Cisco Live London 2013 – part 1


As promised in my preview post, I will be delivering some technical blogs relating to what I’ve picked up at the Cisco Live London 2013 event but a few people were kind enough to get in touch and tell me that they appreciated the summary posts that I did last year too so I thought I’d do a couple, this being the first. Nothing to do with being in a jolly mood, I just like to deliver!

Up until a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t going to Cisco Live. At that point, the generous folks at NextiraOne who had been working with our parent company, offered us a ticket which I was only too happy to snap up. I wasn’t able to get my company to stump up the extra for the technical seminar on the Monday so arrived late on Monday night in readiness for Tuesday’s fun and games.


As regulars to Cisco Live will know, Tuesday morning is keynote time. This is available for viewing online if you want to see the full event but the key announcement seemed to be the Catalyst 3850. This is effectively a souped up 3750 with built in Wireless LAN controller. The stacking technology has been seriously improved, both in terms of physical connections and throughput. I was told that pricing is comparable to the 3750, before you take any WLC licensing in to account. A pair of these switches at the core of the office network that I upgraded last year with a 3750 stack and a 2504 WLC would have done the trick. What was a little strange was that the news of the 3850 was of no surprise to most attendees. Even Cisco’s website had been showing tantalizing clues in the run up to this week. It’s been harder recently to work out what is leaked information (e.g. ACE deprecation) and what is clever use of bloggers, social media and the web to get the rumour mill buzzing.

I had three technical sessions on Tuesday, a UCS deep dive, Remote Access using Clientless VPN and Advanced AnyConnect Deployment and Troubleshooting with ASA. All three were very good and have given me lots of food for thought. I am currently studying towards my CCNP Security so the VPN sessions were a natural fit as was the UCS deep dive in light of my company recently installing our first UCS domain. I plan on doing a post on each of these, perhaps with at least one having a demonstration video. Yikes…that could go horribly wrong for me!

After seeing Greg Ferro’s invitation on his website to meet at the Fox for network beers, I decided to wind him up a bit by having a T-shirt printed at one of the World of Solution vendor stalls. I think he’s finally changing his opinion on the platform…

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It was a good turn out and there was lots of nerdy discussion and everybody picked up a few more online followers. Had it been later in the week, I’m sure it could have degraded in to a drunken mess but three hours later and most people sensibly called it a day.


Wednesday’s schedule got turned completely on it’s head. I changed my first session for the one in the adjoining room based on a gut feeling. It was about data centre and virtualisation management and included a fair bit about various programmability options. Being a lightweight these days, I was still feeling a little sensitive from the night before but it was a good session.

The second keynote of the week falls on the Wednesday but I had decided that, after only paying lip service to the World of Solutions last year (or should I say pen, cup, mouse mat and yo-yo service), I would give every booth a quick visit at least and stop off to ask some searching questions of those who offered something that tipped my interest. That’s not to say that I didn’t pick up yet another bountiful booty as I went. Mia had sent me down with a mission to pick up a load of rubbish and bless her, that’s what she’ll be getting. She won’t want for a pen for the next 10 years and should we ever have a power cut, I have enough torches to make any IPv6 analogy relating to grains of sand seem insignificant.

The afternoon was thrown up in the air too. I was booked in for an advanced firewalls session but found most of the content was quite dry and was beyond what I needed to know. With that in mind, I cut my losses half way through and used the remaining time before my  final session down in the walk in labs, playing about with EEM and Tcl scripts. Looking through the lab ‘menu’, I’ll be popping back in tomorrow for a couple of other labs.

I had planned on going to an SDN for Service Providers session at 16:30, but after bumping in to a couple of people I had met the night before and attending a vendor demonstration, I ended up missing it, buying some books from the book store and calling it a day at just after 17:15.

The Scottish Cisco team always invite Scottish based company attendees to a night out during Cisco Live and after having a good laugh and some great food last year, I was keen to attend again. As many fellow engineers have stated before me, the social networking at Cisco Live is as important, if not more so, than the sessions. Whereas last year, I had to trek half way across London to get to the restaurant, this time I had less than a five minute walk from the company flat. Being Scottish and being on Cisco’s moolah, these guys know how to have a good time. The Scottish networking community is quite small so even in my relatively short time in the world of Cisco, I’ve met the Cisco guys on a number of occasions and they are all a good bunch, despite Paul Quinn turning up having borrowed one of Noel Edmond’s shirts.

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There were others from Scottish Government and Scottish Power too. Apologies to the others not mentioned. A good time was had by all and the food was ‘right tasty’.

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I got back to the flat in time for Match of the Day and headed to bed to try and get a good night’s sleep in advance of my last full day, and the Customer Appreciation Event tomorrow evening. Last year I opted out of this in favour of heading to the pub with Jody Lemoine (@ghostinthenet), Ron Fuller (@ccie5851), Jon Still (@xanthein) and J Metz(@drjmetz) and then later a curry with Jody, who is sorely missed this year. Tomorrow, I plan on hitting the party and consuming several thousand calories.

Till the next time.

Cisco Live London 2013 – preview


It’s that time of year again, Cisco Live London 2013. Last year, I was a virgin to Cisco Live but my cherry was popped about 30 minutes in to the technical seminar on the Monday. By the end of the week, I had learnt an incredible amount of useful information, not just technically focused but also about how the event works. Things like when is best to visit the World of Solutions, how the waiting lists for sessions work and how to survive on four hours sleep a night (this latter point, to be truthful, was learnt during the 1st six months of my daughter’s life).

