This was my first CiscoLive! and though I spoke to a number of prior attendees, I wasn’t completely sure what to expect. With over 650 technical sessions to choose from, a massive World of Solutions floor to engage with vendors, and the Hub full of technical experts, the entire experience seemed daunting at first. I decided focusing on a few specifics would help shape my schedule so I took the opportunity to do a deep dive on MPLS, troubleshooting, and a bit of troubleshooting. The quality of speakers was phenomenal and I was amazed at how knowledgeable they were and how easily they explained complex topics.
Some of the highlights included hearing Xander Thuijs, the principal engineer for ASR9K and IOS-XR and author of most of the documentation I end up reading, speak about ASR9K troubleshooting and architectures. Though he covered almost 200 slides in 2 hours it seemed like a breezy half hour chat. Another was the hands-on MPLS labs I attended on Sunday that took you through knowing nothing about MPLS to configuring, well this (see figure 1). I was so blown away by Faraz Shamim’s knowledge of OSPF during his troubleshooting session that I wouldn’t be surprised if he could out-OSPF Dijkstra!
However, easily my favourite session was Denise Fishburne’s Techniques of a Network Detective. Though she didn’t dig into any overtly technical subject areas, I left the session feeling like I had learned something extremely valuable: a reliable methodology. Sure, knowledge of your network and the technologies you use in it are extremely important but they are not more important than the process. Being prepared, letting the evidence guide you, and not getting stymied by assumptions seem completely obvious and yet we’ve all been in a situation where the pressure to solve a problem clouds our ability to do it. Being methodical and having solid procedures will shield you from (some) situational stress.
I’m sure most of you are also familiar with the social aspects of the conference, most specifically the Customer Appreciation Event. Previous years have featured performers like KISS, Lenny Kravitz, Weezer, and Imagine Dragons. Aerosmith, this year’s headliner, did not disappoint at Petco Park. They played the classics, put on a good show in the rain, and generally strutted around like the 40 year olds they haven’t been for decades. And, of course, this year’s CiscoLive! hat made its debut at the CAE. Not as flashy as previous years but this year’s white and black fedoras fit the bill nicely. Steven Tyler even snagged one for his finale.
Bring on Las Vegas 2016!