Cisco Live US 2017 is upon us! CLUS itself is the biggest Cisco conference of the year seeing as many as 30,000+ attendees! However, why is it the biggest and what makes it so popular as we all know the biggest may not always be the best. The sheer number of attendees should be a key indicator of the value you can receive from this conference. With a conference of this size, how will you get the best value from this five day conference? Lets go ahead and run through some of the biggest activities!
World of Solutions
Use some time to walk through the world of solutions. The WoS is a nice little expo from many different vendors showing many of their different products. This is an excellent place to see products in action and make new contacts with these companies. You can find a host many different products everything from F5 load balancers, Solarwinds monitors, Red Hat Linux, and even phone cases and bluetooth headsets. Regardless of your specialize (Infrastructure, Security, VoIP/Collaboration, Wireless) there will many different booths for you to check out and investigate further. On the plus side though, there are plenty of giveaways to take part in and if you are feeling lucky you might actually win a cool new gadget or gizmo. One caveat I want to warn you about though, get ready for the onslaught of emails from each of those vendors that scan your CLUS badge.
The Social Hub
There is not enough that can be said about the social hub. If you are looking afor comfy and cozy atmosphere to relax in the midst of the organized chaos that is CLUS, then the social hub is for. Yes, they even couches at the social to make the atmosphere that much more relaxing. There are always many friendly faces to chat with both during the sessions and after hours when the conference disperses. If you participate it is worth taking part of the annual CLUS tweetup, that occurs every year usually on the Sunday before the main conference kicks off and take part in a giant photo!
Technical Sessions & DevNet Zone
The technical sessions are definitely the bread and butter of the conference. The technical sessions cover just about every Cisco technology you can think of across all the different technical levels. Once you start browsing through the available session I’m sure you find it difficult to decide which sessions you want to attend in person, I know I do. My first piece of advise here will be to pick the session you are most interesting in or want to deep dive into the most. You definitely can’t attend all the sessions you will want to but surprisingly you don’t have to. Almost all the sessions are recorded and uploaded to the CiscoLive365 website where you can watch those recorded sessions at your own leisure for free. On top of the technical sessions, there is an entire section dedicated to development in a spot that has been dubbed as the DevNet zone. Over here, you can shift gears from direct network device configuration to working with API’s and start working with different automation techniques. The big thing with the DevNet Zone is that sessions are first come first serve, so even if you sign up for a session you are not fully guaranteed a seat. If there is a specific session you want make sure you take part in I highly recommend you arrive earlier than usual.
TAC Walk-In Clinic / Meet the Engineer
Do you have a random technical question or issue that has been bugging you for a while now? When at CLUS you have an unimaginable amount of brain power at your disposal. For example you can stroll over to the TAC Walk-in clinic where you can chat with a handful of TAC engineers with whiteboards to discuss whatever random question you can think about. You can also visit this section multiple during the conference so there is no need to jot everything down and tackle it all at once. This is not just limited to a single technology either, all the different TAC groups are represented and can call upon one an other in the event your question involves multiple different technologies. One top of that you can schedule some one-on-one time with a Cisco engineer about a specific topic, perfect for deep diving into a individual technology or design question. The one on ones however, you will need to schedule in advance and unlike the technical sessions they are definitely not recorded.
If you’ve registered for a full a conference pass you will have the option to take a free certification course. Shockingly enough this free exam can be used to take any exam you want. Regardless if the exam is at the associate level or even at the expert level. This gives you a free shot to take that exam you have been studying for a no strings attached exam attempt. can anything be less stressful? Or on the flip side if there an exam you have been interested in that you have not had the chance to deep dive into, this could be the perfect excuse to get a feel for that exam in question. Now, on top of a free exam any exam other exam you want to take during the conference is 50% off. So if there are more than one exams you are attempting knock out this just be budgetary jump you need to make it happen. Just another piece to take advantage during the biggest Cisco conference of the year.
That is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to CLUS. The question you might be asking yourself, with so much to do how can you possibly accomplish it all during a 4-5 day conference? Well that is where it gets difficult, if you are planning to fit everything in you going to be hard pressed and will be needing a lot of espresso (yes, coffee is just not going to cut it trust me). Even then though I don’t think you will find the time to do everything you want to do, it will give you the perfect reason to come back the following year. I have to recommend attending CLUS at least twice at a bare minimum, although there is nothing wrong with achieving NetVet status. The social networking and technical sessions make it more than worth it alone and the contacts you meet will make the conference feel like a year round experience!