Cisco Live 2015, Antennas, & Mike Rowe

Last month I attended Cisco Live! 2015. I’m a big fan of this conference and always feel like it’s a great event. This year was a large show with around 25,000 attendees, well over 700 sessions, hundreds of vendors, and only four days to take in as much as you can.  It is summer camp for geeks, where we get to learn new things and talk to everyone we haven’t seen since last year’s conference.

The Keynote

This year’s conference was historic as the last Cisco Live with John Chambers as the CEO of Cisco. At the end of his keynote he brought out his replacement, Chuck Robbins. They said all the things you expect them to say, but we’ll have to see how everything shakes out with the changes this brings. After 25 years with Chambers at the helm, this is going to be quite the transition for Cisco. It will be interesting to watch over the next few years, but I’m optimistic that things will go well.

The Antennas

One of the more interesting things I was able to get a close look at is the new Hyperlocation Module for Cisco APs. It uses a new version of the WSM (WSM2, I believe) and wraps around the AP. They made a cool version of the module that allows you to see the antenna arrays inside.

Cisco Hyperlocation Module, Transparent Edition

Cisco Hyperlocation Module, Transparent Edition

The idea here is that with this array of antennas, they can determine the Angle of Arrival of a Wi-Fi signal. This allows a much more precise calculation of location and with these you can improve from the previous best case of about 3m of accuracy to about 1m of accuracy. That’s some pretty precise location information. Potentially more important, this will give more flexibility in design. You no longer will need to have APs all the way out in the corners of a building to get good location information. They also said that the module is where they do their research and try out new things before including them in the AP. There is an implication that they will try to get this technology inside the next generation of APs. Imagine if all your APs just had something like this built in. Designing a wireless deployment for 5GHz might naturally be a location capable design if you choose the right APs.

I also learned about a new patch antenna. The 2513P stadium patch antenna available from Cisco has 30 degree beam width and the 2566P patch has a beam width between 105 and 120 degrees, depending on the band. They wanted something in between so there is now a 2566D that has a 60 degree beam width. If you’ve ever worked with the 2566P, you know about dealing with the cables. There just are not many good ways to install that antenna in an aesthetically pleasing manner. The 2566D helps with that. The antenna will mount flush to the wall with the cables either going straight out the bottom or straight out the back. This gives you options for a much cleaner installation.

Cisco AIR-ANT2566D4M-R Antenna

Cisco AIR-ANT2566D4M-R Antenna

The Dirty Jobs

The conference ended with a closing keynote from Mike Rowe, who told the story of what led to the creation of the Mike Rowe Works Foundation. Mike started the foundation to provide scholarships to those who wanted to work hard and learn a skilled trade. He was very entertaining, but had a message that things are out of whack in the US when many people are out of work, yet jobs remain unfilled. Many of those jobs are from the skilled trades such welders, plumbers, and electricians. Jobs that don’t require a college degree, yet people are racking up huge debt from student loans for an education to get a job that may not exist. Mike Rowe seems like a down to earth guy and he’s leveraged his position to do some good work. You might consider checking out if you like the sound of what he’s doing. You can also view his keynote online at the Cisco Live on-demand library (free account required).

I have more to say, but that’s enough for now. I’m already looking forward to next year’s conference. In fact, I’m already registered!


My Cisco Live Schedule

First of all, if you are a Cisco Live NetVet, the scheduler is open at If you are not a NetVet, it will open for you on March 31st.

I’ve spent a bit of time tweaking my schedule and here’s my current plan:

My schedule for Cisco Live

Scott’s schedule for Cisco Live

I suspect I may want to change things up a little after the technical seminar on Sunday. I might also change things after the slides are released and I can see what the plan is for those sessions. Focus this year is obviously on wireless. :) I’m looking to learn more about are CMX and all the changes that have come with MSE 10. I’m not using CMX right now, but the need for it and the value are starting to rise. My current architecture is centralized controllers and FlexConnect APs. This has some limitations, so I’ll be looking to learn more about the converged access solution to see if I can leverage the 3650s we’ve been deploying to get the APs back to local mode, but still have the branch traffic stay in the branch. I might drop a session to spend some quality time in the WoS without a huge crowd, but I’ll have to see what the session slides say first. I haven’t looked to see what recent recordings are available in the Cisco Live On-demand Library, either. Might be able to free up a session or two that way, as well.

