Last week's Cisco Live marked the 26th anniversary of the conference amidst a significant transition for Cisco as a company and the industry as a whole. We all know Uncle John is passing the torch to SVP Chuck Robbins and the executive team is dramatically different. Fan favorite Padmasree Warrior was notably absent.
The hot topics at the conference are adapting, too, as networking professionals spread their wings into new areas. The most prominent topic this year was definitely software-defined networking. Chuck Robbins has emphasized he will simplify and accelerate Cisco's product development pace at which Cisco develops its products, so the next few years could bring us some amazing progress on the SDN front. That means more programming and app development, and the DevNet Zone was nearly doubled this year. There was a line at every station almost every time I walked in. I don’t see the demand for more information on SDN diminishing any time soon.
Cisco Modeling Labs and Virtual Internet Routing Lab (VIRL) is one of company's most exciting products this year. With VIRL, Cisco is finally offering students an affordable network virtualization platform that supports current versions of IOS, IOS XE, IOS XR, NX-OS, ASA, and Layer 2 switching. There is nothing else like it available for a Cisco certification student, and the VIRL booth inside the World of Solutions expo was packed. This is some seriously fantastic software that has already changed the way we lab.
Another new trend was mentoring, which is something I firmly believe is vital. This year, NetVets were asked to mentor first-time attendees. The program was developed via feedback from conference newbies, who can certainly find navigating the event rather challenging. Cisco also held a free Student Day program for local San Diego college students. This program was designed to help inspire technology students while preparing them for a future in the Industry. They were given access to the keynotes, World of Solutions, and DevNet Zone. I am glad to see Cisco investing in these programs, and I hope I can participate in the future.
The Internet of Things is on the roadmap for nearly every technology company. Cisco continued to push its vision of the Internet of Everything, but also showed it has been working on some concrete advances behind the scenes. One of the most interesting demonstrations in the World of Solutions expo was on smart lighting. Cisco's lighting nodes can form their own network and transmit a wide variety of environmental data, including humidity, carbon dioxide and oxygen levels, particulate matter, motion and seismic activity, video, and audio.
My overall Cisco Live experience was amazing, including some tremendous sessions and inspiring keynotes. But, most importantly, I was able to meet up with the connections I've made over the years who are more than just colleagues. They are my friends and family. And I couldn't ask for anything better.