A Long Time Ago (One Week), in a Galaxy Far, Far Away (San Francisco)…

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Last week was a great and productive time at the RSA Conference in San Francisco. It was good seeing many of our customers and meeting a lot of potential new customers that were interested in learning more about our differentiators and what we can do for them.

Sometimes after we attend conferences like RSA, while we learn a lot at the event and have a great time, we leave to go back to the reality of our day-to-day responsibilities of our jobs and it can be easy to lose sight of some of the key takeaways of a busy week. Yes, the conference is over, but that doesn’t mean we have to stop talking about some of the things we began discussing at it.

In the spirit of continuing the conversation, I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few of the highlights from the show, at least for me personally.

  • First and foremost, I love the opportunity to talk with our customers and learn more about what they’re doing. What are they seeing in their network environments? How are they using our products? What was it that drew them to Palo Alto Networks? Our mission is to help our customers and we can’t do that unless we’re also listening to them and really getting to know them and the challenges they face.
  • This year, a dozen of our customers offered to share their stories with folks who came by our booth. Our booth was staffed by a rotation of customers from different industries who provided their perspective and experiences deploying our products. It was really cool to see them interacting with our booth visitors and a sign of the strong loyalty we have established with our customer base. A number of our customers attending the show also received the opportunity to share their feedback and opinions with some of our execs onsite. Customers were at the center of our RSA Conference experience.
  • Aside from the opportunity to meet more of our customers, I think one of the highlights for me was seeing our founder, Nir Zuk, presenting at our booth each and every day. There’s a real passion that comes through when he talks and you can see how much he genuinely loves and believes in what he’s doing. If you ever get the chance to hear him speak, I highly encourage that you do so. Last week we offered a peek at what Nir was talking about at his booth presentations. The summary doesn’t do his full presentation justice, but I hope it gives you a good taste of what he was discussing.
  • We’ve been working with our friends at Splunk for some time and at RSA we extended our partnership even further with the introduction of the newest Splunk App for Palo Alto Networks. It’s exciting to partner with a company like Splunk and we had a number of people ask us about this new app during the week.
  • Wade Williamson led a Peer to Peer session that included his fellow malware researchers and led to some really interesting conversations. While we can’t share much of what’s said during P2P sessions because of conference policy, Wade did give a few thoughts and takeaways on what he found really valuable during that conversation.

If you weren’t at RSA to see our booth you might be wondering what the deal is with the Star Wars-esque title of this post. While the ultimate purpose of conferences like RSA is to focus on “work” topics, learning and sharing information, they also provide the chance to have some fun with customers and partners we don’t get to see frequently. To provide a fun and creative atmosphere to partake in all this learning, we used a Star Wars theme at RSA this year. We had characters at our booth, ranging from Darth Vader to Princess Leia to Chewbacca, gave away lightsabers to those who visited us and had stormtroopers walking through San Francisco escorting people to our Rebellion After Party at Mos Eisley Cantina on Wednesday evening. Nearly all the Star Wars characters attended that party as well to mingle with guests and take photos with them.

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We also did something cool online, combining the world of Star Wars with the world of network security. We started conversations on Twitter about security fails from the Star Wars films and what the world would be like if Yoda ran security for an organization. These types of activities are fun for me because they offer another way to engage with our Palo Alto Networks community, and in a different way than we typically do. We enjoyed a lot of the responses we received and I listed a few of our favorites below:

‪@PaloAltoNtwks‬‬‬‬ Luke and Han shouldn’t have gotten far with their storm trooper suits. Where’s the 2-factor auth?
@JaredValentine

‪@PaloAltoNtwks‬‬‬‬ Being able to fly into the death star using a stolen emperial vehicle and using old security codes ‪#starwarssecurityfail‬‬‬‬
@rovinguser

‪@PaloAltoNtwks‬‬‬‬ Having a gaping hole in the death star where you can drop a bomb. Also, one central mainframe? Come on, ‪#starwarssecurityfail‬‬‬‬
@BrendanTech

"Enable safely you do not? In grave danger, you will be." ‪#IfYodaRanSecurity‬‬‬‬
@gbonvanie

any is a dangerous word, care you should take in using it ‪#IfYodaRanSecurity‬‬‬‬
@rovinguser

We’re already looking forward to next year’s RSA conference, but in the meantime, may the force be with you!