Cisco Live is information overload delivered at ludicrous speed from a fire hose. The annual U.S. conference took place last week in (mostly) sunny San Diego. There was no shortage of things to see, from partners and vendors displaying their latest and greatest blinky-light machines to deep dive technical breakouts.
I have attended Cisco Live off and on since 2008, and I have seen the conference grow, expand, and change. This year we witnessed the last keynote address from John Chambers and our first glimpse of Chuck Robbins. Chambers has always been known for his ability to engage an audience, leaving Robbins with some very big shoes to fill. I, for one, will be very interested in what happens over the next 12 months.
I can summarize my overall thoughts about the conference in a single word: change.
The biggest change I have observed is the increased focus on the developer community. Last year in San Francisco Cisco introduced the first iteration of the DevNet Zone, an area targeted directly at the developer community complete with the requisite 24-hour hack-a-thon. At that time, I couldn't quite wrap my head around what DevNet was supposed to be.
This year, the Zone was bigger and better executed. Applications spanned from the Internet of Things to SDN. There were enough sessions, walk-up labs, and one-on-one talks with developers and engineers that you could easily spend the entire week without leaving the Zone. Next year I predict an even bigger presence for DevNet, with the possibility it will become its own technology track.
But have no fear, we don't all need to run out and become developers. Not yet, at least…
It's still all about the network
Make no mistake, the core of Cisco Live is still the network, and there were plenty of sessions across the full spectrum of networking technology. Just beginning your network career and looking for certification info? You could find that. Need a deep dive on the architecture of the Catalyst 4500? Yup, you could find that too, and everything in between. The technical breakout sessions are extremely relevant for us practitioners.
My biggest complaint about the conference? There is so much information on offer that it can be hard to pick which sessions to attend. Fortunately, attendees can visit the website to check out the sessions they weren't able to attend.
Social networking opportunities
The social portion of the conference cannot be overstated. Cisco Live is a chance for me to connect with my peers and some of the smartest minds in the networking industry. Social media (specifically Twitter) has played a huge role in making what is a massive event a little more accessible and intimate.
And of course, let's not forget about the biggest social event of the whole conference: the Customer Appreciation Event. This year's event was my favorite by far, with Aerosmith providing an awesome show that didn't disappoint.
Next year's Cisco Live will floor in Las Vegas. While I'm not exactly looking forward to Las Vegas in July, I am looking forward to the conference, connecting with my compatriots, and seeing how far we have come in 12 months.