It definitely took the long weekend to recover from the energy of Cisco Live. From the keynotes to the innovation talks to the DevNet Zone and the show floor, I definitely got my convention center mileage numbers. I’m probably due for an oil change. The good news is that some of those footsteps are going to provide energy for schools. The Cisco Live team placed kinetic tiles in the major hallway and pledged to donate the equivalent of the kinetic energy created by attendee footsteps to schools in Nepal. The goal was 1 million steps. Attendees easily hiked past 2 million steps.

The final day of the show didn’t disappoint. There was a full agenda of sessions, innovation talks, and – of course – the celebrity keynote to close out the week’s event.

Worried about putting data in the cloud? 
Collaboration VP and CTO Jonathan Rosenberg made a room full of people nervous – on purpose. The session title probably provided a clue: “Worried About Putting Your Data in the Cloud? Good, You Should Be.” Wait, why is this guy who spends so much time focused on cloud technology trying to scare me? Complacency is dangerous. Information is powerful.

Think about it, 93% of organizations today are using cloud services. No one, and certainly not Jonathan, will dispute the huge advantages of cloud and software as a service (SaaS). But these services bring with them more security challenges. As Jonathan explained, one of the real problems of cloud is the “honeypot” problem. Instead of companies having close control over their own data in their own data centers, much of that data is in the hands of SaaS vendors.

“I’m a believer in SaaS as a way to make people’s lives better at work,” Jonathan confirmed. “But not if you don’t do it securely.”

Now you don’t have to attack five data centers, you go for the SaaS vendor. For example, if you’re “Bad Guys R Us” and your goal is to attack the automotive industry, you just need to go after their common SaaS vendor. And if you’re trusting your SaaS vendor, you’re also trusting all their secondary providers and their employees. Consider how much user-generated content exists across your email, messaging, and data platforms: Strategy discussions and documents, financial information, product roadmaps. Kinda scary, right?

“Data flows like water in the cloud.”

Jonathan Rosenberg

The standard “encryption in transit and at rest” alone is no longer enough. There are hundreds of servers in between. But end-to-end encryption works very differently. Your data is always encrypted. The keys are not in the cloud. You have the ability to provide compliance personnel the access they need within the parameters you define. This is the difference between Cisco Spark and other cloud solutions: encryption itself isn’t enough. It’s about where and how it’s encrypted – and who has the keys.

Two questions to ask your SaaS vendor:
1. Does your system use end-to-end encryption on our user content?
2. Can my compliance personnel access user content?

The main point – you hold the keys. You have the control. The same variety of potential attacks against SaaS vendors can’t reach your data. Watch the full session here, including a deeper dive on end-to-end encryption:

It’s not every day you make it into an executive presentation at Cisco Live, especially being called out as a trouble maker. I can blame Jonathan for my reputation going forward. Thankfully, the compliance and security teams have not reached out (yet) to confirm any on-stage rumors of true non-compliant network activity. In truth, I’m 100% flattered.

Chickens, beware…
And the award for best imitation of nervous poultry by an award-winning actor at a major technology event goes to Bryan Cranston for his performance at the closing keynote. You can doubt me now, but once you watch the video, you’ll agree.

Bryan Cranston onstage at CLUS.Bryan Cranston and Cisco CEO Chuck Robbins shared the stage, starting their conversation with what they have in common: Childhoods with chickens. They shared great stories about chickens and storytelling grandfathers, two things that may be inextricably linked. The exchange was definitely entertaining.

The conversation ventured out of the barnyard into work ethic, celebrity, and even a bit of figure-skating history. “I maintain the blue-collar work ethic, said Cranston. “I don’t have any expectations of the world owing me anything.”

And somehow, it came back to the barnyard.

Cranston: “I’m not completely comfortable in celebrity. It is what happened. And it happened from doing work.”
Robbins: “If it’s worth anything, you just come across to me like a blue-collar chicken killer.”

I’m trying to decide where I fit…
Am I the clown of collaboration? A twit of Twitter? The snark of Cisco Spark?

Thanks for a great week!
It was a busy week, but it was a good week. In particular, the final day of Cisco Live US 2017 was a day of firsts. It was my first time:

  • Being name-dropped in a CTO’s presentation
  • Handing a teddy bear to a CEO (as in Chuck Robbins himself)
  • Witnessing an award-winning actor nail a spot-on imitation of a chicken on a keynote stage.

A day for the record books! And with that, 2017’s de facto summer camp for nerds is a done deal.

Catch up with what happened with collaboration during Day 1Day 2, and Day 3 of the show.

For video of the major keynotes and talks, plus photos from each day, check out the daily highlights from the Cisco Live team.

Keep watch on Twitter for the adventures of the Cisco Spark Bear. He made quite the social media splash last week and his cousins have traveled as far as Saudi Arabia to share their Cisco Live experiences. He’s still showing up in tweets with #CiscoSpark. I have it on good authority that he plans to continue to drop by the @CiscoCollab Twitter feed on a regular basis. A variety of his adventures from last week.


Kim Austin

No Longer with Cisco