An engineer’s perspective:
When Forfusion Ltd held a competition last year for a Senior Network Engineer to attend Cisco Live! 2015 in Milan, I was fortunate enough to win. As soon as the schedule was available, I booked onto a full week of Labs, technical breakout briefing sessions and even managed to pass a Cisco exam too.
I was a bit apprehensive about the prospect of Italian Public Transport – having never used it before and not being able to speak Italian! Arriving at Milan Malpensa Airport, I made my way through the airport to the metro station and was bamboozled by the alleged ‘quick ticket’ machine, as pressing the ‘English’ button didn’t make any difference in the available choices, but looking at the map, I guessed “Urbano” should be a suitable ticket and thankfully I was right!
After arriving and looking around the venue (Milano Congressi or MiCo for short) on Monday, I wasn’t able to book onto any briefings for the Monday and the “World of Solutions” exhibition wasn’t open until the Tuesday, so I decided to sit my CVOICE exam. After passing with flying colours, I was in a great mood for the rest of the conference!
Later, I managed to find the Developers’ Network (DevNet) area, which was new for Cisco Live! 2015. DevNet was a series of stands covering a wide range of technologies, including: Software Defined Networks (SDN) Controllers and Augmented Reality, which allowed you to walk around the Cisco Campus and visualise user tracking of real people! The user tracking enabled you to view where different devices were located in near real time in one of Cisco’s buildings in San Jose.
Also, in DevNet was UnifiedFX which enables the virtual management of physical phones so that testing can be carried out on real devices such as firmware updates and network changes prior to being rolled out. The Cloud Virtual Private Network (VPN) gave an easy-to-use interface, providing VPN connectivity between branch offices and applies the configuration to the network devices before shipping them to address specified for each site.
Unsurprisingly there was excellent Wi-Fi coverage throughout the MiCo and you could see the people who had an interest in Wi-Fi as they were walking around the venue, spotting the access points (APs) and then taking pictures.
I began Tuesday with a four hour Lab on “Basic and Advanced Troubleshooting of Nexus 1000v,” which began well with an overview, but had a few technical issues, which meant all of the tasks couldn’t be completed.
Nonetheless, this gave me a chance to have a more thorough walk around the “World of Solutions,” which was the main area with stands and demonstrations on equipment and services.
After lunch, I attended an “Intermediate – Troubleshooting SIP with Cisco Unified Communications” breakout session, which gave a fantastic overview of Session Initiation Protocol (SIP), its call flows and what errors you may see. This was in preparation for the SIP Lab I had booked for the Friday morning.
Wednesday was a day of more presentations on:
• Enterprise Dial Plans
• Unified Communications Manager Security
• And SIP Normalisation
These were all really good briefings with some very in-depth technical content including some bonus material to review afterwards.
Thursday was the last full day of Cisco Live! 2015 and I started the day with “Solution Troubleshooting for Unified Contact Centre Enterprise (UCCE),” which was delivered by a Cisco Technical Assistance Centre (TAC) Engineer.
It started with a system overview and then, rather surprisingly for TAC, quickly went into which logs you needed to collect before contacting them. It was very interesting and changed the way I looked at the system, as it demonstrated that the Cisco Voice Portal was the hub for all of UCCE.
Before lunch, I attended “Understanding Cisco Jabber Persistent Client,” which is Cisco’s offering in the chatroom world based on the Jabber instant messaging (IM) client.
This was another very interesting technical presentation with bonus material available to download after it. After lunch I had my final breakout session, which was “The Essential Quick Start Guide To Adopting Finesse As The Agent Desktop Interface,” which gave me a few ideas to try back in our Lab. These included a few additional gadgets that are part of Finesse as well as looking at options for changing the layout for the desktop.
The guest keynote speaker was technology entrepreneur, Peter Hinssen, who gave an engaging, humorous and insightful talk. Certain parts were a little scary for the future with a view on how people will use technology, who the next big players could be and how new technology is being adopted now.
Trends Hinssen talked about included how the ‘Technology Adoption Lifecycle’ has changed, with many young people now viewing work as “a place I go to use old technology” and are far more willing to Early Adopters leaving no Early majority. This could be a driving factor in the way companies develop and deploy products. A picture of PewDiePie was also shown and the vast majority of audience did not recognise him, but with 34 million follows of his YouTube Channel it is a major influence in popular culture.
This left the Customer Appreciation Event for the Thursday evening, where there was plenty of food and drink supplied along with some musical acts including a Daft Punk tribute act, and a Queen tribute act that played 2 sets (after a few more beers there were plenty of people doing their best Freddie Mercury impression, which was better than the person on stage!) With everybody suitably warmed up it was time for Black Star Riders, (a group made up from former members of Thin Lizzy and Megadeath). They played a number of songs, but everyone was waiting for “Whisky in the Jar” which they delivered to finish the event off.
On Friday morning, I went to a Lab session on “Cisco Unified CM 10.0 SIP Trunking, Session Management, Intercluster Lookup Service and URI Dialling.” This Lab worked far better than the first Lab with only a few technical hitches slowing us up and there was the Lab to download as a reference for when we got home. Finishing the Lab, I started my return journey which, with my knowledge of Italian Public Transport, was far smoother than my initial experience!
Cisco Live 2015 was a fantastic opportunity to meet people and see what new technology is just around the corner. The Technical Breakout Sessions gave me the chance to ask questions I did not have while dealing with Cisco TAC on a one to one. I encourage anyone interested in Cisco technologies to go to future Cisco