Welcome to Demo Fall 2008, where 72 young companies are vying for the attention of deal-hungry venture capitalists from North America, Europe, and Asia. With only six minutes to strut their stuff on stage, it's no surprise that the flashy, consumer-focused companies garner most of the attention.
But look closer. There's a strong contingent of startups displaying technologies that belong on the radar screen of the savvy IT manager, including a bevy of contenders sporting products and services to help IT plug data leaks, stamp out malicious applications, and protect mobile devices from theft.
[ Demo Fall 2008 focused much attention on Web collaboration, but there are signs that the Web 2.0 trend has peaked, as Galen Gruman reports. And check out the special report on Demo Fall 2008 and TechCrunch 50. ]
The following caught our attention, based on first impressions.
A nuanced approach to whitelisting
CoreTrace, a company founded by veterans of U.S. Air Force security services, claims to turn anti-malware protection on its head. "When there were only a limited number of threats, it made sense to blacklist them," says Wes Miller, senior technical product manager for the Austin-based firm. "But now, there are too many, evolving too fast for that approach to work."
Instead, CoreTrace offers its new Bouncer software, which automatically creates a whitelist of Windows desktop applications that are deemed to be legitimate and blocks applications that aren't on the list. IT can modify and manage that whitelist.
Whitelisting is not a new idea, of course. CoreTrace claims that its technology is differentiated by what it calls "trusted change," in essence a rules-based approach that adds a good deal of flexibility to its shield. Administrators can decide that software from a "trusted" source -- Adobe, for example -- can be installed, or they can decide how much discretion to give employees who need to add applications or services to their client.
Tracking IT's every move
Speaking of trust, Unity Solutions is beta testing a product for companies that don't, well, trust their IT staffs. Its Lanxoma software grabs and stores a screen shot of every action taken by IT staffers as they work on sensitive systems. One drawback: Lanxoma runs on Windows-based systems only.
Keeping control over documents you distribute
Fortressware offers a product that lets companies maintain control over sensitive documents even when the files are shared with outsiders. Companies can use the software to block printing, copying, and forwarding of the files. Data protection travels with the bits in a "capsule" that contains the rules decided on by the originators of the document, in much the same way that movies and music contain digital rights restrictions. Launched earlier this week, the beta product will support Windows users; support for Macintosh, Linux, and mobile users may or may not be available. You can register to download it from Fortressware's Web site.