ZNDP 003 – Cisco Live US 2016 Recap

Thank you for joining me for another episode of the Zigbits Network Design Podcast (ZNDP), where Zigabytes are faster than Gigabytes. We strive to provide real world context around technology. I’m Michael Zsiga also known in the community as Zig, and I am your host.

I’m really excited by the communities overwhelming positive feedback from just the first two episodes of the Zigbits Network Design Podcast (ZNDP). In addition to the outstanding positive feedback I have received, the communities support by the number of subscribers to the show has over exceeded my personal expectations. I’m so humbled by the response the community has given to this show.

In addition to creating, scheduling, and developing new content for the main portions of each show, what I have started calling “the meat and potatoes“, I’ve also been focusing on a number of Podcast specific tasks over the last couple of weeks, keeping in mind this is a huge learning curve for me from the podcast side of things.

1. Extending the shows reach on social media
2. Creating a number of feedback workflows
3. Realizing what I am and what I am not
4. Getting better at Audio editing

1. Extending the shows reach on social media

You can still follow Zigbits on twitter by going to https://twitter.com/zigbits.  In addition to twitter you can now find Zigbits on LinkedIn by searching for the Zigbits company page. Zigbits LinkedIn Page!

All shows and blogs will be published on the Official Zigbits Twitter account and LinkedIn page moving forward. If you want to keep up to date on all Zigbits news, updated, and recommendations please feel free to follow us on both Twitter and LinkedIn!

2. Creating a number of feedback workflows

I realized pretty quickly after the first episode that I needed to start figuring out how to get your feedback, your questions, and your comments into the shows itself. Lets Face it, this is highly important and its something that has been on my mind for some time now. I’ve come to the initial conclusion that for now, we will have an email that you can send your inputs into the show. Now I totally understand this is not live but this is a start, its progress. The email address that we will be using for this is Feedback@zigbits.tech. In addition to the email feedback workflow, I’ve been pondering the idea of running another slack group but for the Zigbits brand. I do say another because I am already in 7 Slack Groups today that I honestly just can’t keep up with.  I do see the benefit of Slack, and I actually really do like it, just not the constant notifications and the influx of missed messages every time I walk away.

Enough ranting on Slack, I would like to ask you if you would like to have and would use an official Zigbits Slack group for constant communication?  If the answer is yes please send an email to Feedback@Zigbits.tech saying so.  I will gather all of the feedback messages and decide if its a good idea based on the interest.

3. Realizing what I am and what I am not

Probably one of the most important items that I have been working on is understand what I am and what I am not. In the beginning of the first two episodes of the Zigbits Network Design Podcast (ZNDP), I’m not being myself.  I’m being more like a bad Radio DJ. I’ve realized it, got some great feedback from some of you out there, and I’m trying something different with this episode. It is going to take me some time to figure out what feels right for me and what I believe is also right for you.

4. Getting better at Audio editing

The final item that I have been focusing on is a general understanding of Audio editing. I’ve been following a ton of Podcast shows on Podcasting.  The two primary shows I have been following are The Podcast Answer Man by Cliff Ravenscraft and The Audacity to Podcast by Daniel J. Lewis. In addition to listening to these two amazing and helpful shows, I have been watching a good amount of YouTube videos on Podcasting. I’m still working on the basics and it is time consuming, but I am committed to this show and to this community. I will keep getting better with each episode that I publish.

Now to the Meat and Potatoes of the show.

Cisco Live US 2016 was by far one of the best Cisco Lives I have had the opportunity to attend.

Today’s agenda is:

1. Looking forward to
2. My CLUS16 Session Schedule
3. CCDE / Network Desgin Specific Sessions
4. CLUS16 Top Sessions
5. CLUS16 Top Presenters List
6. Summary

1. Looking forward to

I was highly looking forward to CLUS16 last year for a number of reasons. Just in case not everyone listening knows, Cisco live 2016 was hosted in Las Vegas, Nevada last year.

We got Married…Nine years ago!

Now I have been to Vegas one other time before CLUS16, but not for work or a conference, a much different reason. About nine years ago, My wife Julie and I drove to Vegas from Oceanside California to get Married before my next deployment to Iraq. As I’m sure most of you could only imagine what it would mean for us to come back to Vegas together after nine years of our marriage. We discussed it. We then ran the numbers to see if we could swing it. Once we verified we could financially afford to make the trip happen, we booked it.

