Saturday, August 06, 2011

Cisco Live! 2011

About a month ago I decided to go to Cisco Live 2011 in Las Vegas. I wasn't sure what to expect going into it, but it was..... an experience! Cisco is an amazing company and their annual user and partner event holds nothing back. Networking geeks abound at the Mandalay Bay and there were live DJ's, an incredible user appreciation event/concert and rock-star style keynotes from CEO John Chambers and CTO Padmasree Warrior.

I attended the event as Press. I love network technologies, but my focus is on the data center.... and most of the deep-dive technical stuff for networking is over my head anyway. I was mostly going as an enthusiast who has used and followed Cisco for a number of years. The Cisco team in charge of press relations did a wonderful job, and I'm only partially saying that because of the open bar that started things off on Monday night. :) It was a well coordinated event and full of news, events and chances to talk with Cisco execs. I had the pleasure of talking with Soni Jiandani, Senior Vice President Server Access and Virtualization Technology Group. Just read her title -- pretty fun group to be in charge of with everything going on in UCS and cloud orchestration lately. She was very passionate about Cisco's abilities and had a lot of case study information to share about how their products were being used to build some very resilient and scalable infrastructures. My only question to Soni concerned the opportunity they had with their recently opened Allen, Texas facility - and she confirmed that it was an excellent case to use all Cisco gear in the data center and that they had seen an approximate 60% savings there.

As I said, I attended as press, so here were my stories about the event:

There was one more post I was pretty happy to do -- and besides the opportunity to see John Chambers and Padmasree Warrior in person -- was the real incentive for going to Vegas. On Wednesday of that week Cisco was gracious enough to take us on a tour of the SuperNAP!! Somewhat needless to say, it was amazing. The Cisco showcase at the facility was for their own equipment that helped run much of the SuperNAP's network, as well as Global Cash Access, who processes most of the ATM transactions in Vegas and other businesses around the world.

Jason from Switch was kind enough to answer the first dozen questions on my endless list, and I would love to share photos, customers they have, or future expansion plans (i.e.: Wisconsin or east coast), but all of these requests were of course denied. Others have written that security was extra tight or too extreme, but I would say it was perfect - given that it is a data center, and that they house several important government contracts that most likely dictate some of the security extremes. If I could fit security Humvee's into my budget, I would.

One of the more interesting sessions I attended was a roundtable hosted by Lew Tucker and included Harris, VCE and Verizon execs on the panel. It was interesting to me because it talked about case studies from their customers moving to an enterprise cloud and how the cloud is a delivery model for an enterprise application strategy. Many of the road blocks I anticipated enterprises would have moving to the cloud were mentioned by panelists, but also addressed to the point that many are investing that technical trust in cloud providers to be an extension of their enterprise. The panelists agreed that the short term objectives for the cloud, in order for more enterprises to trust it are 1) Licensing, 2) application maturity/readiness, and that 3) the barriers to multi-tenancy must be addressed. Verizon (and through their acquisition of Terremark) mentioned that they built their infrastructure to be audited and are used to their multi-national clients showing up at the data center with auditors. The mantra of a cloud provider: 'Safe IT Delivery'.

Unfortunately my flight home was scheduled at such a time that I couldn't make the closing keynote of William Shatner. I certainly enjoyed watching it later though on Ustream.

I took a ton of pictures, but most didn't turn out great -- luckily Cisco had that covered as well: here are some Photo Highlights of the conference. The #CL11 hashtag was going strong during the event and many other blogs and videos were posted. The Cisco TechWiseTV team did a demo of the new Sup2T recently.

A few of my photos

It was Vegas though -- so I used it partially as a vacation. Next year Cisco Live is in San Diego, which I certainly wouldn't mind vacationing to, so.....