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March 01, 2012

Security Enters the Age of Mammals

Having spent the week at RSA observing and talking to the security industry I feel that we are on the threshold of a new era in security. After lamenting a lack of innovation and bemoaning nothing new under the sun for the past few years, I feel that over the last two years we are seeing clear KT boundary in the security space. As Marty Roesch said to me when I had a chance to catch up with him, security is entering the age of mammals.

First of all, it is obvious that the security industry is undergoing a boom time. It seems to be awash in cash. From the size of and number of exhibitors on the show floor, the sold out and over crowded meeting rooms and the amount of people who have flown in here from all over the world, it is hard to believe the economy is a factor in the security space.  Almost every company I speak to is having a hard time filling open slots for jobs. Perhaps most of all the number and extravagance of the parties being thrown this year is like no other I can remember.  Could it be that infosec has finally arrived? Have hacktavism, cyberwar, cyber espionage and high profile breaches finally put information security in the forefront of peoples wallets, if not their minds? I don’t know if I am ready to buy that yet, but something certainly seems to have changed.

At the AGC Conference on Monday it was reported that both investment and acquisition numbers are up, IPOs are once again a viable liquidity event.

More than a money trail though, speaking with security vendors it seems that they see real opportunity in the market. As Simon Crosby said on my panel Monday at the AGC conference, the old security vendors are history. There is a greenfield for new ideas, new companies and new security to fill in the niches created and vacated.

Like mammals crawling out and taking over after the death of the dinosaurs, there are new security companies that are emerging that tackle new problems and better deal with old ones. Of course it could happen that as in the past the big, old companies will buy the new small ones, but either way the optimism in the security space is refreshing.

A big factor driving this is that IT is changing the way they do business too.  Moving away from servers on the LAN. Desktops and even laptops is creating a brave new world. Mobile devices that access apps stored on virtual servers in the cloud present an entirely different set of security issues. This model needs new solutions, delivered in new form factors.

Virtual appliances have been around a while, but they are a way point and I think everyone knows it now.  Agents talking to multi-tenant back ends are being deployed all over the place in a SaaS model. But even the agent may give way to an API  that allows the security infrastructure to interface directly into the infrastructure or platform. We are seeing a change in the IT industry akin to the rise of PC. The twin titans of mobile and cloud are disrupting IT and security will be disrupted as part of it. But out of this disruption a new type of security will emerge. Like the small mammals that came out after the dinosaurs and took over the world, these new security companies will inherit the security landscape.

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