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!


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