CEIC a Smash
The annual Computer and Enterprise Investigations Conference (CEIC) wrapped up this afternoon after four unseasonably and delightfully cool days in Las Vegas. Sponsored by Guidance Software, CEIC has mutated from a largely guns-and-badges event focused on EnCase and forensic investigation to a principally corporate extravaganza with a growing emphasis on e-discovery. It was a splendid conference, with some of the strongest EDD offerings I've seen of late. I wasn't there as a speaker, so I could relax and enjoy the parts of the conference that weren't focused on e-discovery, catching up on the latest developments in incident response and computer forensics.
Imagine, a conference drawing top talent in BOTH computer forensics and e-discovery, with as much e-evidence talent and experience in the audience as at the podia. What a networking bonanza!
Many of the best known names in EDD were there, including the peripatetic Browning Marean, U.S. Magistrate Judge Andrew Peck, Senior Master Steven Whitaker (of the Queens's Bench Division, Royal Courts of Justice, UK), my favorite British EDD blogger (sans bow tie), Chris Dale, my favorite EDD blogger (cum bow tie), Josh Gilliland, George Socha, Tom Gelbmann, George Rudoy, Judge Don Shelton from Michigan, Patrick Oot, John Rosenthal, Dominic Jaar, Jim Daley, Mark Sidoti, Conor Crowley, Matt Miller, Glenn O'Brien, Mary Frantz, Suellen Galish, Keith Chval and many strong presenters from Guidance's own ranks (apologies to anyone I overlooked). I could almost hear Claude Rains as Captain Renault in Casablanca instructing his gendarmes to "Round up the usual suspects!" But what a fine line up of suspects it was.
The conference occupied the plush-and-peculiar Red Rock Resort in suburban Summerlin, NV on the far west side of Las Vegas, offering panoramic views of the mountains, valley and Strip. Browning Marean noted that the facility was in bankruptcy, but it seemed none the worse for its financial troubles. Guidance Software took excellent care of the attendees--no mean feat when you consider that 1,300 people showed up for a conference planned to support 800-900 people. But food and drink were plentiful, and there was someone in a Guidance polo shirt every ten feet or so to answer your questions and point you in the right direction. Good thing, too, for it was a confusing layout with confusingly-named tracks, despite all the laudable effort aimed at helping people find their way. Next year, how about just Tracks A, B, C and D in Rooms A, B, C and D?
The unexpected crowd meant that last-minute registrants had to be on a waiting list for each session--except the e-discovery track, which had ample space. I initially questioned why Guidance would accept so many registrations when it meant there wouldn't be enough room in most sessions; but, it all worked out cheerfully enough, and the attendees took away golden nuggets of wisdom (though some surely left the other sort of gold behind on the gaming floor).
The exhibit hall was a veritable toy store of forensic hardware and e-discovery software. Of course, Guidance Software and Tableau, its newly-acquired hardware partner, were much in evidence; but many others as well. I spotted Vound, Nuix, Clearwell, Wiebetech, F-Response, Black Bag, Access Data, Dell, Paraben, Mandiant and probably thirty more vendors. For this forensics guy, it was F.A.O. Schwarz, and I got to catch up with Peter Mercer (who gave a good talk on e-mail investigation), the Sheehy brothers from Sydney, Randy Barber, Drew Fahey, Rob Lee and Matt Shannon.
I'm already looking forward to CEIC 2011, in Orlando, famously the home of Ralph Losey World (and that other place with the castle and the mouse).