Cisco Live 2012 Recap :: San Diego, CA

2012-10-18 15:34:46

It's been over a week now since CL2012 wrapped up - and what an awesome week! I already miss San Diego and the Gaslamp District - what a great city and area just to walk around and enjoy the ambiance. Great choice Cisco! Too bad it will be another three years before we return to this great city for Live. With that said, for anyone who did not make it, let's discuss how the week went and my take on this vs. last year, and why Cisco Live is simply one of the best weeks of the year for anyone passionate about Cisco or networking at large.

As the saying goes, it's not always what you know, but who you know. This is just as true in our industry despite the high value placed on individual aptitude and skillset. Sure, everyone focuses on your own toolbox of skills, it's critical to advance your career. You need to stay current and you need to grow professionally - something anyone who has been in the industry for more than a day or two will come to appreciate. And yet - knowing people within the industry can be just as crucial.

This is one of the greatest benefits from Cisco Live - getting to meet all kinds of people around what I refer to as the Cisco ecosystem: folks internal to Cisco, instructors from all the great learning vendors, people who work for other partners, vendors who have booths at World Of Solutions, etc. This year I was able to meet a few new people, as well as catch up with old friends. I even got the chance to meet Terry Slattery, CCIE # 1026! Now that was a trip - watching our other VIP Paul Stewart take a photo of Terry, Narbik Kocharians, as well as IP Expert's Marko Milivojevic. Now that is a heck of a talented group! I also got the opportunity to meet Cisco Press’ Jamie Shoup, caught up with Wendell Odom, and of course got to spend time with our other VIPs throughout the week. Always a great group to hang out with!

I think the happening spot this year for non-CCIEs was probably the Learning @ Cisco Certification Lounge. Walking around there you were always liable to run into people you will recognize – in addition to all of the great people I mentioned above, I also met up with some of the CCIE Program Managers, some of the Learning @ Cisco people that do so much work behind the scenes keeping up with the event and bringing us the new content and delivering new products and tools throughout the year. It was certainly quite a busy place – especially the first day when all of the CCIEs got their tattoos!

Last year was my first year attending Live, so I was not familiar with the various types of sessions you can attend there. Monday through Thursday is a full week of technical sessions, interview panels, and lecturs on just about every topic you can think of that relates to Cisco and their technology groups. After attending some great sessions as well as some not-so-great sessions last year, I was better prepared in selecting my session schedule this year. Since I recently started a new job with a leading Cisco partner focusing on Security and their BYOD practice, I naturally loaded up heavy on security topics. Namely, TrustSec, ISE, BYOD, and associated topics like ASAs and IPS sessions. I must say, this year's technical sessions were excellent. The two sessions I enjoyed the most were Advanced ISE Deployment Best Practices, and Firewall Architectures. Not only were the topics extremely interesting, but both presenters were very knowledgable and great and conveying the information. I always find the best value in lectures/training when the instructor brings real world experience paired with a high degree of topic knowledge, it helps them introduce relevence into the discussion, which is critical to keep me interested in a topic!

I also managed to attend two interview panels, one was for BYOD and it featured IT leaders from some top companies such as Cisco, Intel, as well as reps from higher education and finance. This was a very intruiging session not just to hear what these panelists had to say about BYOD, it’s impact on their business and culture internal to their company, as well as what drove them to implement it; I found that I was also very keen to hear the questions and opinions from those within the crowd. Hearing from so many individuals who are facing the challenge to implement BYOD at some level, the questions they asked, the tough choices they face, it was a great exercise in building perspective.

The other panel included L@C's own Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, Cisco CIO Rebecca Jacoby, as well as venture capitalist and ex-Sun CTO Greg Papadopoulos. The focus of this panel was future talent development, not just in how do we continue to foster growth amongst new recruits within the IT realm, but also how do those of us already in the game, improve our skillsets and take them to the next level. There were two major concepts that came out of that panel that will lead to success - cost accounting and leadership. Learn how to speak the language of those funding your projects, and learn how to lead collaboratively.  Learn how to communicate effectively with your team, learn their dynamics, and learn to become an integral part of enabling their success. Being a rock star without the backing of your team does not mean much these days.

The CCIE party this year was quite an experience, Cisco hosted it on the USS Midway. If you want to see some pictures, you can check out Learning @ Cisco on Facebook. Lots of history, lots of friends, wound up being a great time. Note to self - fly on the simulator earlier next time.
Last year I missed the Customer Appreciation Event, which probably worked out for the best. It was over a half hour away from my hotel, and since I'm not a huge fan of crowded bus rides...well...c'est la vie. This year it was a brisk 10 minute walk from my hotel(it was merely across the street from the Convention Center where Live was being held). It certainly did not hurt that it was held at Petco Field, home of the San Diego Padres, or that Weezer was the feature band!

By the end of the week I was ready to return home, to recuperate and get ready for another week at work(which ironically involved travelling to yet another city...again).  I am already looking forward to hopefully attending next year in Orlando- as a newly minted NetVet!! Thanks again to the CLN team for having me out there, as always I would otherwise not had the opportunity to make it.
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