Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Craig Mundie, chief research and strategy officer, will have plenty to discuss when they take the stage Tuesday morning, from the security improvements in Vista to ongoing work in Longhorn to strengthen the security of the operating system and make the environment more secure.
John Parkinson, a longtime industry strategist who has done work for Microsoft, expects Gates and Mundie to also focus on the general security challenges the industry faces. "The message will be that security is not just Microsoft's problem, but an industry problem. That's the general schematic that has been floating around at Redmond," he said.
At RSA, Microsoft will also give an update on Forefront, its line of business security products, which was bolstered last week with the rollout of its Intelligent Application Gateway 2007 appliance.
Parkinson believes that with Vista and Forefront, Microsoft has shown a renewed commitment to security that customers will take seriously. The fact that Vista installs with security measures enabled by default is evidence of this and will go a long way toward protecting the average user, Parkinson said. "They have to make it easier for people who don't understand the problem to be protected," he said.
When Symantec Chairman and CEO John Thompson addresses conference attendees, he's likely to expound on issues such as the vendor's data center business and the strategy behind the pending acquisition of network client management vendor Altiris. Enterprise messaging management and compliance are also key Symantec themes that will warrant further examination at the event, according to solution providers.
Brian Moody, vice president of sales and business development for San Jose, Calif.-based Computer Media Technologies, says Symantec's moves into enterprise messaging management have helped his company rack up "seven figures" in revenue over the past year, mainly from sales of Enterprise Vault.
As incidents of sensitive data theft skyrocket, Moody and other channel partners are hoping the Cupertino, Calif.-based vendor will offer a roadmap for integrating encryption into its products, particularly for email and files. Symantec in December added an encryption option to its NetBackup enterprise data protection software.
Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, who will speak at RSA for the first time, will focus on his company's push to raise its profile in the security space through identity management. At the event, Redwood Shores, Calif.-based vendor will take the wraps off its Management Pack for Identity Management, which provides a single management console for Oracle software.
"The significance of Oracle's participation at RSA is going to be around identity management, because that's their big play right now. It's pretty robust, and has full provisioning, which is important for security and compliance," said Dave Shackleford, director of security solutions and assessment services at Vigilar, an Atlanta-based solution provider.
Websense CEO Gene Hodges will also be on hand to discuss his firm's progress in moving beyond its content filtering roots and into the spotlight as a true security vendor. The San Diego-based vendor in December bought data leak prevention startup PortAuthority, a move hailed by channel partners as a step in the right direction.
Websense has made great strides in improving their channel program since bringing on Dave Roberts last May, according to solution providers.
The vendor's introduction of add-on modules for its products and its January unveiling of a new pricing model, which whittled down a list of 20 SKUs down to just 5, have been the keys to the turnaround, Koran added.
"I was worried about Websense for a while, but they have really turned it around," said Robert Koran, vice president at Mark Enterprises, an El Segundo, Calif.-based solution provider.