For us this trip was a chance to complete a full Circle in our nine years of marriage. A chance to remember the beginning of our relationship, reflect on where we are now, and to ponder the journey that has taken us there. We decided to arrive a few days early so we could spend some time together before the conference started.   This was a great opportunity for us to spend some quality time together and have some fun before I was pulled into the nerd awesomeness that takes place at Cisco Live. We stayed in a suite at Mandalay Bay which was amazing! I will include some of the pictures from our room in the show notes, they were stunning!


My CCIE Family

Meeting the core group of guys from my CCIE R&S Study group was something that I was seriously looking forward too. For our CCIE R&S Study group we became more than just friends, more than just someone you study with or throw technical questions at. We became family, My CCIE Family as I like to call it. We know more about each other than most of our other friends in our lives. Most days of our CCIE R&S Journey together, we spent more time talking to one another than to our own families. I’m sure our wives were tired of us talking about each other, I know mine was at times, its all I would talk about. Steven did this, Kyle did that, Chad said this.

There is a bond formed in such a environment and situation that I am describing here. This bond goes far beyond a journey for an expert level certification. Its a bond bound by the journey but not restricted by it. When you take a small group of highly technical people with one specific focus and the necessary drive, the determination, and dedication to a unique common goal, this is what is formed. A life long bond that is never ending.

Aside: I recommend everyone pursing an expert level certification should join a study group. You need this technical support system, probably not to the level that we had in ours, but you need a group of people with a common goal bouncing technologies off of one another, labbing together, troubleshooting together. Just to be clear here as well, I’m not saying join a group like this to use as a short cut or a way to cheat the system, I’m specifically saying to join a group like this to maintain motivation, drive, dedication, and commitment to the same goal. If you would like to learn more about my CCIE R&S Strategy and experience, you can read all about My CCIE R&S journey here. https://zigbits.tech/my-ccie-rs-journey/

CLUS16 was the first time that our study group was going to meet together. Chad and Steven had met at CLUS15, but this was the first time the four of us would be able to meet, hang out, and really talk face to face in years. We did as much together as possible between sessions, CAE, CCIE Party, and our work commitments. We had a lot of midnight pizza! My wife wasn’t the only spouse that came, Kyle and Steven had brought their wive’s as well for part of the conference. This gave our wives a chance to meet each other and us…the nerds.



I’m a CCIE!

This was the first time I would attend a Cisco Live as a CCIE, let alone a Dual CCIE.  Getting your CCIE Ribbon(s) for the first time is a once in a life time experience.  I dont think I will ever feel 100% whole at a Cisco Live event until the Certification lounge is opened and my associated ribbons are attached.   Also, in the Cisco Certification lounge there was an air brushing tattoo station, where you could get a temporary tattoo of the certifications you have.  I’m personally such a nerd that I thought this was an awesome idea.  I had them put both the CCIE R&S and CCIE SP tattoos on my arm. I will included a picture of these in the show notes of this episode.

CLUS16’s CCIE Party was a pool party outside in Vegas. Being that it was my first CCIE Party, I had some high expectations for the event. Some of the food was good while some of it wasn’t the best. I’m not sure a pool party was the best idea for the Vegas heat, especially since we couldn’t go into the pool to cool down. There were a ton of people there and the lines for everything were pretty long. It was a great opportunity to catch up with some people within the industry and talk to some customers that were invited guests.

CCDE Study Group

At this time that CLUS16 was scheduled, I had been heavily working towards the CCDE. Like I mentioned above about a study group, I was also in a CCDE Study group with some highly technical people across the world. For me, this was an opportunity to meet people in this community that I looked up too and that I talked too every Saturday / Sunday, in most cases more like every day, for the last 9 months. Some of the people that I was fortunate enough to meet at CLUS16 were Russ White and Daniel Dib. Outside of our CCDE Study group I was able to meet with Elaine Lopes, Marwan Alshawi, Brad Edgeworth, Yuri Lukin, and Jason Gooley. Some of these meetings were scheduled with one on one meetings or Meet the Experts, while others were more on the whim / chance. There are always more people to meet, but there is never enough time to do everything at Cisco Live. You really need to pace yourself for the entire week.

Shhh…Whisper Suites…Shhh

Quite now, we are talking about Cisco Whisper Suites. If you are not familiar with what a Whisper Suite is let me explain a little. In my experience a Whisper Suite is an NDA session with specific groups within Cisco. These sessions can be discussing a new top secret project that hasn’t been released to the masses yet, and may never be, or it can be a meeting with the corresponding business unit within Cisco on a current technology solution that is on the market. For this Cisco Live trip I attended a number of Cisco Whisper Suites on technology solutions that were already on the Market to include: IWAN, DNA, ACI, and ISE. I really look forward to these Whisper suites because it gives me the opportunity to provide both positive and negative criticism on these solutions with the groups that can make the needed changes. It also gives us a chance to freely discuss the road map of the technology solution in question, which allows us to strategically plan for the future. The whisper suites are like Fight club, you cannot talk about what happens and what is discussed in the whisper suites, but they do exist…they are just under a non disclosure agreement (NDA).

