Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Yi Mao's Opening Speech at the Fifth ICMC

Dear Community,

It is the second time that I have had the honor and pleasure to open the International Cryptographic Module Conference. This year is very special since it is the fifth anniversary of the conference. 

I’d like to welcome you all with an image from the end of the 1st ICMC. Many of you may still remember that we used the flamingos to say “Thank you,” in many different languages, for your participation.

Now, the flamingos are saying “Welcome,” in even more languages, to all of our old and new friends coming to this conference. 

As we move forward I’d like to share some crucial dates, thoughts and pictures on how the current form of ICMC came into existence.

The idea for the conference first circulated in the ISO meetings in early 2010. However, atsec started to consider it at the end of 2012, specifically on November the 2nd, when we first established a repository for the conference with the current name: ICMC.

The name had to address two key aspects: International and Crypto Module, since the focus would be on crypto modules and attract an international audience.

During the first months of 2013 we contacted Bill Rutledge, the current organizer, and started the process. First we had to set a budget and make the funds available.

In April 2013 we set up the Web site, the logo, and started the process of finding the date and venue to host the event. We had to be careful to avoid clashing with the International Common Criteria Conference as the CC and the FIPS communities share the same set of users, vendors and labs.

The venue we picked for the 1st ICMC was a Holiday Inn. 

It was very frugal, nothing fancy and no entertainment organized after hours. We picked Gaithersburg, to maximize our chances of having as many people from NIST as possible. Google map shows that it’s 1.4 miles away from the NIST campus and it takes 5 minutes to get there. 

The 1st ICMC ran from the 24th to the 26th of September, 2013, to avoid collision with the ICCC, which was held on the 10th to the 12th of September.  

Once everything was settled for the conference we started to receive reservations. By mid-July, two months before the conference started, we had only four paying applicants registered for the conference! They were a representative of Finnish Communications, two from Coact, Inc, and one from Sicore Technologies. I would like to thank you as early believers in the conference.
The main goal of the conference was to bring the crypto module community together. We knew the risks involved, such as losing money or damaging our company’s reputation if the conference did not go well. We put in a seed, the result of failure or success could be random.

However, shortly after those first 4 reservations, the community came together strongly, and none of the risks we were afraid of materialized. On the contrary, the first ICMC was a success and made a profit. We had a total of 163 participants and 13 sponsors. One Participant Quote was: "This conference is Win Win Win!". 

You can see this quote in our post-conference blog post at:
A survey after the first ICMC encouraged everybody to continue with the conference:

Sixty-four percent of the people surveyed answered that they would definitively plan to attend the next conference and thirty-six said they would maybe attend again, but nobody said that they would not attend again.

After the first ICMC, atsec decided to leave the funds and the profit made with the organizer and the community to continue to prosper the conference.

We consider it one of the best investments our company has ever made, because today after 5 years this conference has more than 20 sponsors and close to 400 participants. 

I want to thank all of our sponsors and exhibitors for supporting the conference. I’d also like to thank the Program Committee for their hard work from planning the conference to putting together the agenda. This year we have some student volunteers. Thank you for your help! My special thanks go to Bill Rutledge and Nikki Principe for making the conference possible.
We have left the infant and toddler phase. Now the ICMC is growing healthier and stronger every year with more sponsors, users, labs and vendors from all market segments and all over the world. The spirit of the conference hasn’t changed: it is a platform where we improve the communication among all parties involved in designing, implementing, using, testing and validating crypto modules while the load of organizing the conference is shared.
Vendors and labs are all competing, but during the ICMC everybody comes together as during the Olympic Games to share with each other the fruit of a hard year of work. However, unlike the Olympics, at ICMC everybody is a winner!

What a great story of community. Thank you very much for believing in it.

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