Cisco Live! 2018 in Orlando is over. We’re back home, the dogs have been picked up from the hotel, and now it’s the weekend before returning to work. Before too much time passes, I thought I’d write about my experience this year.
This year, I focused my sessions on security and programmability. All the sessions I attended were excellent; I can’t say enough about the speakers and the talent they possess. I started the week off with an 8-hour CCIE Security techtorial, which was a review of some possible lab exam topics and scenarios. Although it was a review, I learned a great deal about the Email Security Appliance and Web Security Appliance order-of-operations and some configuration guidelines. Will definitely have to do more home labs to play with the nerd knobs in each of these. There were many other topics covered, but the ESA and WSA were of particular interest due to my lack of experience in either technology.
The week continued with sessions in Catalyst switch programmability (which I unfortunately had to leave early), FirePower best practices, Policy-driven hybrid cloud datacenter architecture, and TrustSec (apparently now re-branded as “Group-Based Policies). There are almost too many sessions available to attend, which is a good thing! The hardest part of #CLUS every year is finding room in my schedule to attend all the sessions I find interesting.
For me, this year was a bit different. I have finally started to feel “at ease” with being in the midst of some of the most talented minds in the networking industry. Part of this was due to it being my 5th consecutive conference… but part of it was also due to becoming more active on social media (namely Twitter) as well as listening to podcasts such as The Network Collective. I felt like I was starting to learn and become more of the community – this is a natural part of growing my personal network, I presume… and it made me think back to my first Cisco Live in San Francisco (2014) where I knew _nobody_. Every year, the experience gets better!
The best CLUS investment this year was the “Imagine Pass.” The past two years, my wife has joined me on the Social Events pass, which would get her in to the receptions and the parties. This year, the new Imagine Pass allowed her to actually participate in keynotes as well as sessions dedicated to leadership and equality. She was able to attend presentations in the “Big Ideas Theater,” listen to accomplished leaders, and even receive signed books by those same presenters… not to mention the fact that we were able to enjoy meals together, schedule permitting! It was much more of a Cisco Live experience for her than just being able to attend parties. Well worth the additional cost, in my opinion.
I was also fortunate that my friend Jerome made it to his first CLUS event. We met at a Micronics Training CCIE bootcamp by the one and only Narbik Kocharians back in 2016, and have kept in touch on-and-off since then. When he followed me on Twitter and told me he would be here this year, it was great news! We met for a great dinner in Orlando on Sunday and a few other times during the conference. I was very thankful he could make it – we shared stories and I was able to learn more about what life is like in his hometown in Switzerland.
The only negative experience I had this year was due to a dental problem. On Monday, I was having some tooth pain from what I assumed to be a piece of food stuck between my molars. By Tuesday, the pain was so severe that I went to see a local dentist which took X-Rays and informed me that a root canal performed 5-6 years earlier was done incorrectly and was now infected inside my jaw. I was prescribed antibiotics and painkillers, and this seriously affected my technical insight and motivation at the conference. Instead of focusing on the great material and resources at hand, I could only focus on my pain. My goal for the next year is to get to the dentist on a regular basis (after my scheduled appointment in 3 days to have the root canal re-done) in order to ensure that there is no possibility of a bad tooth ruining my experience.
There are so many more experiences I could write about – the CCIE Party, Customer Appreciation Event, World of Solutions, DevNet – that it would take me all night to do so. Perhaps I’ll write another post about these experiences in the near future, when I need a boost from the day-in, day-out routine. In the meantime, I hope that everyone was able to enjoy #CLUS 2018, and look forward to seeing you all in San Diego in 2019!