I dropped the industry keynote and replaced it with the CCIE Wireless written exam. I’ve taken the R&S exam a couple times before and didn’t quite make the cut, but I’ve been doing a lot more wireless work than routing work, so I’m optimistic that I can get a better score here. We’ll see how I do in a few months. :)


Cisco Live 2014 Day 1

Pedometer Stats

Todays stats for the Official Unofficial Cisco Live Pedometer were:

Steps: 7611
KCals: 411
Miles: 3.6

Not as much as I expected for today. Maybe things are closer than I at first thought.

VIRL & CML Update

I had a chance to talk with some of the CML/VIRL team today and learned a few things of note:

  • VIRL (Virtual Internet Routing Labs) is back as the personal/developer edition and will be available through the Cisco DevNet. For free. Yes, you read that right!
    • I believe this will support up to 15 Cisco VMs and as many other VMs (Linux guests, etc) as fit in your RAM, but I need to verify the 15 number is still accurate.
    • The quid pro quo for this deal is they will be collecting data. They will be completely up front about this, the data they are collecting, and will transmit it in clear text. The data they will be collecting is going to be things like what kinds of virtual devices you launch, how many, what specific features you use, and that sort of general statistics. They will not collect any configuration information.
    • No NX-OS at this time. The virtual NX-OS is just not ready, yet.
    • Still no L2, but they have a prototype already for adding this in the future. It will be coming, just not right away.
    • This will be community supported.
  • CML (Cisco Modeling Labs) is the corporate version. This is licensed by the node, can scale much larger, and will have Cisco support. I have not seen pricing for this, but expect it to be priced for corporate use.
  • I have no release dates for either of these, but it does sound like they are pretty close to being able to ship it.

I’m really looking forward to this. It’s going to be a great tool for both validation and learning.

There was more to the day, but those were the bits that are probably most interesting for the moment.


Cisco Live 2014 Day 0

The Official Unofficial #CLUS Pedometer

The Official Unofficial #CLUS Pedometer

So It Begins

It’s that time of year again when I break out the Official Unofficial #CLUS Pedometer. Today wasn’t a very busy day and I didn’t actually have any technical sessions, so the count is pretty low.

Steps: 5272

KCals: 285

Miles: 2.499

Not stellar numbers, but I assure you they will be bigger tomorrow!

Today consisted of a morning of last minute studying for the CCIE R&S written, followed by failing the CCIE R&S written, and in turn followed by regret for wasting my “free” exam on a test that I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to pass. Oh well, hind sight is 20/20. If I can find some time later this week, I have a couple other exams I’m thinking of taking that I’m much more likely to pass. I don’t think I’ve left a Cisco Live without passing a test, yet.

Social Media Hub

I spent most of my afternoon catching up with old friends and meeting new ones at the Social Media Hub as people started to arrive for the conference in force. It was a good time talking about all kinds of mostly geeky stuff. Later in the afternoon was the official tweet up with probably a couple hundred people powered by caffeine and sugar. Meeting more people and doing more geek talk.

Cisco Empowered Women’s Network

After meeting with people for a bit, a group of went over to the Cisco Empowered Women’s Network session. We went over primarily to see Amy Lewis (@commsninja) speak, but ended up staying to hear Carlos Dominguez (@carlosdominguez) speak as well. Both were very good talks. Amy spoke about social and how it can be used for you and your career. Carlos’ talk was about how these tools are both disruptors and enablers and how they can be used for the greater good and to create change. Both were humorous and informative. I suspect some of the earlier talks must have been pretty good, too. If you want to check out the video, it should show up at this URL sometime in the next few weeks: CEWN-1000 – Cisco Empowered Women’s Network – Today. Tomorrow. Transformed.

On Monday, the real learning begins.


2014 Cisco Live Bag

Cisco Live 2014 Bag
It’s getting close to Cisco Live and this year’s bag has been revealed. This is the official photo from Cisco and a couple of spy photos that I’ve been able to obtain from a source close to the project.

