Cisco Live Breakouts – Beyond the Marketing

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Tech conferences are something that both vendors and employees in the tech industry LOVE. I have been to conferences before where the presentations talk about a vendor’s technology, the features that it has and that’s it. The problem is with these types of conferences is that they almost try to “sell” their technology to a higher level employee such as a CTO. They are not speaking to the engineers and technicians that will use the technology every day. Cisco Live breakouts handle this differently.

Keynotes and Breakouts

Cisco Live is obviously a conference to promote Cisco products and technologies that are being developed and marketed. Nobody is questioning that. Keynotes will bring the hype and get people excited about new technologies. Cisco always puts on a show and #CLUS 2017 was no different with their keynote on the Intuitive Network. The difference is the fact that the entire conference isn’t all about marketing new products and services. For instance, look at the image above. This is from a session that I took that focused on the protocol BGP. That was a session geared towards the engineers working in the field. There wasn’t a single mention of a product to purchase at any time during this session. That is the great thing about these breakout sessions. The focus is on developing engineers and learning in general. That way, we as the engineers, will be prepared to work with the new products and technologies on the market. That’s the link between the two.

Our Way or Your Way

When I think of development and training from a vendor, a lot of the time the training from the vendor is the “our way” type of training. They want you to be able to configure their equipment in the way they intended. They will come out and list the features (X,Y, and Z) of their technology and the training will tech you how to configure those explicit features. Cisco has had a large push over the last couple of years on training engineers to use Cisco technologies in ways that cater specifically to their network. It has started a movement of customization. Cisco Live breakouts assist in this movement.

Here’s an example: In the past, new devices on the market were sold in a way where features were listed as to what the device was capable of and users would purchase a device that had the features they needed. With the software driven network initiative recently that Cisco has embraced, the new idea is that Cisco products are the tools and users are enabled (and encouraged) to use those tools to write scripts and use automation to meet the specific needs of their network. Cisco DevNet is a prime example of this. It’s the focus on the personalization of the network.

Back to Breakouts

If you are curious about more of how these breakouts can help you, take a look here at the official CiscoLive.com page that lists the sessions: https://www.ciscolive.com/us/learn/sessions/session-catalog/. You are going to quickly see what I have been talking about. The marketing aspect of Cisco Live is left to the keynotes and World of Solutions conference floor, where I think it fits well. The breakout sessions focus on training and development as I’ve mentioned.

Plan of Attack

Because the Cisco Live breakouts and keynotes are different in the type of information they are trying to relay, you need a plan of attack for your week at Cisco Live. For instance, I personally skipped a keynote during the week to try to attend another breakout. I knew the keynote would be recorded and I wanted to make sure to make the breakout session in person (even though most of those are recorded too). With the session scheduler open online well be the week of Cisco Live, you’ll definitely have time to do your planning.

 

With all that being said, make sure you are setting a good chunk of your week aside for some of these Cisco Live breakouts. If they are full, be sure to get on the waitlist for the ones that appeal to you. The caliber of the trainers is outstanding and you for sure do not want to miss out on these live training opportunities.

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