CEC 2007

Well, what with the various pressures of "the day job", it's taken me an age (nigh on a month, ouch!) to get round to posting my thoughts on this year's Customer Engineering Conference (aka "CEC"), which was set in the madness of Las Vegas (more about which, later).

I flew in on the Saturday, as I needed to attend mandatory speaker training on the Sunday (which I went into with an open mind, even though I've spoken at numerous CECs and STSes before them; I came out with a couple of useful new techniques, so it was worthwhile), had a lazy Sunday de-jetlagging, wandering around, catching up with old friends and being trained, and then hit the conference with my legs running, on the Monday.

Other than the general sessions, I didn't see anything more than a little bit of the CEC Pavilion on the Monday; the reason being, that I was presenting two sessions myself on Solaris 10 Trusted Extensions ("TX"), written and delivered jointly with Steve Gaul (a very capable and affable "opposite-number" in Sun Federal). We did a 1-hour "regular" breakout (attendance about 20 folk, about half of whom were TX users; some good questions in the Q&A piece at the end, which showed that folk were being attentive) and a 3-hour "deep dive" workshop, courtesy of Brad Blumenthal's SE deep-dive programme (6 attendees, lots of questions, some relating to real-world deployments; two of the attendees, who I bumped into on the bus back to the airport, said the latter session was "the best session they'd attended at this year's CEC").

It's always nice to be appreciated :-).

Regarding the breakout sessions I attended, on the Tuesday:

  • Achim Reckeweg spoke a lot of sense around IDM projects; he's clearly "been there, done that and got the scars as well as the T-shirt, in terms of some of the issues that a customer's business processes can raise when trying to automate them".
  • Giuseppe Russo and Domenico Minchella are really on to something with their new business partner's token card; great to see that the duress situation is finally likely to be addressed. This was probably my favourite breakout, as an attendee.
  • Efi Batchev was handicapped by issues with the system showing his slides, but the content was good. Kernel forensics is a fascinating topic, especially how Efi covers it.
  • I need to get my hands on Peter Charpentier's imminently-released patch management book.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to get to Gilles Gravier's session on the Monday, as it clashed with the TX deep-dive; this is a real shame, as I gather it was hugely entertaining, in terms of showing how far Solaris' compatibility capabilities can be stretched in new and unexpected directions (Skype in a Linux BrandZ Zone, for example :-) ).

I'm not going to blog my thoughts on the General sessions; other folk have already covered the content, and some of my opinions may be just a bit too controversial for public airing ;-).

In the Pavilion, I found the HBA vendor (got the guy's business card somewhere, company name begins with a V...) and had a chat; they have just launched an HBA with built-in encryption, which is deeply cool if they've done it right...

Chatting with an informative guy on the VMWare stand, the next cut of VMWare ESX is expected to drop the embedded Linux, and be an entirely VMWare code production.

Oh, and the Tuesday night Party sucked; I left with my pal Joel after about 45 minutes, as it was clear that there was no way we were going to get food and the place wasn't so much "packed" as "London Underground at rush hour". A place twice the size, with twice the staff and twice the food was clearly required.

On the Wednesday, Steve Nelson and I had a little bit of a brainstorming session in one of the breaks; we came up with a useful "application testing extension" initiative which we hope will get appropriate buy-in, and run. Unfortunately I'd arranged my flights before I found out about the Security Ambassador poster session after the main conference wrapped-up; it takes a lot to drag me away from a gathering of many of my pals, but missing my 'plane home, is one of the things which will succeed...

It's a point worth making, that much of the best value I get from CECs is to be had over dinners, drinks - even breakfasts - with security-focussed colleagues from around the world, as well as from attending the sessions. This is why I keep submitting papers every year, as the best way to guarantee "being there" is by presenting :-).

I've nearly finished the next posting, giving my thoughts on Vegas itself. Watch this space!

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