Joking aside, it looks like it might be a bit smaller than the recent bags and is one of the convertible messenger/backpack styles. I’m looking forward to getting mine and seeing if it’s going to replace my bag from 2013. which hasn’t quite made it through the last year unscathed…

Cisco Live 2014 Bag Spy PhotoCisco Live 2014 Inside

Cisco Live 2013 Highlights Edition

The giant Cisco Live sign returns.

The giant Cisco Live sign returned for 2013

Cisco Live 2013 was a great week of learning and networking (in both senses). I went to some great sessions, a few of which I’ll highlight below, and spent time talking to some great people. I obtained a Cisco branded pedometer through Cisco Preferred Access to track how much walking I was doing at the conference. I did this partially as a joke and partially because I was curious. By the end of the week I had walked 51841 steps, burned 2801 kcals, and walked 24.5 miles. Yes, 24.5 miles. What’s more, two of the days I only had partial data, so I estimate I likely hit around 30 miles walked. That’s a lot of walking… Here’s a handful of things I thought were interesting:

A Cisco Catalyst 6807-XL with a 6800ai on top

A Cisco Catalyst 6807-XL with a 6800ai on top

Catalyst 6800

The new 6800 series are an upgrade to the 6500 series. The main differences are that it’s gold in color and has a much faster backplane at 880Gb per slot. It’s basically a 6500 with an improved backplane. The current supervisor is a Sup2T. There will be 100Gb interfaces soon and there 40Gb interfaces will be available at launch. There’s also a 6800ai that is a FEX for the 6800 that has 48 1Gb ports and PoE support. Greg Ferro wrote an article about it at Network Computing: Cisco Catalyst Refresh Gives Customers Just What They Want. One thing I heard a lot of people comment on was that the power inputs are separate from the power supplies. This will definitely make swapping a PSU simpler.

A Nexus 7710 and a Nexus 7718 on display at Cisco Live 2013

A Nexus 7710 and a Nexus 7718 on display at Cisco Live 2013

Nexus 7700

I need to look into this further, but the one liner on the new Nexus 7700 is bigger, faster, and less more(?) power. The lower power usage is the one that really jumps out at me, because the 7000’s used a lot! Now that I’ve looked at the data sheets, I see the Nexus 7700 can use more power than the 7000. Max heat dissipation for the 7018 is 18kW. The 7718 is 28kW. Of course, those are maximums, though it’s theoretically possible that the unit uses less in practice, it seems unlikely that the max would be so much higher if the system didn’t actually use more power.  The new 18 slot chassis is 26RU. For those keeping score at home, that means you’re either using 52RU racks or you’re only fitting one of these in a rack. Given that a fully loaded unit can weight 900lbs, you probably don’t want to do that, anyway…

4451-X ISR

The 4451-X ISR is the new powerhouse for ISRs with up to 2Gb of throughput. Miercom has a very brief report on it. I’ve been told this will be sold around the 3900 series price point. This looks like a pretty powerful little router.


Virtual Internet Routing Lab. Think GNS3, but created by Cisco and needing less system resources. Oh, and it’ll be free. I could try to explain it here, but Cisco does a better job in this blog post: VIRL Saves the Day! Watch the Packet Pushers Podcast for an episode talking about VIRL, IoL, and OnePK with Brian Dennis in the near future. I’m hoping VIRL comes out soon, but I didn’t hear any dates mentioned.


I finally have an understanding of what OnePK is. All the interfaces you use to manage now (SSH, CLI, RMON, SNMP, etc) can basically be replaced by using OnePK. It’s an API that gives you access to your router and you can change just about anything with it. You can also gather statistics and gather the state of the system. For example, if you used to run an expect script that fired off an ssh session, ran a CLI command,  parsed the output and did anything with that output, you can do it more easily with onePK. No parsing, just pull the data you want out of the object. Check out the recording of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK when it goes live on There are a few great demos that’ll really help you grasp what this does. Currently, the supported languages are C, Java and Python, but I suspect most of us will interface with onePK using Python. July-ish there is supposed to be an all-in-one VM image made available that will include everything you need (including IOS on Linux) for testing. It will be on and it will be free.


