Blog post

The Security Field Day 2 Experience

July 21, 2019InfoSteph

2019 has been a whirlwind of exciting opportunity for me. From speaking at conferences to becoming Lead of WoSEC Houston to starting up my own business, it seems a bit like it’s my year. My latest opportunity comes in the form of an awesome program called Security Field Day, where security influencers and thought leaders are invited to listen in on vendor presentations and ask questions. I was nominated by two amazing people (Phoummala Schmitt ‏and Chris) to be a part of it. Instant intimidation.

However, I accepted. I have been calling this my “Shonda Rhimes Year of Yes” because I have pretty much said yes to everything, for better or worse. In any case, after some DM slidage a few emails and a few months, I arrived in San Jose for three days of vendor presentations, campus visits, laughs, and fun! I’m going to do a series of posts about vendor prezzies that really intrigued me and got my wheels turning, but I wanted to set the foundation by writing about my experience there first. Also, it will help jump start my memory because this event was a month ago. *insert open-mouthed smiley face emoji with cold sweat*

Day One

First day was a whirlwind. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t intimidate or nervous. I mean, some of these people have been in the industry almost as long as I’ve been alive. Some have accomplished amazing things already. Imposter Syndrome hit me like a ton of bricks. However, I have been putting my IS in check lately and stuffing those feelings down, because they don’t really serve me well.

We started off with a meeting where Tom explained how the event works. Vendors are going to come in with their presentation and they want us to interrupt to ask what we deem are the important questions. Sounds simple. Was it? No. It’s extremely hard to come up with questions on the spot about things that may not have occurred or mattered in the environments you’ve worked or labbed in. A lot of information was pretty new to me conceptually. West Coast seems to be all about the cloud, but every job in Houston that I have worked has barely flirted with the cloud. I’m not sure if we’re behind due to the ruling industry in Houston or if I just so happen to work with companies who are very late adopters, but that has been my experience.

We had four presentations by three vendors, which doesn’t seem like a lot but it was. Edgewise Networks, Banyan and Palo Alto all spent time with us and I think for that day, Palo Alto had the most impressive set of presentations. It’s slightly unfair, given that Palo Alto is a powerhouse and has the infrastructure built in to make great presentations, but it still remains a fact. I’ll explain what happened during these presentations in future posts. One presentation of note was by Janice Le on personal brand. She has a really dope story and it was amazing getting a chance to hear this presentation. I love these types of presentations and I feel that everyone should be as introspective as you need to be to answer the questions she’s posing. Here is the presentation.

Being on Palo Alto’s campus was surreal. I’ve had the pleasure of using their firewall in a previous gig and man, to see where the magic happens blessed a little techie’s soul. Me. I am the little techie.

A reception followed after we left Palo Alto’s campus, with some good eats and good conversation. Somehow, after all of that, people were still feeling social and stayed up to talk. I, an introvert in new situations with new people, was completely drained and bowed out. I had a lot to process and digest and I wanted to make sure I was well rested before the next day.

Day 2

The next day, we had two vendor presentations. Do not be fooled, though. VMware’s presentation, which happpened on their campus, took four hours, plus they fed us lunch. ExtraHop was a couple hours after, with a couple of hours of presenting as well. As you know, what was discussed may come out in future posts, but for now, at the bottom of this blog post, you can view the presentations yourself if you are so inclined.

We rounded out the day with dinner at a brewery and an Escape Room challenge at OmeEscape. I will say one thing. You do not know a person until you have done an escape room with them. That is where I will leave that, heh.

More socializing ensued and I happened to participate this time. Had a great conversation with some great people and so ends the second day.

Day 3

The last day was a pretty sad one. At this point, we’ve spent days communicating with each other via Twitter and Slack, joking in the limo, walking around VMware’s campus and making nerd jokes. It was a little like camp, but more mentally exhausting and no bad ass tan. This was the lightest day of them all. Guardicore presented followed by Illumio (which was the most interesting presentation of the whole week. These people have to be in theater.). We went to Apple Park, which, if you don’t know, is the headquarters for Apple. We went to the Apple Store, saw this super cool AR display of what the Apple campus looks like. It was pretty dope.

That evening, we said goodbye to some, talked some, went to hear Ben Gage’s set and closed out the week.

In the schedule, it literally said “Weekend…Departures, Tears” and at first, I was like, “Pft. Tears???” But by the end, I could see why. It was really a dope experience with awesome people and though it was exhausting, it was a lot of fun and a lot of knowledge sharing. I will look on this experience with fondness for the rest of my life. It was also a marker of my growth since this same time last year, when I was just labbing and hoping for an opportunity in Security. Fast forward and I’m considered a thought leader, which feels bizarre and big and crazy. But an honor, nonetheless.

Anyway, if you’re curious about Security Field Day or Tech Field Day, here is their website. If you want to see the presentations for yourself, they have created a playlist for it here.

Stay tuned for the nitty gritty on the presentations that moved me in the coming weeks.

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