This will be my fourth consecutive year attending Networkers @ Cisco Live. That qualifies me as a NetVet, which I always figured was a way of identifying employees of companies that receive too many Cisco Learning Credits. Now that I've been recognized, I see that it is a badge of honor for dedicated network learners, or something like that! :)
How and why have I attended Cisco Live for four straight years? When I decided to go to Cisco Live 2007, I hadn't been to formal Cisco training in six years. I had last attended Networkers (Orlando) in 2000, and frankly I didn't feel like I got much out of the experience. Most of it was my fault, as I brought my wife and two year old son with me. I had also attended the year before in New Orleans, and several of my seminars repeated material. Cisco Live Anaheim in 2007 was a great experience for me. I reconnected with many former colleagues and built new relationships with Cisco enthusiasts. When I saw that Cisco Live 2008 would be in Orlando, I decided to attend that one as well. Orlando is my adopted summer home, so the travel costs were negligible. Two colleagues from my employer attended as well, which added an additional team-building component to the experience. We also were able to use Cisco Learning Credits from a major network upgrade purchase to keep our training costs down.
I had no plans to attend Cisco Live in 2009. Two of my direct reports were scheduled to attend the San Francisco event. My intention was to take a hands-on Nexus 5000/7000 class to prepare for a new Data Center deployment. One of my other team members took the Nexus course in the spring of 2009 and reported that the experience was less than ideal. So I shifted gears and applied my CLCs to Cisco Live 2009, with the added component of two hands-on Nexus Labs (Hands on Nexus 7000 and a VPC lab). I also chose a number of Nexus-based Breakout sessions. By focusing on a specific technology area I was able to sidestep the seminars I had attended over the previous years.
This year I’ll be focusing on the topics of Data Center LAN Extension and IPv6. To this end I registered for an Overlay Transport Virtualization (OTV) Lab and a number of Data Center and IPv6 breakout sessions. Two members of my team are also attending, along with my manager and another co-worker.
How do I get value out of repeat visits to Cisco Live?
- Attend with co-workers – I derive a lot of value from meal times, visits to the World of Solutions and attending breakout sessions with my team members. Last year we had a Meet the Engineer session about Performance Routing that was extremely helpful as well. My team is distributed among three company offices, and I work from home, so face time with co-workers is very valuable.
- Don’t attend the same sessions – This might seem obvious, but it needs to be said. The sessions will not change considerably from year to year, so even if you love BGP, pick something else to concentrate on. You WILL get bored by the first 75% of any presentation, even the ‘Advances in BGP’ session. If you absolutely need to know the latest in BGP, write yourself a note to watch the session on Cisco Live Virtual once it is posted.
- Visit the World Of S0lutions – The WoS does change from year to year. I’m not much of a fan of the trinkets, but I do like visiting booths to see what is new in the field. I’ll usually grab a couple of items for souvenirs for the kids.
- Take a Certification Test – It’s free, so it would be a waste not to take advantage of this benefit. I generally take an exam that will recertify me. This year I’ll be retaking the CCDE Written exam. Wish me luck :)
I’ll post my schedule once I have a finalized version. I generally change my plans repeatedly as I learn more about the sessions. The one must-see breakout for me is BRKRST-3500, Designing Multipoint WAN QoS. It’s a tricky issue, and I’m very curious to see how the problem is solved. I also know the presenter, so I know it’ll be a good session.