Why Cisco Live Each Year?

We all know what Cisco Live is, right?  Networkers?  The Cisco users’ conference?  If not, then educate yourself, friend.  It takes place every year in different parts of the world.  I try my best to go every year to the US event and am lucky to be able to go this year.  It costs a bagillion dollars and a week of my time; why am I so excited about going?  Easy answers in no particular order.

  • World of Solutions :  This is the big expo where all the vendors set up their booths to show their wares.  Besides getting cool swag in exchange for a bunch of marketing, it’s a great place to find a real solution for the real problems you may have.  Just last year, I found solutions for a least 4 different problems I was having.  Thanks to stopping by a few booths and talking to the vendors, I was able to justify the cost to my boss.  Win for everyone.
  • Breakout Sessions : These are the bread and butter of the event.  We all pick a bunch of classes to take and sit down for an hour or two to a lecture on a topic of our choosing.  The sessions range from introductory to super-advanced and fall across all markets.  Want to run LISP in your enterprise?  How about learning about the different VPN technologies?  Some IPv6 stuff?  There’s a session for pretty much anything you need.
  • Meet the Engineer / Technical Clinics : These are two separate programs that do practically the same thing.  The Meet the Engineer (part of the Meet the Expert curriculum) is a program where you schedule face-to-face time with a Cisco subject matter expert.  Last year, I was able to schedule an hour with Magnus Mortensen to discuss managing configurations on dozens of firewalls centrally.  The Technical Clinics are very informal talks with subject matter experts in front of a whiteboard in an open area.  You get people wandering by listening and contributing to your problem…maybe even the solution.  It’s a great program that I’m planning on using more this year. 
  • Personal Networking : I don’t need to explain why knowing people is important, do I?  A whole bunch of big whigs will be at Cisco Live, and it’s always a good thing to shake hands with them.  I wouldn’t expect John Chambers to give a rat’s ass that he met you, but I imagine someone like Tom Hollingsworth would.  By shaking Tom’s hand, you now know someone who almost literally knows everybody else in the world.  This is a good thing.
  • Comradery : With little to no exception, the people you meet at Cisco Live are fantastic.  Everyone happy, and there’s no hate.  It’s like our own little hippy commune.  If you throw in familiarity from Twitter, you have the makings of some great friendships.  Let me stop before I start to sound like an After School Special.  Hell, even Chris is friendly in person.
  • Travel : I don’t travel very much for work.  When I do travel for fun, it’s usually some place local and rural.  Going to Cisco Live gives me a chance and excuse to go to a big city and take it in a bit.  Mind you, my wife gets more of this benefit than I do since she has her days free.

Send any excuses for not blogging for months questions my way.