(Disclaimer: This post was co-written by Leon and Kevin and presents a point/counterpoint style view of Cisco Live US 2019. But without either calling the other “ignorant” or insulting their choice in quantity of romantic liaisons.)
But those that know us, know that like to have fun at these events. One of those things was #KiltedMonday, which is a tradition that the Monday of Cisco Live! US, attendees are encouraged to wear their kilts instead of the blasé pants. I added a kilt to my ensemble a few years ago, and I kept it strong this year. As good as it was to be able to show off my shins, it was good to speak with everyone who came up to the booth. But the best part, the absolute best part, was introducing some new SolarWinds people to the booth experience.
We had a handful of “raw” recruits this year. This wasn’t just their first Cisco Live, this was their first ever event with SolarWinds. Monday is always a mad dash for swag, new feature demos, and saying “hi” to old friends. All I can say is that the new recruits did a smashing job at handling the flow, pivoting on topics, and responding to questions. Day one is typically the most hectic and a good trial-by-fire. Not too much unlike starting a new job in IT.
Monday was still a holiday for me.
Status update: Voice is already scratchy. Must come up with a regiment so I don’t “talk” myself hoarse on the first day.
The Completely Un-Necessary Summary
At the end of the week, the biggest takeaway for me was the number of non-network people walking around Cisco Live. This concerned a handful of the booth staff, some of the other vendors, and many of the attendees, but not me. For me, this was the year when topics started shifting from an us vs. them to more of an us with them focus. Functional silos are great for training and specialization, but horrible for troubleshooting real-world issues. The number of systems administrators, security operations professionals, and monitoring engineers this year was up and that made me smile. Attendees inquiring about how complete stack monitoring can help them get to root causes (or at least to stop spinning their wheels chasing red herrings) was an absolute pleasure to hear. Even if the problem isn’t in your wheelhouse, ignoring it doesn’t make it go away. Good tools can help pinpoint the problem and get you back to happy.
Next up for me is the New York SWUG and I’m looking forward to connecting with people again at that event. Hopefully by that time, my voice will have returned to its pre-event levels. Cisco Live may be over for this year, but that doesn’t mean the lessons learned or the connections made will go away.
As Kevin and I both noted, Cisco Live is unlike any other show we attend. At the same time, this year was different in one notable way—while every other year the visitors to our booth were both steady (the booth really never got empty) and relentless (we’d usually be doing a demo and have one or more people queueing up for a demo after we were done); this year we saw distinctive ebbs and flows. At first I worried that SolarWinds had somehow lost its mojo, but then we saw that the rest of the expo floor was equally barren. By the third day, I was asking around for reasons. It turns out that there was a rumor going around, that if you badged into a session and left early, the RFID sensors would pick it up and you wouldn’t get credit for attendance. That kept butts in chairs when they might otherwise have used the time to talk to your favorite monitoring enthusiasts. We’ll have to wait until next year to see if that rumor continues to hold sway.
Speaking of next year, mark your calendar and start saving your pennies. Cisco Live returns to Las Vegas, running from May 30 – June 4. For those of you with a Jewish holiday calendar handy, that means it starts the day AFTER Shavuot. I’ll make sure I have plenty of leftover cheesecake on hand.
Those are our thoughts. What was your experience?