If you’re attending Cisco Live 2017, there are myriad sessions to consider as well as networking events, hands-on labs and opportunities to get guidance from experts one on one. In what follows, we highlight some key learning opportunities to exploit at the show.
While there are plenty of IT infrastructure shows, Cisco Live 2017 attendees gravitate to this annual event because they say it’s a great place to network with a critical mass of network engineers and other IT pros. With 27,000 attendees expected at this year’s event, Cisco Live brings expertise and professional networking opportunities in droves.
“What I want to get most out of Cisco Live this year is building relationships with people in my industry,” said Rowell Dionicio, a networking engineer at a West Coast university who is attending Cisco Live for the second year in a row.
Dionicio said that the event gives IT pros great access to peers engaged in conversation about networking challenges and trends. “Whether it’s a party or a meetup, it’s a great place to speak with other engineers," he said. "A lot of discussions happen across a table, and you can learn something.” Dionicio also outlined some highlights in his Clear to Send podcast, “Cisco Live 2017: Get Ready.”
Dionicio noted that Cisco Live keeps him connected with various IT pros he has met on social platforms – not through his work at the university. They attend sessions together and compare notes afterward. “We go as a group and talk about what we liked; what we didn’t like. We provide feedback to each other on how a session went.”
Dionicio noted that the sessions also help him stay apprised of networking trends that are important in his day job, where the university encourages the IT team to stay on the “bleeding edge,” he said.
”We keep our eyes out for technologies that help faculty, staff, and students do what they need to do better, or provide something that is more seamless,” he said. “Anything that helps us do things easier and faster and troubleshoot quickly—those are the kinds of sessions I look for.”
Here is a brief rundown of educational events at Cisco Live 2017. If you’re a networking engineer or even an executive, some of these sessions may pique your interest.
Meet the Expert sessions. These sessions are a chance to meet one on one with a Cisco engineer to discuss problems in your environment or other issues. “If you’re trying to learn a topic, schedule a Meet the Engineer session—you can ask them anything,” Dionicio said. “You can draw on a whiteboard. You can draw out a situation, maybe a problem you’re having on your wireless network. You can map it out for [the engineer], and they can give you input, and you can take that back to your workplace,” he said in his podcast. “I gained a lot of knowledge just by being in a room with them,” Dionicio emphasized. There are also one-on-one sessions to meet with executives.
Certification exams. If you get a full pass with registration, you can take a free Cisco certification exam. Schedule your exam early in the show, Dionicio counseled. It’s easier to take the exam before you’ve attended multiple sessions, which might put you on information overload. “Focus on the exam first, get it out of the way,” he said.
The DevNet Zone. The DevNet Zone is Cisco’s on-site software developer resource and community. If you take some time in the zone, you can get hands-on with application programming interfaces in learning labs, classes, demos, mini-hacks, workshops, panels and more.
Capture the Network game. The game is a mobile challenge that encourages attendees to explore the Cisco Campus to learn about various technologies. To play, attendees need Cisco Live Event installed on their smartphone and join a team. The game then interacts with Bluetooth beacons to record attendees’ check-ins at various locations and help them score points as a team.
Cisco Tech Field Day. Field Day events, which take place at various vendors shows like Cisco Live, bring together vendors and thought leaders to exchange information through discussion formats. Tech Field Day offers sessions with distinguished speakers and panels and some discussions are live-streamed. The sessions enable practitioners, industry experts and members of the media to participate in discussions on the future of the IT infrastructure market.
With so many sessions, networking events and parties, it can be difficult to plan a schedule. But Dionicio noted that he plans his session schedule as well as his networking activities with an eye toward extending his project knowledge in his job and expanding his professional networking circle.
“I base [my session choices] on my current pain points in my current workplace, where we might be going in the future, and something that will challenge me that I haven’t looked at before,” Dionicio said.
Lauren Horwitz is the managing editor of Cisco.com, where she covers the IT infrastructure market and develops content strategy. Previously, Horwitz was a senior executive editor in the Business Applications and Architecture group at TechTarget;, a senior editor at Cutter Consortium, an IT research firm; and an editor at the American Prospect, a political journal. She has received awards from American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), a min Best of the Web award and the Kimmerling Prize for best graduate paper for her editing work on the journal article "The Fluid Jurisprudence of Israel's Emergency Powers.”