Up until very recently, I thought I would be joining the sessions via Cisco Live 365 online and then out of nowhere came an offer of a ticket. I got the chance to create my account only six days before the event but, after an initial fear that I would have nothing but the dregs to choose from, was happy to see that I could fill my schedule with things of interest to me.

Last year’s agenda

In short, I will be avoiding the following topics that I hit heavily last year:

  • WAN optimization. Working for an ISP, we have many customers coming in to our core network via WAN links for either Internet access, Inter-site traffic or to access hosted clouds
  • IPv6. I needed to get up to speed on this quickly for my CCNP studies. I don’t think there is going to be much movement towards adoption in the UK over the next 12 months. If I’m proved wrong and, as a company, we decide to make a move to deploy in that time, last year’s sessions will hold me in good stead regardless and I’ll be able to hit the ground running
  • WiFi. I had a WiFi deployment project coming up at this time last year so I squeezed a few related sessions in which were most useful

I also attended some routing based labs and sessions. I found that once I came back from last year’s event, my motivation to complete my CCNP (I still had the ROUTE and TSHOOT exams left) went through the roof.

This year’s agenda

With all of that in mind, I’ve broken this year’s sessions in to the following broad topics:

  • Security. Those who read my blog know that I am currently studying towards my CCNP Security. I’m booked in to a number of related sessions that cover ASAs, IPS and advanced remote access configuration. I’ve no doubt I’ll get the same motivation to get cracking with my studies upon my return
  • Data centre. I sat in on a few related sessions last year, including a monster technical seminar on the Monday that blew my mind. At that time, it was more out of interest that I attended these events. This year, we have UCS in our data centre with Nexus on it’s way so it is imperative that I turn up the heat. There are even a couple of SDN sessions in there. I’ve had so much SDN thrown at me over the last 12-18 months from various sources that I am hoping to let some of this finally crystallise in to understanding!
  • Keynotes. I found last year’s quite interesting. I’ll be keen to see how Cisco are viewing the world right now and what their vision of the future is
  • Socialising. An extremely important aspect of any event such as this. Last year, I met some great people and learnt things outside of the sessions. I ate curry and drank beer and a good time was had by all. I fully expect to top this at 2013’s event


Watch this space for some related blog posts. Last year, I was like a giddy teenager who had stolen the keys to his dad’s sports car and was blogging every night in to the wee hours. This year, rather than talk about the event in summary daily posts, I plan on putting together some more technically focused posts, which may take longer but will hopefully be of value to some readers.

If you are going, give me a shout and we’ll meet up.

Till the next time.

Cisco Live London 2012 Day 4

As much as yesterday at Cisco Live London 2012 was about the WAN for me, today was all about IPv6. Well, beer and curry and IPv6 too. At the start of the week, today was going to be about learning more about UCS. Following on from the excellent seminar on Monday, and my colleague’s recommendation of the IPv6 intructor led lab (that he attended yesterday), I decided UCS should take the back seat so I turned up 15 minutes early to be first in the waiting line – this session had been fully booked. Thankfully, not everybody booked in turned up by 08:57, which is when they start letting the people on the waiting list in.

Bam!! Four hours of labbing, with three excellent instructors on hand to answer any questions. There were seven main labs, with four optional ones. I made sure that I fully understood everything I was doing before moving on to the next part and was glad to have made it through five of the seven main labs in the four hours. Missing the last two did not concern me as the lab is available for download and the topology will be easily created in GNS3. As I tweeted later in the day, I will be setting up IPv6 at my home in the coming days and seeing what IPv6 only resources I can access on the Internet. The best way to understand IPv6 is to get stuck in and see what it does. I could feel my trepidation fading away with each successful confirmation that I’d configured it correctly.

The afternoon brought two IPv6 breakout sessions, the first delivered by Cisco IT about how they implemented IPv6 in their own business presented by Khalid Jawaid, the second a session on planning, deploying and things to consider presented by the very capable Yenu Gobena. Although the Cisco IT session was good, the second one was far more informative for me and rounded off my IPv6 day nicely…

…just in time for Net Beers. Yep, last night of Cisco Live is party night but instead of heading straight to the main event, myself with @ghostinthenet and @ccie5851 (Jody Lemoine and Ron Fullar respectively) met up with @xanthein (Jon Still) who unfortunately hadn’t been able to make it to Cisco Live. A good night was had by all and it wasn’t long before Jody was outnerding us all with his knowledge of Sci-Fi & fantasy, history and many other things too. He also won the ‘Matt’s favourite T-shirt of the week’ competition:

Geek T-shirt
You shall not pass!!

At about 21:00, I was feeling rather peckish so Jody and I said our farewells to Jon and headed to the Cisco Live party. The setup was pretty cool, although most of the food had already been taken by that point so when Jody said he felt like a curry, I told him I knew a place! So off to Brick Lane in Shoreditch again for a chilli masala and a vindaloo for Jody (at a different place from Monday, not quite as nice but very pleasant). And so another post midnight day came to an end, I thought I’d keep today’s post a bit briefer.

Two sessions tomorrow to take me up to lunch time, then it’s back up north of the border. Will give an overview of those as soon as I get the chance and a summary of the week as a whole. Also, in light of today’s sessions, I’ve changed the tagline of the blog from “The of networking”. It’s all about progress!!

Till the next time…