OK, not technically day one since there were some sessions that kicked off earlier but today was the keynotes and official start of RSA.
The day started obscenely early, not just because the first keynote began at 8am but because a PR woke me at dawn with a call because she didn't know what time zone I was in. I kept a civil tongue, barely.
Art Coviello set the tone for the day's proceedings with a speech extolling the virtues of interoperability and cooperation
between security vendors. The angle was good; security companies do need to work together more efficiently to build products that interoperate without leaving holes for hackers.
It's just, and I may be too cynical here, that whenever companies talk about interoperability you can see the thoughts in the back of their minds "How can I extract maximum benefit from my company from this?"
I blame Microsoft, who has made a career from subverting standards to suit its goals. Since Redmond was so successful at this other companies have taken the hint. I hope the security industry can build a useful consensus, but have my doubts.
Next off it was the turn of Enrique Salem to give his keynote. Now we wrote a story
on his address to Storage Networking World a few weeks ago. Today we got pretty much the same speech with a new middle section about security not storage. This was a foolish trick to try, considering the audience crossover between the two conferences. John Thompson he is not.
Microsoft's Scott Charney turned out a good performance
, both during Coviello's keynote and his own, but the audience had its doubts it seemed. For too long Microsoft has played the white knight while concealing black armour.
The cryptographer panel
was fun however. The crypto krew are always good to listen to because they really don't give a monkey's about formality; they call it how they see it. They know they are the best in the business and are genuinely happy to talk frankly about their trade. Schneier, as ever, was the voice of reason on the panel.
As a counterpoint immediately afterwards we had the director of the NSA giving his take on online security. He spent a few minutes rebutting critics of the NSA, then a short history of how it had saved humanity from fascism/communism before attempting to scare everyone silly about the threat landscape. Then he offered a solution
of working together to defeat a common enemy. Somehow I kept flashing back to the beginning of the Iraq debacle. Still, an entertaining speaker.
Once the keynotes were out of the way everyone broke for lunch. The Europeans headed outside en masse for a cigarette and coffee break while everyone else tried to find something to eat.
The afternoon was devoted to sessions and interviews. RSA this year was not as packed as it has been in previous years and the exhibition floor was manageable for a change. In many ways this was no bad thing, since for too long people have swarmed exhibitor's stands grabbing logo-branded pens, t-shirts and squeeze balls as fast as they were available. Not that they were in any great number - the recession has thankfully cut down on such useless fripperies.