Fast & Secure on the French Riviera
A busy schedule since has distracted me from sharing this summary but 2 weeks since the event, it’s impact is still strong. I didn’t get to make last year’s Abu Dhabi event, but it wasn’t just the feedback on Fast & Secure 2014 that twisted my arm to go and spend a few days on the French Riviera with Fortinet. I was really looking forward to sharing experiences, tips and tricks with my contemporaries and came away with more than I had initially expected.
Nice to see you
Fellow delegates were warmly welcomed at Nice International Airport, and on the shuttle to the hotel I immediately got talking with other Managed Security specialists, representing independent organisations as well as the large and well-known international Telcos and ISPs. It was pleasing to know that the calibre of partners attending was high and was pleased to instantly engage in worthwhile discussions, justifying time spent away from the office.
Yes. Oui. Cannes
I expected a lot of selling noises from the Fortinet team and they didn’t disappoint. From senior executives in their morning keynotes to techies doing breakout sessions, there was still a very clear message of how the Fortinet solutions could and should be used. As was the case at the GPC earlier this year, Darren Turnbull (VP Strategic Solutions) sets a high marker in conveying cutting edge technology in business terms, with a wonderful laisez-faire approach to his presentations and a crisp dry humour that I hope isn’t lost on fellow delegates for whom English isn’t a first language.
However what was breath of fresh-air, is that partners who were invited to talk didn’t simply follow the expected lines of propaganda. Christof Jungo from Swisscom for example shared an insightful 30 minutes explaining their challenges on finding the right partner, being disappointed by the majority in Silicon Valley, and eventually opting for Fortinet because they were ready and willing to go the extra mile in developing technology that’s missing in this space. Also engaging were the technical discussions by Orange, Yahoo Japan and Filippo Cassini (head of the Fortinet Tiger Team). Some of this was not core business for Infosec Partners (we’re not intending to be a global ISP anytime soon) but it did serve to enhance my understanding of the cloud security challenges for our enterprise clients – especially as some are still trying to work out the kinks to their hybrid approach.
Breakout sessions were also good – whether technical track or business oriented, the speakers always answered questions, but it was ultimately the conversations away from the itinerary that provided the extra ‘je ne sais quoi’.
The Full Monte Carlo
On the final night we were taken to Monaco for dinner at the Hotel de Paris, and a bit of a flutter at the Casino de Monte-Carlo. Whilst the journey there was anything but fast (due to a combination of rush-hour traffic and a Champions League football match between Monaco and Juventus) it was with great company.
On arrival, a small contingent headed for Le Bar Américain where we enjoyed some local beverages and live music (a piano and trombone duo, of which the latter musician sported a suit and leather trainers with wings?) amidst a wonderful backdrop. Occasionally having looked out of the window, and even given the fact that we were in France where l’escargot are de rigour on many set menus (likely making them a tad faster than say British snails?) it amazed me that people get luxury performance cars like Ferraris and Lamborghinis only to drive them at less than a snail’s pace around Formula 1’s Casino bend, as if the glamour of the area needed accentuating.
Merci et à bientôt
Exchanging notes on the way back to the airport, did all delegates I spoke with get all they wanted or expected out of the event? Honestly, not 100%. For example, whilst I was happy to hear the sales & marketing wrapped messaging especially when discussing the larger Telco/ISP challenges, others expressed that they would have liked the chance to brainstorm a bit more. Even with the event packed format of the conference, I found that there was still ample time to connect with similarly minded people and expand on this afterwards – something I will be doing more over the next few weeks with those from Europe, the Middle East and Japan.
Ultimately it was a good trip, and I got more than enough to help sharpen my thinking for growing our hybrid and cloud managed security. Hopefully we can build something worthwhile to talk about at next year’s Fast & Secure, but the hard work really was dragging myself away from the sun-kissed beauty of the Côte d’Azur.
Fran Ordillano, Commercial Director & Consulting Partner at Infosec Partners