Maroon 5

The Customer Appreciation Event (CAE) last year was amazing. As we all entered the CAE, we were given the CLUS16 Hat. I will post a picture of the CLUS16 Hat I received. I’m not sure how CLUS17’s CAE is going to top last years, Maroon 5 really did a great job. My wife is a huge Maroon 5 fan, so we had decided to get as close as possible to them as we could. We ended up on the floor right in front of the stage which was a great experience. In hindsight though, which is always twenty twenty, I was unaware of how long we would be standing for. My feet had already been sore and hurting from all of the walking throughout the week so far, by the end of the CAE my feet were on fire. Lesson learned once again as this is not the first time, I need to wear comfortable shoes and I need to find seats at the CAE next year. Don’t make the same mistake I made and end up with some really sore feet!


Kevin Spacey!!

The Keynotes for CLUS16 were top notch for an IT Conference. Kevin Spacey was hands down the best I’ve ever seen, not sure how CLUS17 is going to top him. I’ve personally been a huge Kevin Spacey fan for years, so to have a chance to hear him speak like this was a once in a life time experience.

2. My CLUS16 Session Schedule

My CLUS16 schedule was focused on three key interwoven goals.  Work related, CCDE related, and Automation & Orchestration related.  Its not easy to fill any Cisco Live schedule with just one of these goals but I had three that I needed to address and overlap where possible.  In addition to these goals I also had some personal constraints I put on myself for sessions.  Ever since my first Cisco Live event, I limit myself to a maximum of 2-3 sessions in a day.  There are other events, meetings, and face to face time that is needed and if you book every waking minute in a session, you will miss out on some of the other aspects of what Cisco Live is all about.  In its raw basic form, it is a networking event for networking people.

Below is the list of my CLUS16 session schedule.

3. CCDE / Network Design Specific Sessions

This CCDE / Network Design session list is not fully inclusive of all sessions that would fit into the design bucket.  This list is my own personal take on the sessions that were presented last year that fit the areas that I needed help in the most.  I highly recommend matching up the sessions that best compliment the areas you would get the most out of.

4. CLUS16 Top Sessions

Each year after CLUS, I plan to list off my top 3 – 5 sessions from that year.  Here are the top 3 sessions from CLUS16.

5. CLUS16 Top Presenters List

Each year after CLUS, I plan to list off my top 3 – 5 presenters from that year.  Here are the top 3 presenters from CLUS16.

  1. Denise Fishburne (Fish)
  2. Brad Edgeworth
  3. Vinit Jain

6. Summary

There were a lot of events, sessions, and meetings that I had been looking forward to that didn’t upset. At CLUS16 Our CCIE Study group had a lot of fun together. We ate at a ton of buffets, went to a good amount of top notch technical sessions, had a ton of impromptu technical discussions, and really just let our nerd and geek sides flourish. Even our wives had a lot of fun as well.

For months after CLUS16 our CCIE Study group were having what we termed Cisco Live sickness.  This included withdraws, depressions, and just feeling blah.  We did so much together in such a small period of time that it felt more like a system shutdown when Cisco Live was over.

You can find the show notes to this episode at zigbits.tech/clus16-recap.

You can follow the show on twitter and LinkedIn by searching for zigbits. You can subscribe to the Zigbits Network Design Podcast (ZNDP) on all of your podcast apps like iTunes and Podcast Addict. If you would like to provide feedback to the show or suggest new content please send an email to Feedback@zigbits.tech.

I’m Zig from the Zigbits Network Design Podcast, thank you for Listening!

Guests: None

Hosted By: Michael “Zig” Zsiga

Michael “Zig” Zsiga II, CCDE™ 2016::32, CCIE™ #44883 has been in the networking industry a little over 15 years. He is currently a Lead Technical Architect at ePlus in the New England region of the United States. Zig holds an active CCDE and two CCIE certifications, one in Routing and Switching and the second in Service Provider. Zig also holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Science from Park University. Zig is a father, a husband, a United States Marine, a gamer, a nerd, a geek and a big soccer fan. Zig loves all technology and can usually be found in the lab learning and teaching others. Zig is a co-organizer of The Boston Network Operators Group (www.bosnog.org), runs multiple CCIE Study groups, and is a newly published author. Zig lives in New Hampshire, USA with his wife, Julie and their son Gunnar.