Making Comdex Relevant Again

What are the core issues for IT these days? Nothing is useful in computing anymore unless it deals with security as a primary issue, and Comdex Las Vegas 2003 looks to give security primary coverage.

I remember my first Comdex even though more than a dozen years have passed. At that time, it was a must-attend event for the IT pro.

Comdex was like going to the Super Bowl—the extravagance was completely over the top. Still, even then I could see that getting everyone together in one place could become somewhat anachronistic in an era of networked computing. But the fact is that everyone was there in the desert, and the important buyers and sellers really did do business. And actual news was made.

With this years show expecting perhaps a quarter of my first time, clearly the Comdex of today is not the must-go show it used to be. What could make it so again?

For Comdex to become essential again, the show must deal with essential issues. In 1991 security was an issue, but not a very big one. There were viruses, but they werent really all that big a deal without easy, Internet-based distribution.

Nowadays, I pay much more attention to Vegas when the annual BlackHat Briefing and Conference show is there. Perhaps the outcome of the BlackHat show and other large security events such as the RSA conferences, is more relevant to the world of computing than has gone on at general-interest IT shows like Comdex.

/zimages/2/28571.gifAre there two sides to the annual BlackHat Briefing and Conference sessions? Uncovering the details of vulnerabilities can be useful to the virus fighter and the virus writer. Take a look here.

Perhaps this is why security is one of the major themes at this years Comdex. The topics being covered in the Comdex Security Conference are important, big-picture themes, such as intrusion detection, dealing with spam, and biometrics. That many of the vendors of these technologies will be present at the show is fortuitous for attendees. In addition, there will be a panel presentation on "The Intersection Of Hardware And Software Security" sponsored by IEEE Security & Privacy magazine.

Now, for a show to provide a big room for a bunch of vendors can no longer justify an IT managers travel budget. Comdex must move towards answering the big IT questions if they want to be a huge draw again. Will attendees may find it easier to get a cab this week than it was back in 1991, I think they will see some of the glory of the "good old days"—and critical information.

Security Center Editor Larry Seltzer has worked in and written about the computer industry since 1983.

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