Cisco Live Europe (CLEUR), hosted in Berlin this year, marked my second foray into the world of all things Cisco® as SolarWinds® Head Geek®. I’m here to testify that it did NOT disappoint!


The convention was small, but only in comparison to its American cousin, with 11,000 people in attendance in Berlin versus the 25,000 people who showed up in San Diego last June. Whatever may have been missing in quantity was more than made up for in intensity. The people who visited our booth, and who I spoke with in the hallways and in talks, were driven and focused. Everyone I spoke with had their own personal list of questions they wanted answered, technologies they wanted to view and review, and ideas they wanted to explore.

CLEUR delivered experiences and answers to those questions in spades. As always, the show was geared toward the IT professional, but the emphasis was squarely on the IT and much less on the professional. The spaces were liberally decorated with graffiti-style signage. Learning areas dedicated to DevOps and DevNet were given prime real estate and liberal floor space. Vendors were pulled into the collaborative mood (whether they planned to or not), through an engaging side quest from Arduino (not exactly your typical Cisco Live partner).


This side quest involved scouring the vendor area for parts needed to build a specific Arduino project. It may have been a sound emitter or a controller for a robotic arm. Each vendor had a bucket of one type of part, either a connector cable, a Wi-Fi card, a servo controller, or the like. Attendees had to ask vendors to see which part they stocked. If you needed multiple cables, you were going to visit several vendors to complete your inventory. Once all the parts were collected, players returned to the Arduino booth to assemble everything and test the end result with a staff member. If your project worked, you were entered into the running to win an iPad®, BB-8, or other cool gift.


That Cisco would invite this kind of pan-vendor scavenger hunt underscored for me the shift from the traditional "come see each vendor sell their wares" mentality, to the far more real-world view that each vendor probably has a piece of the solution your company needs, but it's up to you, the internal IT pro, to determine which pieces you need right now and figure out how to make them all work together to achieve your desired result.


Bottom line, this was a brilliant metaphor for CLEUR as a whole.


So what kinds of questions did we get at the SolarWinds booth? Along with the usual interest in NPM and SAM (our core flagship products), there were LOTS of questions about how NCM could both simplify and improve the management of network infrastructure. There was an equal level of interest in IPAM and UDT. The oncoming freight train of IPv6 (not to mention the general trend of environments growing at geometric rates due to IoT and BYOD), was at the heart of the matter for many of our visitors. And NTA was once again on many people's wish lists, with a deep appreciation for the insight NetFlow offers.


The other notable feature of CLEUR was... the food! Coffee stations were liberally placed throughout the show floor, which kept attendees fueled up all day. Lunch was served from silver chafing dishes in cavernous halls by a staff that resembled an army, both in execution and quantity. And near the end of each day, the show floor became a veritable buffet with stations serving soft pretzels, sushi, ice cream, and assorted hors d'oeuvres, along with a fantastic selection of local beers.


Cisco Live is an experience in every sense of the word. The event has the potential to enhance not just your knowledge of the networking space, but also your appreciation for the best that IT has to offer. I can't wait to see how Cisco Live US in Las Vegas this June raises the bar even higher.