The 2016 Cisco Live convention has just wrapped up, and I felt I should write a post-convention article as my own cathartic way of sending it out with a bow on top. It’s taken me a few days to gather my thoughts this time, as the convention was held in Las Vegas. While the adage that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas may or may not be true, the hangovers and weariness certainly follow you home, and certainly slow down the writing.
This year, the conference was held inside the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, and though the convention center is huge, we managed to fill it. In fact, as is the way every year, there are increasing numbers of people attending, with this year hitting around the 30,000 mark. Believe me, you could feel the crush of people. Walking in and out of keynotes, heading to lunch, and a few other times, it seemed like 5pm on the freeways in Los Angeles—as in, can’t get there from here. The staff at Cisco, and the staff at Mandalay Bay are very professional, so while the numbers of people may have been prohibitive at first blush, everything worked well, and we all were able to get where we were going, eventually. I do wonder what the average partygoer in Vegas thought being constantly surrounded by massive amounts of people wearing badges with varying levels of flair—most likely very bemused.
On another note, I have to say that the check-in process this year was by far the best I have experienced at any convention I have been to. While my case is no doubt an anomaly due to checking in at an odd time, I was very happy that the entire process took less than 5 minutes. Because Cisco moved to a pre-registration setup, where you checked in ahead of time and received a QR code, the process was significantly sped up. I walked up to the front, they scanned the code from my email, verified identity, and handed me my badge. Everyone I spoke to during the week had a similar experience, and agreed that registration this year was stellar.
I cannot comment on any of the sessions directly, as I did not attend any, though anecdotally I heard that they were as impressive and insightful as always. I came on a social pass this year, primarily because I had so many commitments that I knew I would likely not have time for any sessions. Cisco brings out their best speakers, subject matter experts, and customers every year, and this year was no different. There were many panels on a range of subjects, short two-hour sessions focusing on a given technology or product, and half or full day “techtorials” where a very granular, largely hands-on, subject was explored.
This year also saw the return of the very popular “hackathon,” which draws teams of programmers into the convention early—it begins on Saturday—for a 24-hour contest of coding chops. The contestants are given a subject (this year it was on preventing the declining bee population,) and told to contribute their best solution to the problem. The winners receive a monetary prize, and their solution is displayed for attendees to view. This event continues to grow, and with the movement of software coding into the realm of network engineering, I am confident it will grow even bigger next year.
There are always a lot of ancillary events at the conference, and as a Tech Field Day delegate, I am privileged to have been involved with the Tech Field Day Extra events this year. This is always a great place to see newly announced and emerging technologies, ask a lot of questions, and report back out to the community at large. It is something I am always grateful to be a part of, and it provides a valuable service to both the presenters and the viewers of the live stream or recorded videos. This year we heard from Opengear, Glue Networks, Veeam, and Cisco. I will be writing more on that later, so stay tuned for a series of articles recapping those presentations.
All in all, there are too many things that go on during the week for me to adequately describe in one blog post. I see great friends I only see once or twice a year, I met new friends, and I even sat in on a couple of live podcasts—one in which I was made to participate. There were many, many late nights, along with the predictable slow mornings, but it is always worth it nevertheless. Cisco Live is a conference I haven’t missed in seven plus years, and one I will not miss at any point in the future. If you attended this year, you know what I mean, and if you did not attend, make it a point to do so next year. You will not be disappointed. Just to make it easy, here’s the upcoming schedule:
- Las Vegas, June 26 – 29, 2017
- Orlando, June 10 – 14, 2018
- San Diego, June 9 – 13, 2019
- Las Vegas, May 31 – June 4, 2020
- Las Vegas, June 6 – 10, 2021
- Orlando, June 12 – 16, 2022
Also, check out a friend of mine’s blog on this year’s event, complete with pictures. She did what I failed to do this year, which is to capture many pictures of the event.