I arrived in Milan for the annual Cisco Live conference for networkers and was immediately excited by the buzz the change in host city generated (from London last year) as well as opportunity that all 7,000 attendees had to learn about connecting technology architecture with business architecture to better enable their businesses. From the keynote kickoff by Rob Lloyd all the way to the customer appreciation event featuring Dire Straits, the Milano Congressi was jumping!

This was my first time attending Cisco Live outside of North America and also my first time attending the IT Management track. I found the dedicated track for the management side of technology to be a fantastic opportunity to connect with different industry IT leaders over a three-day period, exchange ideas and strategies, and share (and sometimes commiserate) over our common concerns. Although a number of the sessions in ITM were designed to share IT best practices, we also got the chance to hear from Cisco’s technology leaders about cloud, security, data centers and SDN in a more intimate setting. Jamie Lerner, David Yen, Chris Young, Soni Jiandani, and Sujai Hejala were willing to answer any and all questions. What a fantastic opportunity for everyone there.

Outside of the sessions, all of us had a chance to explore the cool technologies and services that were showcased in the World of Solutions. Beyond getting to interact with these different solutions in a hands-on manner, there were a number of Cisco partners who help our customers turn technology into business solutions that were available to discuss what they do and how they help bring value to all different types of customers.

Capping off the entire week was the Customer Appreciation Event that was immediately after the closing keynote. The bottom floor of the Milano Congressi was transformed into snippets of Italian culture with local food and beverages that everyone enjoyed immensely. The entertainment however diverted from the Italian scene and was pure British rock. Incredible performances by the RPJ Band and Dire Straits had the crowd jumping the entire time!

Overall, I had a fantastic week and can’t wait to be back in Milan next year for Cisco Live 2015!