Attendees at a session during Cisco Live 2013

Attendees at a session during Cisco Live 2013

One of the greatest things that Cisco Live does is record a huge number (if not most) of the sessions and put them up for free access on Cisco Live 365 (which I’ve written about before.) As of this writing (Jul 1, 2013) the videos are not up, but the target is for them to be available on July 5th.

My favorite session of the week was BRKRST-3114, The Art of Network Architecture.  This was Denise Donohue, Scott Morris, and Russ White talking about network design. What makes this session really great isn’t that they are giving best practices, great design templates, or even really talk anything about technology. This session is all about teaching you how to think about design. How to look at the big picture. This session is teaching you to fish. Many sessions at Cisco Live (and other technical resources) are about giving you today’s fish, and there’s a place for that, but I’m at a point in my career where I’d much rather learn how to fish and come up with my own designs that are optimized for the needs of my customer instead of fitting nicely into the cookie cutter designs that are taught at the CCDA level. (And don’t forget that your customer can be your boss!)

Don’t forget the Hitchhiker’s Guide to onePK session, that one really helped me grasp what you can do with it. Good stuff!

I’ve also been told that the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Troubleshooting IPv6 was good. I did not attend that one, but I plan to watch the video.

After the videos go up, I may make another post with more recommended sessions. If you have any sessions to recommend, please let me know!


Cisco Live 2013, Day 0

The Official (OK, maybe it's not "official") Cisco Live Pedometer

The Official (OK, maybe it’s not “official”) Cisco Live Pedometer

Official Cisco Pedometer Count

7416 steps, 400kcal burned, and 3.5 miles. No idea how accurate it is, but I’ll be using it all week, so we’ll just roll with it. I obtained this device back in March for the express purpose of getting an idea of how much walking there is to be done at the conference. Today’s number should be the low for the week…

Day 0 Summary

Today was the pre-conference day. I don’t have any tutorials scheduled this year, but wanted to get in a day early to get checked in and take my free exam. There was also a social media reception, a collaboration user group reception, and some general conference recon to do.

Cisco Live 2013 Social Media Hub

Cisco Live 2013 Social Media Hub

After registration, I had some time this morning to visit with the Tweeps this morning and investigate the Social Media Hub. Much better location than in previous years, mainly that it’s not located in the WoS, so it’s much more accessible! Wandered around and found important locations like the Cisco Store and NetVet lounge, the testing center, meals, and to get a feel for the layout so I can find my sessions throughout the week more easily. Struck up a conversation with someone in the NetVet lounge and we had a nice bit of shop talk. He looked me up to follow me on Twitter, only to discover that the reason my name seemed familiar was because he already did. The Internet can be a very small place, indeed.

Next up was my attempt at the CCIE Routing and Switching written exam. I did not pass, but I didn’t really expect to, either. I scored a 692 with a required score of 790 to pass. I think if I had more of the “trivia” memorized, I would have passed. It’s the “what does this bit in the in the header of an IP packet do” kind of questions. It was good to give it a shot and see what the test is like. The test is $350, so using it as my free test that is included with the conference registration was time well spent on recon. Very helpful. I should probably buy the Boson practice test now, since we’ve now confirmed no changes will be happening with the CCIE R&S in the near future. I can register to take another exam for 50% off, so I might take the CCDA exam later this week.

Some attendees talking at the Cisco Live 2013 Tweetup

Some attendees talking at the Cisco Live 2013 Tweetup

After the exam I had a little time to decompress and start investigating the Cisco Live scavenger hunt, which lead directly into the official Tweetup. It was a great event with a couple hundred people (it’s the number I heard thrown out, but it seemed reasonable). It was an opportunity to meet a lot of new people and reconnect with people that I usually only see at Cisco Live. These events are a highlight, primarily because the conversations are so great. Rarely does one get to make jokes about routing protocols and QoS that actually make others laugh, while at the same time sharing our knowledge with each other.

After the Tweetup I went to the Collaboration User Group reception at Universal CityWalk. We had our own reserved area that had a really great dinner buffet. Chatted with a few people, but didn’t stay that long. Headed back to the hotel, talked to my family for a bit, and started writing this post. Now it’s 00:14 of Cisco Live 2013 Day 1. To quote Dr. Sam Beckett, “oh, boy…”