It’s been a tough week since I left Las Vegas. I must say that my Cisco Live withdrawal has been pretty bad, and with the week we’ve been having here in Indiana, I’m certainly missing the low humidity. (Yesterday’s heat index topped 121F) As for the conference, I wanted to give a quick rundown of my experience as this was my very first Cisco Live, but first, I wanted to take a second to say that of all the conferences I’ve been to Cisco LIve 2011 was an absolute home run… 15,000 engineers, top notch session, a great event staff, and some wonderful planning from Leslie and the rest of the Cisco Live team!
I left Chicago in the morning, arriving in Vegas a bit early… unfortunately too early to check in. (I booked my flight before seeing a schedule for CL, only the dates July 9-14) After leaving my bags with the bell hop, I went in search of some food. This is where I made my first mistake. When in Vegas, avoid the convenient shops and cafe’s run by the hotel. I ended up paying $25 for a nasty sandwich, a croissant, and a Gateraide. Later in the week I discovered the House of Blues which is open for all 3 meals, and is much cheaper, and so much better than the buffet, or any other place around. ProTip: Do some research on food locations before leaving! Friday night I also met my first twerp Teren Bryson, and his wife for a drink at a bar. Little did I know at the time we’d be hanging out a lot this week!
I woke up at 3:30am ready to go…. Yay! As we were getting around I saw some messages on twitter… several people were boarding flights! That afternoon I met up with Jay Franklin, we went down to registration and ended up catching a cab to the infamous In-and-Out Burger! I must say it was amazing. I could really go for an Animal Style Double Double right now! That night my fiance Jessi and I had an awesome time at our first Vegas show, Cirque de Soleil’s Mystere. At some point in time Teren managed to talk me into taking my CCIE written exam, which I booked for Monday afternoon.
Honestly, I don’t remember too much about Sunday. Jessi and I walked up the strip to the Bellagio. I must say even so the walk was killing my feet it was worth it! The water show was great, and we saw so many interesting things on the way there and back.ProTip: Super comfy shoes are a MUST! I also managed to meet up with Tom Hollingsworth who invited me to record my first appearance on the Packet Pushers Podcast! I must say right now, thank you Tom, and thank you Greg for having me, I had a great time! That evening Jessi and I saw Penn & Teller at Rio, they were a blast! We even got to stay afterwords to meet them, get photos and autographs.
Since I had already registered (luckily, as the line was HUGE on Monday) on Saturday, I headed down for breakfast around 7:20am, unfortunately my internal clock was still on EDT so I woke up around 5:30am — still an improvement from the weekend. My first session was at 8am, Advanced Cisco IOS Device Instrumentation, aka how to automate administration tasks and make your life easier. This session was great, but it made me realize a mistake in my scheduling. If this session was considered advanced, I was in trouble… Some of my sessions were bound to be far too basic. Luckily I was able to sneak into some other sessions that kept me far more entertained. After leaving my afternoon session early I headed to the Pearson Vue testing area to take my CCIE R&S Written…. which I managed to fail. Mind you, I had not studied for it, and missed out by just 18 points. That evening, possibly due to my exam results, I started on a downward spiral of inhibition. First, the Word of Solutions opened, which of course had free beer. Then, it was dinner and drinks with Jessi before we headed off to the party at Mon Ami Gabi in Paris hosted by Stephen Foskett and Jennifer Huber, and of course the after party at Ri Ra (an Irish Tavern) where Brandon Carroll and I tried to get everyone hammered. ProTip: Drinking in Vegas is EXPENSIVE.
My first class on Tuesday was on LISP, to my surprise this was a LARGE class. Probably close to 1,000 engineers there. (If you’re new to LISP, check out Jeff’s blog) Afterwards, I headed to the area outside of registration, which we had lovingly started to refer to as Tom’s Corner… From there a large group of twerps migrated into the first Keynote given by Uncle John (John Chambers). If you missed it, you can catch it on UStream. The rest of the day was pretty mild in comparison to the rest of the week…. Except for a very interesting turn of events at the Cisco Certification Lounge inside of the World of Solutions. You can read more about Tom and Marko’s tramp stamps here.
Wednesday was a blur, the session of the day had to be Ron Fuller’s vDC Design and Implementation. Honey Badger. That is all I have to say. — That evening was Cisco’s Customer Appreciation Event. That afternoon we had joked about showing up like the rock star’s we were and taking a Limo. Well, lets just say Teren Bryson +1, Brandon Carroll +1, Jay Franklin, Ryan Adzima, Hugo Sanchez, Chris Jones, and I all managed to ride in style :) The CAE was amazing, huge props to Leslie Hasvold for pulling it off! They had live music, Ok Go and Train playing with Pete Wentz DJing throughout the evening. There was great food, and tons of awesome activities including life sized rock-em sock-em robots (still waiting for the videos of that to come out), slot cars, black light miniature golf, Rock Band, karaoke, pool tables, and so much more. Even the NetVets said it was the best CAE ever!
By Thursday everyone was realizing our time was short. The Shatner keynote was classic, although I would’ve preferred to see Jamie and Adam from Mythbusters talk. The sessions were just as great, props to Shannon McFarland,
for his IPv6 session, A+ stuff. My Layer 3 NX-OS session was also great. That afternoon the WoS closed, I didn’t win the Fluke Optiview, but I got a great WAN’s World hat from Jodi at the Solarwinds booth… Around noon there was a impromptu tweetup to take a photo in front of the Cisco Live sign that I missed…. sorry guys, 10 minutes isn’t enough notice!! Later that evening Jessi and I went out for dinner, said our goodbye’s to Vegas from the top of the Eiffel tower in Paris, once I got home I headed out to Ri Ra to meet up with an assorted bunch of tweeps. Leaving that room was one of the hardest things I’ve done in a long time. I knew it was over, but I never wanted it to end.
Cisco Live was absolutely epic. Before it was over I had already told my boss I can’t wait to come back for 2012 in San Diego. From drinking from the fire hose in the technical sessions, to networking with some of the best and brightest people in the industry, Cisco Live is well worth the price of admission and so much more. I wanted to give a quick shout out, in no particular order, to all the twerps I can currently remember meeting, if I missed you, I’m sorry, let me know. Thank you, each and every one of you. It was an honor to meet you, and I’m so happy to be able to call each and every one of you friends.
Andrew von Nagy
Network engineer turned management currently servicing the enterprise data center market. I started working on networks in the ’90s and still feel like that was just a few years ago. Jack of all trades, master of none; I love to learn about everything. Feel free to ask me about photography, woodworking, nhra, watches, or even networking! — For feedback, please leave a comment on the article in question, and I’ll respond as soon as I can. For everything else including fan mail or death threats, contact me via twitter.