It is a privilege to serve in the CiscoLive NOC. Our team of 60 people worked hard to pre-stage, implement, and monitor the event held earlier this month at the RAI Amsterdam.

Cisco Live AmsterdamThe RAI Amsterdam as seen from the south at the nhow hotel

As you can imagine it takes quite a bit of planning and effort to transform an empty conference venue into the showcase we intend for customers, partners, press and employees. The wireless involved setting up a pair of Catalyst 9800-80 wireless LAN controllers to serve the main conference of 506 Cisco Catalyst 9120, 9130, 9124 and 9166I series APs. A second pair of Catalyst 9800-80 wireless LAN controllers served the Keynote area of 92 Cisco Catalyst 9104 series APs. Finally, a third pair of Catalyst 9800-40 wireless LAN controllers served the Meeting Village and Breakout areas of 138 Cisco Catalyst 9166I/D1 (Wi-Fi 6E) series APs. The NOC team took over the management of the RAI Amsterdam’s existing APs from their WLCs to our event WLCs. Some fill-in AP installs were done to augment coverage and for the keynote area.

Cisco Live NOCBack of house NOC work area with wireless antennas to be deployed

              Cisco Live Amsterdam

Cisco Live AmsterdamProgressive build-out of the CiscoLive World of Solutions in RAI Amsterdam Hall 1

We heavily rely on monitoring and management solutions like Catalyst Center, Umbrella, and ThousandEyes, to name a few. In my regular role at Cisco as part of the DevNet team we evangelize network programmability, automation, and the use of APIs. So, I tend to focus on adding additional value in the NOC through extracting the embedded telemetry and instrumentation in our products through using open source and ‘made to spec’ programs.

A typical dashboard used by the NOC may be created by a Python script extracting NETCONF/YANG, SNMP MIB or CLI ‘show command’ data from a device, then normalizing the information for injection to InfluxDB, then rendering with Grafana.

Cisco Live AmsterdamThe NOC demo area in RAI Amsterdam Hall 7

Cisco Live AmsterdamA ‘built to spec’ dashboard showing an HA pair of 9800 WLCs and their operational states

Cisco Live AmsterdamTotal wireless clients by controller cluster and IEEE standard

Cisco Live AmsterdamHeatmap showing wireless client counts, transmit/receive utilization, and channel utilization, per AP

Our newest dashboard, created this year for CiscoLive Amsterdam, was a Sankey diagram depicting the wireless client count splits across SSIDs, WPA and wireless protocol capability.

Cisco Live AmsterdamSankey diagram identifying splits of wireless clients across SSID/WPA and wireless capability

This dashboard helped us to understand if some clients could have a better wireless experience if they used a more optimal SSID/WPA selection. What we could see are some clients defaulted to or picked the ‘CiscoLive’ SSID serving WPA2, the second generation Wi-Fi Protected Access wireless security protocol.  However, 9% of these were also Wi-Fi 6E (6 GHz) capable.  We know the Wi-Fi Alliance mandated support for WPA3 security for Wi-Fi 6, so all 802.11ax radios must support WPA3. Those clients could have received a better experience connected to the ‘CiscoLive-WPA3’ SSID, as mentioned on the back of the attendee badges.  Sometimes problems are solved technologically – other times, socially.

We are also interested in the adoption rates and ratios of clients to IEEE standard. A few dashboards helps us specifically identify those clients by SSID and others without the SSID categorization.

Cisco Live AmsterdamWireless client distribution by SSID and wireless standard

Cisco Live AmsterdamDashboard showing ratios of wireless clients by wireless standard

The event saw the maximum number of wireless clients, 16024, on the second day, February 7 at 12:06 CET.  In that 20.17% of the clients were using Wi-Fi5 (802.11ac), and 75.97% were Wi-Fi6 (802.11ax 5GHz).  Comparing this to last summer’s CiscoLive US in Las Vegas, we grew from 66.8% Wi-Fi6.  Finally, compared to last year’s CiscoLive Europe in Amsterdam 2023, we grew from 62% Wi-Fi6.  Considering the years spent on Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac), it’s nice we’re seeing migration to newer capabilities.

Moving forward we will build even more reports and dashboards to gain other insights about adoption and how we can make technology even more seamless.

Here’s a YouTube video with more background


Jason Davis

Distinguished Engineer

Cisco Developer Relations