"They may have heard of us before [we won], but I don't think it would have led to a meeting right afterward," Eisen says. "Here's big Oracle talking to a 40-employee company. It was an introductory meeting about what we can do to work together. And we're still in talks with them."
For Michelle Waugh, a product marketing director at Islandia, N.Y.-based CA — which bested PGP, Vontu and Guidance Software to grab the coveted Best Enterprise Security Solution award — the win substantiated the growing identity and access management marketplace.
"We were tremendously proud of getting that award," she says. "From our perspective, it is external validation and recognition of something we believe in and talk about regularly."
The benefits of an SC Award may vary from one winner to the next, but two things are certain: There is no honor that carries as much weight throughout the IT security landscape, and there is no bigger night than the SC Awards Gala, held during the yearly RSA Conference in San Francisco.
Who will earn bragging rights next year? Nominations are now open for the SC Magazine Awards 2008, where hundreds of companies are again expected to compete for some 30 Reader Trust, Excellence and Professional awards.
"It's an important annual event for the industry to recognize the achievements of vendors and CSOs," says Mike Weider, founder/CTO of Watchfire, which took home three awards this year, including the Best Security Company title. "RSA is the biggest security event of the year and, clearly, the SC Magazine Awards show is the biggest awards event of the year."
And believe it or not, winning isn't everything. The ceremony itself is a who's who of information security leaders.
The night brings together not just vendors, but also some of the industry's leading visionaries and practitioners, including former White House cybersecurity adviser Howard Schmidt, Oracle CSO Mary Ann Davidson, and eBay CISO Dave Cullinane — not to mention this year's CSO of the Year winner, Dennis Brixius of McGraw-Hill.
"It's interesting to be sitting side by side at the tables with your competitors and those companies with who you collaborate and have it be on such a human scale," Waugh of CA says. "It's a community you don't see very often. It's quite interesting."
Waugh says the awards show, which also bestows honors on some of the corporate world's best security professionals, is a way to highlight industry best practices. "I think it provides a bit of a service to elevate the security industry beyond a marketplace of vendors pitching their products," she says.
Meanwhile, next year, CA and Watchfire hope to be back defending their titles, Waugh and Weider say.
As for The 41st Parameter, well, they won't be rookies anymore — though Eisen says he will never forget receiving the email that he his company had won the award.
For him, the honor served as closure to a grueling months-long effort to launch his company, a task that included attracting customers and venture capitalists and winning over analysts.
"When you enter our company, you see the SC Award right there," he says. "We're very proud of it."