Cisco Live…where do I start? This was my first year attending Networkers, though I have wanted to go since I knew what it was. It far exceeded my expectations, and they were pretty high. San Diego couldn’t have been a better venue for my first forray. It’s an easy city to navigate, not to mention it’s beautiful (understatement). The Convention Center was directly across from my hotel, can’t beat a quick walk…especially when you’ve already overslept for the 8am class…again!
I felt like the whole city was decked out in Cisco Live gear! I may have also decked myself out at the store. ;) I came in early on Saturday so I could register and find my way around, since I was scheduled to take the CCIE R&S Written on Sunday afternoon. Registration and material pickup were a breeze.
I think for any professional in this field, there is no better opportunity to meet your peers. I still can’t get over how many people I got to meet from all over the world, in every segment of networking. And the best part was, everyone was excited to be there and talk about what they did at home, what they were into, etc. Possibly we talked all night, on a few occasions (see late to 8am classes above ;) ). To me, it was almost like being in Cisco college for a week…meet new friends (17,000 new friends!), go to class at the crack of dawn (I am NOT a morning person), party all night, do it again the next day. It’s also possible I needed a few days to recover. ;)
The sessions – out of this world. It would take me hours to go into each one of them, but the standouts for me were as follows. If you went to San Diego or have access to the PDFs, I highly recommend downloading the class material.
- Highly Available Wide Area Network Design – David Prall – This was my first day, and it was a knockout. We are fortunate enough to work with David on occasion since he’s here in DC as well. He’s truly one of the best, and also one of the coolest guys ever. His class focused on optimization of WAN environments, and though ours is small, I picked up a lot of excellent information here that applies to any network. A lot of the information was new to me, so this was a great start to the week. David was also a great speaker with some excellent case-study type examples.
- Mastering Data Center QoS – Lucien Avramov– This session focused on QoS for the Nexus family, which is of course near and dear to my heart. ;) I mean, I do love all things Nexii. My QoS skills (not fabulous to begin with) haven’t been exercised much beyond CCIE study, so this was awesome for me. Like many engineers, I usually associate QoS with VoIP and video, but Lucien really brought to my attention how beneficial QoS can be in the Data Center for other traffic (Storage in particular). As we are in the process of standing up several new deployments, I was thrilled with this perspective, and am very excited to implement some of Lucien’s ideas. He also did an excellent job of helping us understand how to offer QoS for Data Center at the same time as VoIP and Video, and make it all work together. Fun, engaging session.
- Routed Fast Convergence and High Availability – Denise Fishburne – Denise was awesome; this was a great session. As someone who is in the process of a core re-design effort, this one gave me a *lot* to think about, especially paired with David’s session. Her “Culture of High Availability” was a great concept, and really helps to think about what engineers want to design towards. The big picture of high availability (even outside the routed protocols) along with coverage of NSF, BFD, and timer tweaking where appropriate definitely sent me home itching to rethink a few of my plans.
- Troubleshooting BGP – Daniel Walton – Last session on the last day, and I’m glad this was it. Dan definitely kept my attention the whole time, despite a flight out a few hours later. As someone whose perspective of BGP has been almost entirely from the CE side of the house, this was great. I’ve had a foray into iBGP in a VRF-Lite environment, but this filled in a lot of gaps for me, especially going into the CCIE Lab study. What was great is that everything Dan covered was absolutely useful, much of it for general troubleshooting and not just BGP. I especially liked his coverage of Bestpath selection and Table Version troubleshooting; things I had not yet gotten to see. Very helpful! Great end to the week.
Other home runs at Cisco Live:
- Mobility – Cisco’s conference iPhone/iPad app was awesome. I lived by it the whole week. Being able to use my phone to see where I was going next, move classes around, and find out the schedule for the day definitely helped. Also the ability to download PDFs and follow along during the sessions. When you’re short and can’t see the screen over 100+ people, this is key.
- Organization – I can’t believe they managed to pack 17,000 people into one convention center, feed us, get us from session to session, and still never feel like we were a total herd of cats was unbelievable.
- World of Solutions – Not only did I get to meet up with some excellent vendors and shop around for some products we may need, but Cisco’s own demos were fantastic. I got to see a lot of technology with which I don’t often get to interact. Fantastic.
- Customer Appreciation Party – They rented out Padre Stadium. Seriously? That was pretty incredible. As a huge baseball fan, I was thrilled to be running around on MLB grass. But Weezer, food, beer fireworks. Yes please!
- Mythbusters Closing Keynote – I mean, you just can’t say anything more than Mythbusters. Awesome.
What a week. I’m still coming down from the high of being there, and I left five days ago. Can’t wait for Cisco Live 2013 in Orlando!