I’ve had a few days back at home. I’m fully recovered from the jet-lag and general lack of sleep. The non-stop geek-fest that is Cisco Live is now over. With some time to look back at everything that happened in San Diego, I’m blown away by how this might have been one of the best events I’ve been to in 16 years and how it’s too bad that it’s going to be a whole year before we get to do it again. Here are some of the things that made a huge impression on many of the attendees I spoke to that week.
1. Cloud Connected Solution Launch
Cisco Live was the week that a lot of hard work by a lot of folks really came together. We’ve all been hearing about the impending cloud tsunami with IT Staff tasked to move applications into the cloud for improved security and reduced costs. However, traditional networks were never designed to support this new way of delivering rich applications to users in branch offices. The Connected Cloud launch introduced several important new technologies designed to make this transition to the cloud a bit less painful Techwise TV with Jimmy Ray Purser and Robb Boyd did a summary at CiscoLive, and I’ve listed out some of these solutions below:
- UCS E Series – Server Blades dramatically more powerful than anything available in an integrated platform that combine the power of a UCS server with the flexibility of an ISR G2 branch platform. The options for running powerful virtual machines in a branch environment are nearly limitless.
- Application Visibility and Control (AVC) – Real layer 7 deep-packet-inspection in the network means you can now separate all those cloud applications that fall on top of one another and give each the appropriate level of service from the network.
- Cloud Services Router 1000v (CSR 1000v) – You know you’re in Buck Rogers territory when we start talking about “Virtual Data Centers,” but that’s the latest trend in cloud computing. The CSR1000v makes those VDCs hum by bringing a full data-center class router into the cloud.
- Cisco Cloud Connectors – Ever think about pulling a piece of the cloud down into the branch for better reliability, security or performance? That’s exactly what Cisco Cloud Connectors do for your branch environment and now you can even build your own.
- Cisco AppNav, ASR 1002-X, FlexVPN, ScanSafe Connector, Survivable Remote Site Telephony for Hosted Collaboration Solution, Cisco Prime Assurance Manager and way more than they give us space for here. Check it out in detail: http://www.cisco.com/go/cloudconnected
Attendees in years past told us they wanted more keynotes and executive sessions. Well the event organizers heard them loud and clear. This year there were no less than seven keynotes plus three executive Q&A sessions. There were so many great keynotes you couldn’t possibly get to them all, which is why it’s great that you can check them out online.
The talk in the hallways was all about the quality of the keynotes this year and how much “meat and taters” as my friend Jimmy Ray Purser likes to say, that they had in them. Most weren’t the fluffy executive keynotes that you expect to see at a conference. The keynotes broke down trends in the industry with some real-world examples of how technology is being brought to bear against many of the problems we’re all facing in IT today. They also included some real technology demonstrations to showcase the state-of-the-art today and tomorrow. Speaking from experience, these were some truly impressive real live demos and not the smoke-and-mirrors executive demo that looks good but doesn’t actually work under the covers.
3. Software Defined Networks and onePK
Cisco made a big splash in the Software Defined Network world with the introduction of the onePK API set. onePK is all about creating an easy-to-use toolkit that allows you to build applications that can pull off some pretty impressive interaction with the network. With onePK, it’s possible to write an application in your language of choice that interacts with an entire network of Cisco devices regardless of architecture or place in the network. There was an impressive collection of Cisco and partner applications on hand to show off some of the things that can be done when applications are tightly coupled with the network.
- Want to write your own custom routing protocol that takes into account the cost-per-megabyte for each WAN link? No problem.
- Interested in implementing your own custom encryption algorithms? No sweat.
- Want to write a management application that discovers your network and checks the MTU sizes everywhere? Not even a challenge.
- Implementing your own OpenFlow architecture? No hay problema.
With the onePK set of APIs, the definition of what makes a “Software Defined Network” is radically changing.
4. San Diego
The biggest star at Cisco Live this year might not have been a person or a technology at all. It just might have been the location. Even with what the locals would consider lousy weather; this might have been one of the best locations in recent memory. They’ve really done a fantastic job with the convention center and the surrounding area. They were able to handle 18,000 attendees and staff with no problem. With plenty of hotels, restaurants, bars and attractions, there’s never really a need to venture too far away from the convention area and Gaslamp quarter. Since the local weather never seemed to vary more than a few degrees, walking became the preferred mode of transportation. The number of attendees that commented on what an excellent time they were having in the city and how this might be their first time there but they’ll definitely be back is something you just don’t hear at most convention sites.
In this job we go to a LOT of conferences. Many of them give you free backpacks and shirts, and some of them have parties with bands like Weezer, as we did for the customer appreciation event. However, no other conference that we go to has the same level of enthusiasm from the attendees. I’ve been going to Cisco Live and Networkers for 15 years now and it’s the excitement of seeing some of the same old faces year after year mixed in with some new faces that make every year a blast. There’s no doubt that it’s a drag pulling slides together and getting ready for weeks away from home, but the exciting discussions we have with attendees and seeing a random group of strangers talk through their own success and horror stories around lunch make us realize how we’re all in this together trying to keep the data flowing as best we can. There’s no substitute for the thrill of working through a complex design problem with an attendee. Then we get to do that several times a day with virtually everyone we meet. Sign me up for next year!