what that means for people like me who are staffing up a sales and support team is there is an incredible amount of multi-lingual talent," he said.
Mannion added: "One of the biggest attractions is around talent. It has a young, adaptable, mobile workforce with the lowest median age in the EU."
Since setting up shop last April, FireEye's Cork headcount has swelled from three to 72 staff, with the total expected to break 100 this year. The EMEA hub now carries out 12 functions, including tech support, legal, finance and corporate sales. The vendor inherited a Dublin base from its recent acquisition of Mandiant and expects to employ 200 to 250 staff in Ireland by the end of 2015.
FireEye's reputation for being at the vanguard of the new breed of anti-malware solutions has acted as a recruitment sergeant for the firm, said O'Keefe.
"We catch more zero-days than anyone else in the industry and people who are interested in security are aware of that," he said.
"We are working with the universities to build a talent pool rather than taking from existing multinationals. We have to be careful that we are creating our own culture, rather than being a replica of McAfee or Trend."
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