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Cisco Live: All about Networking

by Devavrat Oka, on May 29, 2014 11:33:20 AM

Last week I was given the opportunity to attend the 25th annual Cisco Live conference, which was held in San Francisco. Cisco Live offers a glimpse into the latest products and technologies offered by Cisco Systems. It provides a plethora of information in new and existing network technologies. But the best part of Cisco Live is the people – Cisco’s customers, partners and employees.

cisco live 2014

This was my first Cisco Live, so I went in with a lot of enthusiasm and curiosity. I scheduled my breakout sessions and walk-in labs two months prior to the event. If you are on Twitter, there is a Cisco Live tweetup group, comprised of IT professionals from all over the world, blogging and tweeting about everything related to network engineering. The Cisco Live tweetup is organized by Tom Hollingsworth (@networkingnerd). I highly recommend following the group on Twitter if you want to stay up to date with new product launches and miscellaneous networking chatter. The hashtag #CLUS trended during Cisco Live and a week before.

During the opening keynote, Cisco’s CMO, Christie Blair (@BlairChristie), mentioned 25,000 people attend Cisco Live in person. Like I said before, it’s the people who make Cisco Live an amazing event. The overall theme of Cisco Live was Internet of Everything (IoE) and Internet of Things (IoT). (For those confused about what IoE and IoT encompass, here is a great blog to help you understand the difference.) This was followed by Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, explaining to a packed audience how Cisco will focus on Software Defined Networking (SDN) and IoE.

CiscoLive

Breakout sessions (BRKT) are a technical 90-120 minute deep dive, presented by field experts. I fit in 11 breakout sessions, all focused on data center and storage networking, one of GTRI’s areas of expertise. They are available at Cisco Live Online. You can view presentations or download the presentation for reference. A few minutes of a technical deep dive is far more educational than reading 100 pages of documentation on the same topic. They are also very beneficial if you are preparing for your CCIE lab.

Cisco Live offered more than a dozen walk-in self-paced labs (WISP) covering routing and switching, security, virtualization, Application Centric Infrastructure (ACI), data center, etc. The best part about these labs is they are not timed, and you can read through the lab guide and ask the proctor to explain a certain technology, and then follow the specific steps in the lab process. The proctors were very helpful. One of the Data Center experts at the WISP labs was Robert Burns, who was the first person to pass the CCIE Data Center lab. He explained ACI in great detail.

World of Solutions (WoS) is the expo where industry experts share their real world experience and showcase solutions across different networking business units like Mobility, Security, Data Center, Collaboration, etc. You can meet with vendors who pitch their products and technologies. I networked with some of the vendors and saw some very innovative tools that would be helpful in a lot of networking projects. Since ACI is a trending topic, a lot of automation and monitoring products could be seen at WoS.

Cisco also demonstrated new products at the WoS. Product technical and marketing experts answered all questions related to their products. This is great information for solutions engineers. I learned a lot about the new Cisco Nexus switches, MDS SAN switches and UCS systems.

cisco networking

Another section of the WoS was the Technical Solutions Clinic (TSC). I made it a point to gather questions that I had come across in the course of my customer projects and CCIE studies. The Cisco engineers were able to answer all my technical questions, and we went over network architectures, troubleshooting tips and best practices. In one instance, one of the Cisco experts took a look at one of my customer configs that I had a problem with, and explained what could be done to fix it. I was awestruck by their knowledge and humility.

My most anticipated part of Cisco Live was the Customer Appreciation Event (CAE). One of my favorite music bands is Imagine Dragons (@Imaginedragons) and I got to see them perform live at CAE at the AT&T Park. Lenny Kravitz performed the opening act at CAE.

cisco live concert

I had a great time at Cisco Live. I learned a lot, and made new friends. IoE is going to change the way we look at networks. So engage, talk more and learn. That is my strategy for the next few years, to not stop learning.

I would like to thank Scott Hogg (@SCOTTHOGG) for providing valuable advice on how to make the most of Cisco Live. And thank you GTRI (@GTRI_Global) for giving me the opportunity to experience Cisco Live.

- Devavrat Oka (@dusty_dev)

Topics:CiscoData CenterData CenterStorage and ArchiveStorage Networking

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