Thursday, December 21, 2006

You pooh-pooh? I pooh-pooh your pooh-pooh!

This blog entry is a response to Dave Kearns comments about the Gartner identity management show.

I recently attended Gartner’s first Identity Management show which was held in Las Vegas from Nov 29-Dec 1. I’m certainly no stranger to identity management and related shows like Burton Group’s excellent Catalyst conference, Digital ID World, RSA, etc. They each offer different perspectives and, I believe, cater to different audiences.

Quest Software was a sponsor of the Gartner show. In addition, we exhibited and had a hospitality suite. I also had the opportunity to speak. Now, I will be the first to admit that I only flew in for that day and left not long after my speaking session but I have two perspectives on the show that I wish to share in addition to the fact that it was very well attended for a first time event.

1. I spoke to and surveyed the staff who attended (sales, marketing and technical) and the Quest customers that we know who attended. The feedback was resoundingly positive. Customer feedback was very positive that the show was beneficial and meaningful to them. The Quest staff was totally over the top with the “quality” of the customers who came by to ask questions or see demos. I was specifically told that the customers were all decision makers (i.e., weren’t network administrators or junior staff). This is important to me because I need to justify to both myself and my management that our investment was appropriate. Finally, I use this type of feedback to stack rank my expenditure on this show versus my expenditure on shows like Catalyst, Digital ID World, etc.

2. My session was titled “Tenets of Identity Management” and was a non-Quest pitch that related my learning’s around identity management over the past 10+ years. It was well attended despite the fact that Microsoft was pitching their IDM strategy next door. Since my session was not a technical session I did not expect it to be well attended but I was surprised to see about 75 people in the room. Feedback from those that attended was very positive. In fact, as I got into my cab to take me to the airport my phone rang. A Quest sales person had just received a call from someone in my session who wanted to talk to us regarding our products and how they could help. Our staff on the show floor stated that numerous people who attended my session came by looking for me or commenting on how much they enjoyed it.

My conclusions from these observations are the following:

o For a first time show, attendance was ~850 people which is similar to what I’ve seen at Burton Group’s Catalyst show for their IDS track (identity management). This is impressive and means, in my mind, that they clearly have the power to draw attendees.

o The quality of the attendees (decision makers, senior IT staff) means that my marketing dollar is being spent wisely.

o The fact that Gartner drew this many attendees and corporate sponsors (Microsoft, Oracle, Novell, Quest, Sun, etc.) is good for all of us. More people will be educated about IDM and that, in turn, raises the water level in the pool for everyone.

o Based on the feedback from my session there was clearly a cross-section of the audience that was new to identity management. The Gartner show is the perfect show for those new to IDM to get their grounding and get some real feedback from Gartner analysts, other attendees and the exhibitors.

Let me state the great respect I have for Dave Kearns and Phil Becker (Digital ID World founder). I know both of them and have worked very closely with Dave since my Microsoft days. Dave also quotes blog comments by Nishant Kaushik, Oracle’s architect for identity management products. My commentary on Dave’s article, based on my experience above would be:

o Dave didn’t attend the Gartner show in Las Vegas so I’d invite him to attend the next Gartner identity management conference in London or Los Angeles and judge for himself.

o I agree that the technical identity management staff can get a lot from a combination of Burton’s Catalyst conference and Phil’s DIDW conference. However, thanks to compliance and other market influences, IDM is getting more airplay and more head time with other executives and senior staff in organizations (HR directors were at Gartner’s show!!). These people would be in very deep water if their first show they attended was Catalyst or DIDW.

o DIDW is a great conference but it just isn’t attended enough. That means that either the agenda or speakers don’t appeal or that DIDW isn’t effectively marketing their show. We don’t spend marketing dollars (i.e., exhibit) at DIDW for this simple reason. I will commit to attending the next DIDW conference though and re-visiting my previous conclusions.

o Nishant disagreed with some of the conclusions and statements made by Gartner’s Roberta Witty regarding user provisioning (UP). Nishant has every right to disagree with Roberta. I guess we’ll have to review Roberta’s prediction in 2010 – watch for the blog entry!

Nishant followed up his first blog post with another that directly states “the Gartner summit was a good primer on IAM”. That’s exactly my point! More specifically, the Gartner show is filling a big gap that existed: An industry recognized group (Gartner) providing education, information, sessions and user case studies on identity and access management. A show that is not super technical, a show that is not too bleeding edge and, most importantly has broad appeal and is well attended.

My hat is off to Gartner. The more people that attend Gartner’s show the better it is for me, Dave, Phil and Nishant. Let’s not forget that we are all educators in this space and there’s a place for teachers at all levels.

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Dave Kearns said...

Good summary, Jackson. It was a useful conference in that it attracted first-time CxOs to an Identity event. "Identity 101" sums it up.

That's why I think Witty's comments were inappropriate. While they would be interestingly daring when made to a group well versed in Identity issues, it was far too controversial to be presented as gospel to neophytes.

But London sounds good....


Unknown said...

Glad you're reading Dave and London does sound good!