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 ciscolive365.com. 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 developer.cisco.com 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…”


Making The Most of Cisco Live 2013 (Updated)

[Note 2: You may want to head to Guide to Cisco Live, which is where I keep the latest version of this post.]

[Note: Recently added is a section on the CAE (a glaring omission, I must say), a tip on having a light jacket for the sessions, and a section on mobile devices power.]

The giant “Cisco Live!” sign

This post is an annual collection of advice on how to get the most out of attending the Cisco Live conference (old hands may still call it Networkers). Some of it is applicable to any training event, but most of it is more specific.

If you have corrections or additional suggestions, please comment so I can keep this information up to date and accurate. I’d like this to be a resource for everyone.


Plan to get to the conference city no later than mid-afternoon the day before the conference starts. That way even if you have a delayed flight, you should get there before too late in the evening.  Even if you can’t check in until 3PM you can always drop your luggage off at the hotel and wander around. The idea is to make sure you get there early enough to get a decent night’s sleep. Don’t forget to pack a good pair of walking shoes because you’re going to be doing a lot of walking. This convention center is huge!

Orange County Convention Center North/South Building – Very pretty, but not the building Cisco Live 2013 will be in, unfortunately. We will be in the West Building.


Personally, I plan to stay at Spring Hill Suites. It’s a pleasant 10 minute walk from the Orange County Convention Center, where this year’s conference is being held. In case of afternoon thundershowers (which are almost a daily occurrence), or if you are just plain tired, the conference is running a bus. This gives you options. I think it’s the closest hotel, anyway, and it’s one of the least expensive. I’ve been there several times for conferences held at the OCCC, and have been happy with it.

Session Signup

Cisco Live is the only conference I’ve been to where you need to sign up for your breakout sessions before you go. You may have attended other conferences where you can wander in & out of sessions if one turns out to be uninteresting or you have a sudden change of heart about which you want to attend. Cisco Live is different. The purpose of signing up before hand is not just to be a helpful schedule, but you need to sign up beforehand because it’s your reserved seat for the session. This is primarily important for the most popular sessions, but you don’t want to be stuck waiting outside of a session you really want!

Here’s how it works: at the doors for every session will be attendants with a computer and a scanner. They’ll scan your badge as you enter and you’ll see a green or red light on the screen. If you are registered for the session, you’ll get the green light and you’re good to go. If you aren’t registered or are on the waiting list, you have to wait. If it’s not full, you will get the opportunity to enter. I’m not sure how long they wait before letting you in, as I’ve not yet had to wait, but I’ve seen others waiting.

Badge Pickup at Cisco Live

NetVets are conference attendees that have been to 3 of the last 5 Networkers. NetVets are given the opportunity to sign up for their sessions a week before everyone else. This is done because many sessions repeat from year to year and you may not have been able to get into a popular session in the past. This gives repeat attenders an opportunity to sign up for sessions they haven’t been able to get into. NetVets also get some extra benefits; even more if they are a CCIE or CCDE.

When the session catalog opens up on the registration website, I suggest you get in as soon as possible to schedule the sessions you care about most. You can always go back later to change sessions. When I first went to Cisco Live, I wanted to sign up for all kinds of interesting sessions. After a while I realized that despite there being 4 days of sessions, you can only squeeze so much into your schedule and had to prioritize the topics that were most important. I also recommend you leave some room in your schedule for the World of Solutions Expo, but more on that later.

Bonus Features

Don’t forget to sign up for your free certification exam, and don’t forget to schedule your sessions around it. Personally, I recommend doing it first thing in the morning so you are fresh. Eat some fruit for breakfast that morning. Save the carbs for later.

Also, don’t forget about Cisco Live 365. This site has all the PDFs and many recordings of sessions from the last several years of Cisco Live, including international Cisco Live conferences. Some of the sessions recommend you have attended another session as a prerequisite. You can view some of these virtually (or at least browse the PDF) before the conference. Sometimes, you can look through the PDFs of sessions you are thinking of attending to decide if you actually want to. This is an excellent resource. Even if you don’t go to the conference, you should be using it. I’ve written about it before here.

To be Early is to be on Time

Whenever possible, try to get to your sessions early. Getting there late only to find there is nowhere to sit is a bummer. Don’t be afraid to sit in the front, especially if you are late. There are often open seats in the front and in the middle of rows while the back and all the edges are packed. Be prepared for a good speaker to make light of you and the others that are arriving late, at least during the first few minutes. They may even invite you to sit in front. Go with a smile. There’s always late people, especially in the morning sessions, you won’t be the only one.

Of course, being in the front can backfire if you decide you want to leave. You can feel very conspicuous if you get up and leave. That said, do you pay any attention to other people leaving? Just do it quietly and don’t waste your time in a session that’s not what you need.

Stay on Task

Why are you or your employer paying for you to attend the conference? Obviously, it’s so you can spend all day “networking” on Twitter/Facebook/IRC (some people still use it, really! Check out #packetpushers on Freenode.) OK, maybe it’s not. That’s not to say that the proverbial hallway track and social media aren’t valuable. They definitely are. In fact, I recommend following the hashtag #clus on twitter. However, while you are in the midst of the Nexus Multicast Design Best Practices session is probably not the ideal time to be watching your Twitter feed. Otherwise, you’ll hear something you really care about, come out of the distraction, and realize you’ve missed it. At least, that’s the way it goes with me, so that’s the suggestion I make.

