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Cloud computing security summit draws growing crowd

Cloud Security Alliance event expands to accommodate growing interest.

While the format may be similar to last year’s event, this year’s Cloud Security Alliance Summit (CSA) will be much more crowded -- another indication of the growing importance of the topic of cloud computing security.

Last year, the CSA filled its meeting room to capacity with 300 attendees for its half-day event at RSA Conference 2010, and turned away another 300. This year at CSA 2011, organizers expect 1,200 attendees at its summit on Feb. 14.

“It’s definitely bigger,” said Jim Reavis, co-founder and executive director of CSA as well as president of Reavis Consulting Group in Ferndale, Wash.. “We’re dealing with the challenges in managing that.”

We’re making really good progress in terms of moving beyond basic awareness to growing an educated workforce that really understands the issues.

Jim Reavis

Cloud Security Alliance

The half-day CSA Summit 2011 kicks off with a keynote from Marc Benioff, CEO of, and includes sessions on cloud security technology, GRC (governance, risk and compliance) in the cloud, and a presentation by security expert Chris Hoff, director of cloud and virtualization solutions at Cisco Systems Inc. Vivek Kundra, federal CIO at the White House, is also scheduled to present a keynote.

Benioff will offer a “very forceful advocacy of the state of the cloud and that it’s a trustworthy platform,” while other sessions feature security experts who will weigh in, “looking at the glass being half full,” Reavis said.

“It’s not necessarily all about security, but will be certainly the state of cloud from a trust perspective,” Reavis said of the summit.  “It’s a good way for people to step back and evaluate what kind of progress we’ve made and where do we think cloud computing is in its journey to replace other forms of IT.”

The nonprofit CSA officially launched at the RSA Conference 2009 to promote best practices and education for cloud computing security. The group, which counts more than 13,000 members, is a coalition of security pros, industry experts and vendors.  Its work includes security guidance on the critical areas of focus for cloud computing, the CSA Governance, Risk Management and Compliance Stack, and introduced the first user certification program for cloud computing security.

“We’re making really good progress in terms of moving beyond basic awareness to growing an educated workforce that really understands the issues,” Reavis said.

Cloud adoption is happening at a rapid clip, making it a challenge to keep up, he said. “We’re hearing about a lot more successful pilots and seeing a lot of roadmaps that are pointing toward cloud adoption in the next 12 months.”

At the summit, CSA plans to release initial findings on several research projects, including cloud incident response and cloud-based security services.

“As opposed to how we secure cloud computing, this is about how we use cloud computing to secure everything, including cloud and other forms of IT,” Reavis said of the CSA’s security services research. “This will be a very preliminary stage of articulating how the information security industry is going to be reinvented by cloud computing.”

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