Thursday, June 28, 2012

Cisco Live 2012 Recap

It has been two weeks since Cisco Live and I am finally finding some time to do a write up. The original plan was to write a "daily" blog series on my experience at Cisco Live 2012 in San Diego, CA. Well, as anyone who has attended Cisco Live knows, Cisco's annual networking event has a way of warping space and time. My Cisco Live experience technically was five 24-hour chunks of time more commonly known as "days". In reality, it felt like one, long day. I barely remember going back to the hotel, much less sleeping.

Following Live!, I found myself 460 miles north of San Diego in San Jose, CA. feeding my brain at a CCIE bootcamp. Here I am two weeks after Live! started and I am finally finding some time to blog about the experience. So, instead of a series of short "dailies" I will try to capture the key pillars of my Live! experience.

Cisco Live is Social

When you sign up for Cisco Live you are given a survey and one of the questions revolves around "why are you attending?". As I now have a few of these events under my belt I find that the most important reason is: networking. This year proved, yet again, that the most enjoyable aspect of the Cisco Live experience is getting the opportunity to spend time with my fellow cyber geeks industry professionals.

I had the opportunity to meet some of the folks I interact with in the Cisco Support Forums and on Twitter, as well as people who follow my blogs on the NetCraftsmen site and UC Guerrilla. To top it off I had the most excellent pleasure of meeting bloggers/tweeps that I have been following the past year. Cisco Live is an event that exemplifies the social media phenomena.

Shout out to the Tweeps!

David Yarashus (@dyarashus) is a tweeting fool and he also happens to be the president of my company. David has always told me about the value in actively participating in Twitter (more by example than instruction). However, I avoided Twitter for a while. I used to think that the signal to noise ratio of was just too high to be of much value. 

Recently I have changed my mind and have concluded that it is only noise if the content isn't of interest in the first place. The key is finding who to follow.  I recalled seeing notifications of Tweetups when I was at Cisco Live 2011. A little Google magic and I stumbled across a blog entry from Tom Hollingsworth (@networkingnerd / 

Leading up to Live!, Tom maintained a list of peeps and their Twitter handles (you can find that list right about, >here<). Tom (official owner of "Tom's Corner Deli") took up the task of trying to coordinate the mysterious (to me, anyway) "Tweetups". I applaud Tom's efforts. 

Embarking on my Live! adventure, I was fortunate enough to be on a plane with Mr. Erik Peterson (@ucpappy @ucgod). For those who don't know, Erik is a handy man to have around when flying, believe you me... Erik spotted a TSA "back door" at BWI that saved me about 45 minutes of queue time (*I think I still owe him for that.*) It is hard to spot the elusive Peterson in the wild, but my clever and talented wife was able to capture him on "film" with the two angry birds: David Hailey (@dhailey13) and some goofy guy* that was just trying to hang out with the kool kids.

     *that's me for those joining the party late...and no, Hailey and I are not related

On my first night in San Diego, I found myself in the company of several rock stars: Erik, Mark Snow (@highspeedsnow), Matthew Berry (@ciscovoiceguru), Edwin Gonzalez (@edwinrg00), and the witty and talented Amy Renee (@amyengineer). I have no idea how the conversation de evolved but by the end of the night we were talking about token ring, vampire taps, and that UC app to end all others - Cisco Web Attendant. Matt was kind enough to dig through the archives and post a blog on this app to end all apps. I'd like to thank @ucpappy for bringing up this unfortunate time in the history of Cisco voice applications (and I am sure Mark and I apologize for bringing up uOne!).

At my very first Cisco Live Tweetup I finally got to meet Tom (@networkingnerd), Tony Mattke (@tonhe), Christopher Church (@layer_3), and a boat load of other gurus (sorry if I don't list everyone's name here, it is at this point in the program that the days begin to blur together). There were a few other Tweetups throughout the week. I actually missed a couple since Tweets have the lifetime of a gnat. 

That is a shame, but the good news is I was able to "sneak" (because I neglected to follow protocol) into the Tweetup box (a.k.a. Toms' VIP Corner) at the customer appreciation event. While in the inner sanctum, I was able to meet a few other folks like Patrick Swackhammer (@swackhap) and Josh Atwell (@Josh_Atwell -- check out the beard on that guy ---->).

I was also happy to see some other personalities like Carole Warner Reece (@cwreece - OK, I work with her, but still -- she lives like 700+ miles away from me, so I don't get to see her often), Matt Bynum (@mbynum), and Mike Boscia (@mikeboscia, a video mack daddy). I am not just name dropping here... ok, I am, but not for the sake of name dropping. I do have a point!

What I "discovered" from the Tweetups was that our IT community is truly a "small world". Some of the people I met at Live! are folks I already followed in the blogosphere, seen in forums, etc. and I just didn't make the connection between Tweep and peep.

Cisco Support Community is Live!

The reason I came to Cisco Live was to network, how I got there was the Cisco Support Community (CSC). For the past 3 or so years I have been an active participant in the CSC. Contributing to the support forums is a good way to stay up on the trends, find out what new issues are popping up, and simply help out others. The folks who run the CSC are outstanding people who truly understand what "community" means.

The CSC VIP dinner was a whole lot of fun. The only part I didn't enjoy is seeing the iPad go to someone other than me! I appreciate that the CSC leadership  creates opportunities for the VIPs to meet each other. It is nice to put faces to names. Meeting new VIPs and seeing fellow 2011 VIPs like Martin Ermel and Jonathan Schulenberg (@techjonathan).  

I definitely want to thank Dan, Litsa, Vidhya, and the entire CSC team at Cisco for the efforts they put into fostering a community that promotes such fervent participation. I said it before and I'll say it again: Cisco speaks of the "human network", community, and collaboration. The CSC team is creating a living, breathing example of this brand in action.

The NetCraftsmen Booth Babes

Last but not least, I wanted to touch on another key aspect of my Cisco Live 2012 experience: the NetCraftsmen booth. On Monday, the show officially started and WoS was open to all comers. NetCraftsmen had a booth at Cisco Live this year and whenever we have a booth, I lose complete track of time. 

This year, a lot of people came by the booth to say hi to my partner in crime (Hailey) and myself. Hailey and I both enjoy meeting people who have read our blogs or have found solutions in something we have posted to the Cisco Support Community. Over the course of my career I have accepted help from many, many people. It feels good to give some back.

Thanks for reading. If you have time, post a comment!


  1. Don't let Bill fool you. Him and David are brothers.

    It was great haning out with you guys and all the VIPs at Cisco Live!


    Dan Bruhn
    CSC Community Manager

  2. Is this the event where they had the GIANT Cisco Cake shaped like a router?

  3. Great to see cisco live 2012 THANKS to you for sharing such a wonderful experience