Another thing to avoid is the temptation to look up that new feature you just learned about, or even remote into your favorite networking device to see if it supports the new bell and/or whistle. Save it for later!

Also, it’s easier to stay on task if you are comfortable. If heavily air conditioned spaces feel cold to you, you may want to bring a light jacket. I’m from the Seattle area, so these spaces are perfectly comfortable to me, but I know plenty of people who think the sessions are a little chilly.

World of Solutions Expo

This is the trade show. It’s big. You can definitely spend some time here learning about new

World of Solutions Expo

products, talking to vendors, and picking the brains of Cisco TAC engineers. I have found all kinds of useful vendors at the WoS that I previously had no idea existed. You can ask Cisco people, both technical and non-technical, those tough questions you have saved up. There’s a special section of the show just for asking TAC people that question that’s been bugging you, or that you thought of because of a session you attended.

Yes, there’s the various tchotchkes and receptions with food and beverage, but it really is a great place to make contacts. If you want to have a real conversation with any of the vendors, don’t count on doing it during a reception. It’s just too busy. Devote a breakout session to the expo. There will be a lot less people in the hall and you can actually have a real conversation with the vendors. If you want a tchotchkes, usually you have to get your badge scanned. You’ll get a call from them in a few months. Sometimes they want you to sit down and listen to a spiel. Make sure it’s worth your time. If you haven’t been to one of these before, you may be tempted to get all kinds of free t-shirts and junk. Don’t forget you have to get all that stuff home. :)

“Scotty, I need more power!”

Most of us are heavy users of mobile devices. While you are attending Cisco Live you will probably spend a lot of time using your smartphone, tablet, and/or laptop. Most sessions will have a place for you to plug in to power or charge your devices. If you want to use these plugs, remember “to be early is to be on time…” The days are very long. I typically will start out by heading to breakfast around 7:30 and will get back to the hotel after dinner and conversation. Probably about 21:00 every night. More like 23:00-0:00 on the night of the CAE (see below). This is a long day for your devices, let alone you. Having some sort of portable charger (such as the New Trent products mentioned in the comments) for your phone is really nice, especially if you are using it for social networking and pictures.


The Customer Appreciation Event, but referred to as the CAE (pronounced “see ay ee”, not “kay”). This is a giant social gathering for all the attendees. A large venue is filled with food and music. It’s a great time to relax and just socialize with people you’ve met at Cisco Live. This year we will be at Universal Studios Flordia and besides the rides, we will have Journey and Pretty Lights to entertain us. You can buy a pass for your spouse or SO to accompany you. Sorry, no kids; CAE attendees must be 21. I don’t think you’ll need that light jacket for this. It should be plenty warm, and if it rains they will hand out nifty transparent ponchos with a universal logo on them.


So that’s my advice for getting the most out of Cisco Live. It’s a great place to learn, network, and get questions answered. You’ll meet people from all types of environments, some will even be similar to yours. You can find out how they do things in their shop or how they solved the same problems you’ve been trying to solve. Sometimes you’ll just share war stories, which can be therapeutic, too. I find the sessions useful, but the conversations and people you meet can be just as useful, if not more, than the sessions you attend.



Cisco Live 2013 Guest Speaker

Sir Richard Branson

Sir Richard Branson

Looks like the guest speaker at Cisco Live 2013 will be business magnate Sir Richard Branson. He is the founder and chairman of the Virgin Group. You probably haven’t heard of most of the companies, but I suspect Virgin Mobile, Virgin America and Virgin Airways are most likely to be familiar to you. This might be most interesting to those in the IT Management Program at Cisco Live.

However, for myself, I find Virgin Galactic to the most interesting company he’s involved with. Their plan is to provide flights into space using spacecraft designed and built by The Spaceship Company, which itself is a joint venture between Virgin and Scaled Composites. This is the group won the Ansari X-Prize to build a craft that could fly three people into space twice in two weeks.

SpaceShipOne hanging in the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum. This is the craft that won the Ansari X-Prize.

They’re working to fulfill something of the dream of the Pan Am flights to a space station that were illustrated in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Sir Richard Branson has also made several attempts to break world records, mostly trying to cross the Atlantic in record time in either a boat or balloon. He also tried to circumvent the globe in a balloon with 2 other adventurers.

I’m sure he’ll make an interesting guest and talk about some of the crazy things he has done. I can’t help but think of him as something of a modern version of Howard Hughes.


Cisco Live 365 (Formerly Cisco Live Virtual)

[Note: Cisco recently refreshed this site and it is now Cisco Live 365, but overall this is still essentially accurate.]

Cisco Live Virtual

Cisco Live Virtual

Cisco Live Virtual

If you aren’t leveraging Cisco Live Virtual, you’re missing out on a useful resource. The real feature of Cisco Live Virtual is the Session Catalog. There are PDFs of all (or at least most) Cisco Live sessions for the last several years and videos of many of the presentations are also available. This includes sessions from international Cisco Live shows, as well. Besides being useful all year long, it’s helpful when setting up your Cisco Live session schedule. Oh, and did I mention that it’s free, even if you aren’t going to Cisco Live?

