SINGAPORE--Security vendor RSA will hold its Asia-Pacific Conference here for the first time, and said the city-state gave it the most support had ever received from a government. To be held in the island-state on June 5 and June 6 this year, it also marks the first time the RSA will be holding a conference in Asia outside Beijing, China. As part of the "outstanding" support RSA received, Singapore's Safety and Security Industry Program Office (SSIPO) reached out to Singapore ministers to speak at the event, worked with the Singapore Tourism Board (STB) to for publicity and sourced for sponsorships, said Art Coviello, executive chairman of RSA, speaking to ZDNet Asia at an interview here Monday. SSIPO is a partnership between Singapore's Economic Development Board (EDB) and Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) unveiled in May last year, to support private companies in undertaking R&D in Singapore and build new solutions to detect threats and protect data.
Talks had begun in August last year and both made the decision to bring the conference to Singapore in November, said Vincent Goh, vice president of RSA Asia-Pacific, who was also present at the interview.
As this is the first time the conference is held in Singapore, the security vendor wanted to keep it "conservative" in terms of size and scale compared to the other two conferences in the U.S. and Europe, Coviello explained. The conference will be a third the size of its counterparts in both continents having between 50 to 75 tracks and 100 participating vendors, he added.
Better government support makes conference stand out
One thing which made the conference different from its counterparts is the "strong government encouragement" it has received, Coviello pointed out. According to him, SSIPO had been a "driving force" in getting the conference started, as it was "pretty aggressive" in reaching out to RSA.
SSIPO's initiative indicates its capability, expertise and passion in driving security awareness and understanding both within the country and region, he noted. According to Coviello, the conference in San Francisco had taken more than ten years to garner 10,000 participants, while the one in Europe has still not reached 10,000 after more than 10 years. With the strong support from Singapore's government, Coviello is confident the conference will get to that level of crowd within three to four years.
"[Many] expect governments to be bureaucratic and slow-moving but this is not a government that slows things down," he said. "We had to keep up with them as much as they keep up with us."
Governance spectrum, security innovation to be highlights
Some tracks and presentations to be discussed during the conference surround "popular" security topics of mobile security, security infrastructure, cloud security and data application security, Coviello noted.
However, two pressing security issues both RSA executives hope to be addressed at the conference, include the diversity of governance within the region, as well as the fostering of security startups for innovation.
For example, the finance industry in Singapore is "well governed" by Singapore's Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), but the same cannot be said for other verticals and other countries, he observed, adding he expects the differing governance and compliance to be among the "top tracks" of the Asia-Pacific conference.
Coviello also hopes the program will attract security startups from the region.
He explained the security industry was very "inquisitive", and there were many national and industrial idiosyncrasies which can be addressed by these security startups. Many big companies also end up acquiring security startups and many startups have the potentia to grow into a large security company.
The "innovative sandbox," a program within the conference where startup security companies get to demonstrate their capabilities will not be in this year's regional conference. However, it is something Coviello hopes to see in the future in this region.