Europe's Infosec 2014 Paints Picture of Industry in Transition

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Those who braved London's tube strike to attend Infosec 2014 will leave with the impression of both an event and industry in a state of flux.

More than 10 000 attendees will descend on 300 exhibition stalls at the annual Infosecurity conference in Olympia

LONDON -- Those who braved the tube strike to attend Infosec 2014 will leave with the impression of both an event and industry in a state of flux.

This is the IT security extravaganza's final year in Earls Court but this year's event was also noteworthy for being marred not only by industrial action but also the decision by many of the industry's biggest names not to take a direct presence.

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The world's second largest traditional anti-virus vendor McAfee Corp. failed to show up at all, while the number one and four outfits -- Symantec Corp. and Kaspersky Labs ZAO -- were only represented through partners.

But some attendees detected a wider shift in the technology being displayed at Europe's largest IT security fair.

"The whole market is moving from stopping it getting in to stopping it getting out," said Graham Jones, UK managing director of Exclusive Networks, as he glanced around the show floor yesterday.

Jones revealed the distributor has signed a distribution agreement with Darktrace, a behavioral cyberdefence solution backed by Autonomy founder Mike Lynch which he said is typical of the next generation of security technology coming through.

"Darktrace are taking a slightly different view," he said. "They're saying ‘forget everyone else; there's no whitelist or blacklist, we're just going to sit on your network and tell you what we think is dodgy'. It's all going that way: you've been breached, what are you going to do about it?"

Infosec 2014: Footfall freefall

Although event organisers were unable to divulge any preliminary daily figures, exhibitors agreed that the two-day strike had taken its toll on footfall on Tuesday and Wednesday, with today expected to be better.

However, some were convinced the RMT union had unwittingly done Infosec a favor.

"The tube strike has changed the demographics and I think ultimately for the better," said Alex Thurber, vice president of sales at WatchGuard Technologies Inc. "If somebody has gone to the trouble to get here, they want to be here. We've had less traffic than last year but I would say it's been higher quality."

Thurber agreed theOn strike wares on show this year reflect a shift in the industry that has seen traditional security defenses such as antivirus and firewalls come in for flack. Newer malware protection specialists that would claim to plug that gap, such as FireEye Inc., Bit9 and Bromuim, were there in force.

"As an industry we have to do a better job of innovating faster and that's what's so exciting about all there small companies popping up," Thurber said, adding that WatchGuard -- one of the industry's longest-standing players -- itself begins shipping its own anti-malware solution in two weeks' time.

Signs plastered around the show confirmed that Infosec is moving back to London Olympia in 2015 due to the uncertain future of Earls Court. But some attendees speculated that it is not only the venue that has had its day, with many vendors preferring to plough their cash into more targeted executive briefings.

Infosec or Infoschoomze?

With pitches and builds typically costing between a combined £40,000 and £100,000, Roy Duckles, EMEA channel director for Lieberman Software, was not convinced the show offers ROI.

"The only reason we are here, to be frank, is because Exclusive Networks offered us a £5,000, three-day use of their stand," he said.

"Lieberman did Infosec three years ago and spent a lot of money and got very little return. My personal view is that it's a pissing contest and people feel compelled to be here - the fact that some of the big vendors haven't shown up this year starts to put the writing on the wall. It's just the same old, same old and needs to be refreshed."Business card businessmen

Duckles added, "This is becoming Infoschmooze. On day three, everyone gets out their CVs and plods around dropping their business cards around, and it's no longer Infosec."

There also appear to be fewer channel firms here this year, with the UK's largest security integrator NTT Com -- formerly Integralis -- hiring out a pub nearby rather than taking a stand. Sapphire, Pentura and NTS -- as well as distributors such as Exclusive Networks, Wick Hill and Micro P -- were among the exceptions.

Jones at Exclusive Networks conceded the distributor may change tack next year.

"We don't sell direct and a lot of our bigger vendors have their own stands," he said. "So when I look at the 85 leads we got yesterday, 60 were end-user. What am I doing generating end-user leads? Should we really be here or should we just book a pub next year and spend £60,000 for three days and make it a haven for vendors to send people?"

For more channel coverage from CRN UK, visit channelweb.co.uk/.

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