Taking the Old Approach to Cisco Live 2014

I was just reading through Bob’s blog post from today and wanted to give a rebuttal of sorts.  In his post, Bob tells us that’s he’s going to be at Cisco Live US in San Francisco this year but he won’t be coming on the Full Conference pass like he usually does.  He’s going with the Social Event pass this year, which is actually a great, great way to attend.  I know several people who are thinking about scaling back to the Social Event pass as well, and there’s nothing wrong with doing it like that.  There are some things that it doesn’t get you, though.

The Social Event pass means no breakout sessions.  These are the bread-and-butter of the conference and the real technical reason that I try to go each year (listen to me talk like I’m a 20-year NetVet…LOL).  Yes, most of the sessions are available on Cisco Live 365 afterwards, but that leaves two problems for me.  First of all, I will never actually make the time to go back and sit through these sessions after the event.  It’s just something that won’t happen with life and work and everything going on.  Secondly, I cannot sit through video of any significant length at all.  I doze off, look for squirrels, doodle on the desk…anything but pay attention.  The only way I can really absorb is by sitting in the class with the presenter in person.  I’m just not wired to listen and learn through media.

The Social Event pass doesn’t include an exam.  I take the CCIE R&S Written exam every year and usually fail it.  If I’m having problems with a specific topic, I have about 8472848 experts sitting next to me in the one of the lounges ready to help when they can.  It’s a great way to strengthen your weak topics (see QoS and multicast for me) and get some guidance on how to pass these infernal tests!

Only the full conference passes give you credit towards NetVet status.  NetVets get special recognition from Cisco for their attendance by way of admission to the NetVet Lounge with snacks and drinks, a free e-Book from Cisco Press, and a special badge showing your status.  NetVets with a CCIE get to shake hands with Uncle John, have priority seating for the keynote, and get a fancy pin.  This is all just stuff, though; the prestige is the important part.

I gave six reasons to go to Cisco Live in a previous post; only one of them is not covered by the Social Event pass.  What does that tell you about what makes this conference great?  If you’re thinking about saving $2000 this year by getting a Social Event pass, go for it, but realize there are some things you may be missing.

Send any trips to Haight-Ashbury questions my way.