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As Ping Identity’s Community Evangelist, the past couple of years I’ve been charged with making sure Ping’s unique culture stays alive with our customers, our employees, and the "identerati." Some people call me the Ping concierge - I work to make sure people get what they need.

Let me tell you about the 2012 Cloud Identity Summit, the best one yet!  This third year for the Summit brought together a larger, more diverse identity community than ever before. And as usual, the latest thinking in identity was evident in the sessions, and the networking was as rich as any event on the calendar.

This year, the conference truly became an industry event. Several of Ping’s competitors (e.g. Symplified and Intel) were exhibiting and in attendance, as well of several of the API gateway community - Layer 7 and Vordel. Finally, major players in the identity ecosystem (e.g. Oracle, IBM, Sailpoint, Radiant Logic, Covisint and Identropy) were present.

But beyond the vendors, the 400+ attendees themselves were very diverse. We counted nearly 100 Ping customers to go along with standards makers such as NSTIC, Open ID Foundation, Kantara and the IETF; consultants such as KPMG, CSC, Gartner and Forrester; and of course the identerati who have devoted their lives to solving the problems of Internet-scale identity.

The technical side was all a buzz with whether Open ID Connect would replace SAML and Open ID; with how we could possibly scale identity to billions of APIs in the next decade; and how the impact of mobile devices was driving computing and identity. The session presenter's list read like a who’s who of the identity world, with each of them bringing their A-game to the thoughtful, energized audience.  The closing keynote of the conference featured two leading lights in identity, Kaliya “IdentityWoman” Hamlin and Bob Blakley. They highlighted identity and social justice - challenging the attendees to stand up and be counted.

The social networking side was just as strong as the technology. Breakfast, lunch and dinner afforded plenty of time for meeting new friends and old. Each evening featured a fun social event. As Ping’s Community Evangelist, I am keenly focused on people. I spent much of the conference meeting people I hadn't previously known and introducing folks who I did know to each other. I also managed to host several informal get-togethers by the fire pit for three nights in a row, far into the night. My signature hospitality is fine cigars. I am proud to say that I gave away more than 65 of them to both men and women alike. I suspect those after-parties might have moved the art of Internet-scale identity forward some. If nothing else, a lot of people are now better friends.

This year saw the first Ping national user group meeting with about 30 users attending. They held major discussions, including how to work with OAuth, how to manage large certificate collections, how to externalize to the cloud their vast internal identity infrastructure and culture, and how to do identity in highly-classified environments. In the post mortem, everyone was happy about the intensity of the topics and the chance to meet each other before the rest of the conference started.  However, they were unhappy about how short it was, and wished there had been more Ping technical content! Points noted!  We finished up talking about governance and opted for an informal structure. All and all, a terrific first meeting -  I think everybody left looking forward to next year.

Last, but not least, is the unique family side of the Cloud Identity Summit. Ping is a family-first company and it carries through in this event. Attendees are encouraged to bring their families and turn the event into a vacation. Kim Durand, wife of CEO Andre Durand, personally organizes the family program, building a rich experience for the whole family. Swimming, outdoor activities, clowns, and a final evening at a dude ranch are just some of the opportunities for attendees and their families to spend time together. We counted over 150 participating family members: kids, spouses - the only ones missing were the family dogs!

Next year, the Cloud Identity Summit moves to Napa, Calif., at the Meritage Resort. Ping has hired a Cloud Identity Summit director, Mike Morgan, to expand the event to an even larger audience. I can’t wait!

Drummond Reed, chairman of Connect.Me, and long-time identerati was finally able this year to attend a Summit. Sometime during the week he exclaimed to me, “Sid, this isn’t a conference; it’s an experience.”  I smiled and agreed wholeheartedly.

See you next year!

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