1. Technical break out session
Technical break out session are a 2 to 3 hours session about a technology topic. The presentations are divided in 3 level, introduction, intermediate and expert. They are also divided in different field of interest ie routing and switching, security, collaboration etc.
These session explain the technology, how to deploy and configure it and also how to troubleshoot. The presentation slide are available to download and I strongly recommend that you to bring them at the session so you can take personal notes for future reference.
The presenters are always knowledgeable of the topic presented and always have good to great presentation skill.
2. Meeting directly with Cisco engineer
Let’s face it, it’s not every day that you can whiteboard a problem or validate a design idea with a Cisco engineer face to face. You have this opportunity at Cisco Live with meet the engineer and in the Cisco booth at the World of Solution. You can also ask question to the presenter at the end of a session, if he can’t answer you on the spot, you will be able to get his contact info and hopefully get an answer.
3. Meeting with peer
Cisco Live is also the opportunity to meet with your industry peer that do the same work as you and exchange experience, problem and solution. There are many social events that help break the ice and meet fellow network engineer. I know that I have met a lot of people from my home town at the various Cisco Live that I would not have met otherwise.
4. World of solution
A part from the usual swag grabbing frenzy that come with going to a trade show, there is the opportunity to see demonstration and get information about Cisco’s partner solution, often you will get an evaluation of the product. The only downside is the mail and call you get after the show.
5. The keynotes
Opening keynote with John Chamber, that is always entertaining, informational and let face it, mr Chamber is a good presenter, there is also always a technology demo that is impressive.
Closing keynote with various guest, last year, the guest was William Shatner, this year they will be Adam and Jamie from Mythbusters. Carlos Dominguez the host always find an entertaining way to get the guess to share about their various experience and how they thinks outside the box
6. Being a CCIE and a netvet, the opportunity to meet in a close group with John Chamber
Netvet CCIE and CCDE have a meet “John Chamber happy hour”. This is an opportunity to meet Cisco’s CEO, in a close group of around 100 participant. Mr Chamber will have an open question session where he answer the question asked by the group. He is always joined by top Cisco executive.
I’m always impress and please that Mr Chamber take the time to meet us and how open are the answers from our questions, and believe me they are not always nice comments about their products.
7. Meeting with my Cisco Live buddies and make new one
We exchange on twitter, blogs, LinkedIn and Facebook. We all listened to the same podcast, and we have a chance to meet in person. Over the year, I have met with what I call my Cisco Live buddy. We exchange over twitter during the year but for one week, we finally meet in person and what even better, and I meet new Cisco Live buddies that grows my network. one direct benefit of this. When I have a question about a problem or solution, I know that there is a good chance that I have a Cisco Live buddy that know the answer and then twitter is my best friend.
8. Full week of technical training and learning
I’m a private contractor so I need to stay current on technology and it is not easy to take 2-3 week of training on different technology during a year when you are under contract. For me, Cisco Live is a week of drinking knowledge from the fire hydrant. I can in a week, have sessions on data center, routing and switching, security and collaboration and with the Cisco Live virtual have access to all session and can listened to them during the year.
9. Customers appreciation event
On the Wednesday night, we have the customers appreciation events, this is the party of the week, with a lot to eat and drink, live music and other entertainment. Each year, there is a different theme and we get a funny hat as a souvenir. Last year CAE was great, amazing location, entertainment and a very good feature band.
My 2 cents, do not miss it and schedule a light session on thursday morning.
10. Opportunity to travel across the US and visit new places
As I’m not living in the USA, Cisco Live is an opportunity to visit the host city. This allowed me to visit Anaheim, Orlando, San Francisco, Las Vegas and this year it will be San Diego. I always reserve sometime to take a city tour of the place where Cisco Live is.