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A week in my life at Cisco Live London

February 1, 2013
at 4:23 am PST

It is not often you get a peek in the behind scenes of the Cisco Employees who put their personal lives on hold to support a major event like Cisco Live.  I am very sure this blog will not do justice to sharing one person’s perspective, but lets give it a try shall we?

Beginnings

First I would like to offer a huge thumbs up to the diligent, tireless, and professional craftsmen and craftswomen here in London who worked around the clock to build the World of Solutions that opened. Walking into the room Saturday, I was greeted with a mass of boxes, crates, entry racks, and bare floor.  Around the room was scurrying an army of workers all performing task to which I am sure seemed to come from an endless list.  The carpenters were running saws, hammers were going, coordinators could be seeing offering directions in various languages.

EIGRP/OSPF Challange Pod

By Monday morning, when I came in to set up the EIGRP/OSPF Challenge Pod, it was a complete marvel to watch, but I must admit, I as truly skeptical things would be ready when you waked in.  Nonetheless, I found my station and began loading the necessary software, working out the last minute kinks, and training the co-workers who would also be running things over the coming days.  Monday carried on, and by the end of the day, with feet weary, I heading on back to the hotel with a solid case of jet-lag. Having left with many boxes still about, and a room not yet fully carpeted, I found myself wondering, as I headed to sleep, what might greet me the next working.

Tuesday arrived with the sounds of the alarm clock. I have to say, it was much to early, feeling much more like 1am than the 6am the clock insisted it was. Nonetheless excitement, mixed with a dash of trepidation, to see how my past months work would be received, encouraged me to get to the show as quickly as I could.  Staying at the Aloft mean a short walk, for both a delicious British breakfast, and the Cisco Live event.

Greeting me at the event was Janel, Erin, missing only was Marcy who was instrumental in getting a Challenge Pod approved.  My personal thanks and admiration goes out to these ladies, without whom I am sure I could not have survived the week! Even with their tireless help, much of the next few days became a pleasant blur, meet many of you who was willing to be my victim.. err contestant in the Challenge.

The Challenge rules were simple; configure two routers, one with redistribution and summarization, and the other with authentication.  You had to do all this within 10 minutes using OSPF and EIGRP, and you had to use IPv6.  The booth attendant’s; Don, Chris, Rabiul , and Scott all help review the requirements with you as gave it a go.

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Wednesday was my big day.  Like the previous morning, I was first up for the Pod and was pleased to see even more of you stopping by to see what I had been tweeting about since Saturday.  Today was also the day I had my session, a recording, and I still badly needed time to once more review my session content.  About mid morning I meet a most delightful customer.  He has created his own shirt, and seeing our booth had to come over and share it with us.  On the front was a … lets just say a say “comment” about OSPF, and on the back was simply “EIGRP Rules”.

Coolest Shirt

Obviously he just had to do the challenge.   As fate would have it, as he was working away, my Director walks up with one of Cisco VPs to see the Pod.  Let me tell you I could not BUY this kind of press if I tried. Photos  (<Seen here on twitter>) were snapped, and a hardy laugh was had in the good humor the shirt was intended.

proxyproxy-2

The day proceed to FLY by and soon it was time for my taping with Chris.  This went fairly smooth, though honestly I can say I have ever seen me on TV and liked the results.  5 takes later, we had something that was not horrible. I have not seen the final version and I am sure its as bad as I remember it.

With the taping over I was shocked to see 4:30 was fast approaching – the appointed time for BRKIPM-2444 – and still I had not had time for a final review.   I dashed off to the Speaker Quite room and started flipping though the few slides.  My mouth became dry, and I could feel the butterfly’s swarming in by the thousands, so I closed my computer and went for some water.

On the WayMy Sesson Room

For a distraction I headed on over to my room and chatted with the ladies at the door to get my mind off the 128 pairs of eyes what would soon be trained on me.  It might come as a surprise, speaking does not come natural to me, and is something that I have had to learn to do.

Finally the time arrived the room began to fill.  Then it was 4:30:00.. “Welcome to Cisco Live London.  This is breakout session BRKIPM-2444; EIGRP – An in-depth look at the protocol….” and the show was on!

I know many of you had seen the slide deck available on ciscolive365, but I was still pleased to see the smiles beam (and some looks of doubt) when I told you I though  2013 would be an exciting time for the evaluation of EIGRP – Cisco is planning to create and information draft for Basic EIGRP.  Yes ,it was true. No, purgatory had not frozen over.

Don picked up then and began to talk about EIGRP and its operation, followed once aging with me giving you more information on the metrics (specifically wide metrics).   We finished off the session with an active Q&A on what was being done, and why we were doing it, why an informational, when can I down load the draft, etc?

Most of these questions are answered in the same way; EIGRP is an 18-year-old protocol with lots of history and lot of evolutionary steps along the way.  Writing the documentation, and putting it into the proper form for an IETF draft takes time – time which honestly has been short for me.   Why informational? Simply put. It’s the EASIEST way for us to get the information available to YOU.  I am convinced there will be the nay-sayers who “poo-poo” the informational status as some kind or trick or “open-but-closed so not valid” status.  I don’t believe this, nor do I accept it.  If I did, then there would be no point in me being involved in the process. I mean why would I bother?

Why I bother can be summed up with the comment made by one gentlemen who approached me at the end of the session.  He simply said “Thank you”.  I was touched to see how honest his expression was.  As we chatted, he went on to tell me he was an all Cisco shop, but he was getting pressure from his management to move off of EIGRP because it was not open.  He explained that EIGRP was perfect for his network, and they were trying to figure out how to proceed with their network,  For me, and the team of engineers writing the draft, this embodies our motivation – simply allow YOU, the customer, to deploy the best protocol for YOUR network.  Whether it is EIGRP, OSPF, or ISIS the choice should be based on technology, and not a non-technical mandate.  Use the tool that works for you.  I was proud to be able to say “You’re Welcome”

With this message shared, the session comes to a close, as does Wednesday.  Tired and amp’ed up, I head back to the hotel, sip down a cool brew, before heading to my room and wait for my speaker scores to show up, and see how I did.

Thursday is here. The last full day at Cisco Live London. The week is winding down.  I have to say I have mixed emotions; happy to be going home, but what a wonderful week! I have meet many of you, chatted with you, and come to know new friends.  You have visited the booth and shook my hand; some of us exchanged cards and emails with the promise to stay in touch.  This is what makes technology cool.  People on opposite sides of the world can meet, exchange ideas, and help one another solve problems.  Truly Tomorrow Starts Here;  and today, Here was at Cisco Live London with my new friends.

Have a great Tomorrow!

Tommorrow

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