Three Big Takeaways From RSA Conference 2019

Dennis Brouwer
Business Development Manager


If you’ve never heard of (or attended) the RSA cybersecurity conference, you should know that it’s a huge conference (think 45,000 attendees) that covers pretty much every imaginable perspective on cyber.

At one end, you’ve got dozens (if not hundreds) of start-ups looking to claw out a market niche necessary to attract venture funding and enterprise customers. The goal of many of these businesses is acquisition by someone higher on the food chain.

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At the other end you’ve got scores of industry sessions on every conceivable topic. It’s overwhelming, but that’s kind of the point. It has a well-earned reputation as the largest security-focused conference in the world and it’s clear that it intends to stay that way.

So, just in case you didn’t go, I’d like to pass along the three big takeaways from this year’s conference. I attended for three days, and these issues surfaced repeatedly, in ways both large and small.

1. The Ecosystem Is Alive and Well

There are a few “whales” at the top of the market – Symantec, McAfee, Cisco, Loudoun-based Neustar and others – who are known for their product and service platforms. They are sales and marketing engines that have acquired hundreds of smaller companies over the years.

There is a thriving mid-market, with firms like Loudoun’s own Telos or Cofense, building out sustainable franchises based on clear value propositions. And then there are lots and lots of smaller companies, each trying to differentiate themselves, grow and attract more business.

2. Everyone Wants Consolidation

The cyber market presents opportunities for entrepreneurs, but the huge number of very small players, each in a tightly defined niche, makes it tough for an enterprise or government buyer to pick a vendor.

Patrick Gelsinger, CEO of VMWare, captured the buyer’s perspective with a story that said most enterprises have two suppliers for key technologies, while it’s not uncommon for enterprise buyers to do business with two dozen companies in cybersecurity.

That’s not because they want to; it’s because the evolving technical challenges and the market responses have ended up so narrowly defined. Enterprise buyers are forced to cobble together their own basket of capabilities – or wait for the platform companies to acquire and integrate the smaller supplier and their value proposition.

So, the bottom line is that EVERYONE wants consolidation – the customers, the big providers, the small upstarts, and most of all, the venture capital and private equity players. But that takes time, and of course, more companies are being formed with each passing day, ensuring that the problem is here to stay.

3. This Workforce Crunch Isn’t Going Away

As much as any market in the U.S. today, cybersecurity has a problem with workforce. The staffing needs are evident across the board, with demand for sales, product, and business professionals to join new or growing firms.

The need for certified operations professionals and software developers is particularly acute.

The demand for developers is accelerated by the fact that, because of concerns about espionage, cybersecurity software can’t be easily “offshored” and then marketed to the U.S. intelligence or military community.

This effectively limits software development to U.S. citizens with clearances, or a very short of list of close allies, such as Canada, Australia, the U.K. and New Zealand.

The result? In addition to strong demand for business and operational professionals, cyber firms are feeling the crunch when it comes to software developers.

If you’re even a moderately experienced, security-savvy developer, you are in a seller’s market where flexibility and strong demand on the part of the employer is to be expected.

So, the bottom line on RSA is that it’s big, it’s daunting, and it’s a hotbed of innovation, because the problems keep growing, changing and metastasizing. This market is here to stay.

To learn more about why Loudoun County is the perfect place to grow a cyber company, email Dennis Brouwer or call 1-800-LOUDOUN.


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