The annual RSA Conference this week is expected to show evidence of a maturing security industry with an increasing role for big-name companies.

The event has long moved far beyond its origins as a get-together for cryptogeeks. It has developed into an annual gathering for corporate IT pros and a showcase for hundreds of companies, small and large, that hawk security products and services to businesses. This year is the 16th anniversary of the event. Again change is in the air.

"We're going to see a flight to quality, consolidation and quite a bit of merger and acquisition activity (in 2007)," said Andrew Jaquith, Yankee Group. "That's what's different about this year's RSA Conference; there is the slight whiff of blood in the air. You can sort of hear the screeching noises of the vultures overhead."