One of the tools the Cisco Live (non-virtual) session catalog gives you is letting you know how much of a given presentation is new this year. If it’s 0-25%, there’s not much difference from last year. You can go read through last year’s PDF and decide if it’s worth attending that session, or if another would be more valuable to you. Perhaps you may find a session that has a video, then you could watch the video of the session, which will free your time for yet another session. Even if there’s significant new content for 2012, you might find a recording of the session from Cisco Live London or Melbourne, both of which happened within the last month or two, and those will have most of the updated content.

Somewhere around a week before Cisco Live, PDFs should go up for this year’s sessions. You can double check the content of your scheduled sessions to be sure you’ll actually be getting what you need out of them. Sometimes it’s also nice to have a local copy of the PDF when following along with the presenter, too.

This year, I’m making space for additional sessions at this year’s Cisco Live by watching some sessions on Cisco Live Virtual. Here’s a couple example sessions I’m watching this week to help make my week at Cisco Live San Diego more effective:

BRKEWN-2016: Architecturing Network for Branch Offices with Cisco Wireless – Very nice recording of the presentation from Cisco Live London in February. Includes the new FlexConnect stuff.

BRKCRS-3145: Troubleshooting Cisco Nexus 5000 / 2000 Series Switches – 2011 audio only recording with slides, but not much changed for this year, so the content is still good.

I have several others saved in my CLV “briefcase” that I will try to watch soon.

Throughout the year I will occasionally search CLV for a technology I need to learn more about and around half the time there is a useful PDF. About 25% of the time there is a session recording available. The rest of the time I have to go elsewhere, but it’s really nice to get something useful 75% of the time.


My Cisco Live 2012 Schedule (now with commentary!)

Cisco Live 2012 ScheduleUpdate 20120531:

Here is my (no longer tentative) Cisco Live 2012 schedule. I’ll try to keep it updated if it changes. Let me know if you’re in these, too. I’ve added (sometimes snarky) comments as to why I’ve chosen each session. Shuffled some stuff around and replaced sessions based on schedule, work priorities, and information from conference PDFs.






Cisco Exam
It’s free, why wouldn’t you take one?
TECUCC-2500 Enterprise Call Routing and Dial Plan for Unified Communications
We deployed a UC system earlier this year, and I’ve been told I should try to understand it…



BRKDCT-2048 Deploying Virtual Port Channel in NXOS
You might not think vPC is worth a whole session, but after looking at the
slide deck from 2011, it clearly is.
BRKEWN-2017 Understanding RF Fundamentals and the Radio Design of Wireless Networks
Based on last year’s slides, it looks useful for someone who doesn’t do
wireless every day. 
GENSK-4356 Solutions Keynote: The Future of the Enterprise Network in the Post-PC Era
Post-PC/BYOD: It’s all the rage with the kids these days.
BRKARC-3466 Exploring the engineering behind the making of a switch
This looks like a new session and the description promises an interesting
look into the development process.



BRKDCT-2218 Data Center Design for the Small and Medium Business
Hope to get some clues on doing this better!
GENKEY-4346 Keynote and Welcome Address
Quality time with Uncle John.
CUG-1004 Cisco Jabber Clients and Conferencing Product Direction
Don’t want to deploy CUPC, but Jabber for Windows is a little wonky. Hopefully
this will help me figure out where we are going here, and when. 
Time to Talk to WoS Vendors
If you want any chance of finding anything useful at the Expo (I guarantee
something you need is there, you just have to find it), you have to schedule
some time for it. You won’t get any useful time with a vendor at a reception.
BRKNMS-3021 Advanced Cisco IOS Device Instrumentation
Joe Clarke on making IOS devices do cool stuff you didn’t know they could do.



BRKEWN-3014 Best practices to deploy high-availability in Wireless LAN Architectures
Wireless is one of my focusses this year and this looks useful.
GENKEY-4347 Cisco Technology Keynote
Quality time with @Padmasree.
BRKSEC-2003 IPv6 Security Threats and Mitigations
No one is there, so it’s safe on v6, right? Not so much.
More Time for WoS Vendors
Realistically, 2h total time set aside for the WoS isn’t enough. There will
likely be a session that isn’t quite what I was looking for and that one
will provide a bit more time with WoS.
BRKVIR-2017 The Nexus 1000V on Microsoft Hyper-V
We are a Hyper-V shop, so this new shiny is of great interest to me!



BRKCRS-4381 Smart Operations – Power Tools for Catalyst switching network operations
Work smarter, not harder. Nifty looking stuff in here. I need it.
BRKSEC-2022 Demystifying TrustSec, Identity, NAC and ISE
So yeah, how exactly do these bits come together?
BRKEWN-2018 RF Standards Update
Good to have some idea what the future holds.
BRKNMS-1035 The NOC at CiscoLive
Last year this was a pretty interesting talk. I see no reason it shouldn’t be
this year, too.