Christine Fierro, Sr. Director - Networking

Another year, another successful Cisco Live! AI and Splunk were both front and center this year with lots of great announcements including the ThousandEyes powered AI-native Digital Experience Assurance for Cisco Networking Cloud and Cisco HyperFabric, a joint solution with NVIDIA for deploying on-prem AI infrastructure. Beyond the keynotes, attendees could dive deeper into these announcements in various ways including the Keynote Deep Dives, breakouts sessions, World of Solutions and 1:1 meetings with the product teams and business units. I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about these solutions and look forward to helping our customers understand the impact they can have on their business outcomes.

While the technical aspect of Live is always a plus, the part I look forward to the most is connecting with the people and this year did not disappoint. I was able to spend time with customers, partners, colleagues and most importantly, those on my direct team. We're so used to doing things remotely that it's a treasure to be able to spend time with someone face to face or to share a meal. 

Another highlight for me this year was participating in one of WWT's Beyond the Booth video series segments with my colleague Joe Berger (VP, Digital Experience) and ThousandEye's Prab Singh (Director, Product Management). It was such fun to be able to record this live from the World of Solutions and to talk all things ThousandEyes including the new Digital Experience Assurance offering that was announced, the WWT + Cisco partnership and the new ThousandEyes certification. 

Jordan Martin, Principal Solutions Architect

Like most of the industry at the moment, it was impossible to not see how AI is a transformational trend to Cisco and their portfolio of products. Whether it is networking, security, collaboration, or any of the other technology verticals that Cisco operates in, it's clear that investment into augmenting solutions with artificial intelligence is paramount to Cisco's go-forward strategy. 

Outside of everything AI, solid incremental advancements are happening across Cisco's suite of solutions, with a continued goal of creating consistency between product lines. More and more products are sporting the Magnetic User Interface and there are clear efforts to make the security policy experience consistent regardless of the product or solutions that you are working in. I wouldn't say that Cisco has completed this transition by any means, but it's encouraging to see positive movement continue in this direction.

One announcement that caught my eye was Cisco Workflows, a no-code/low-code way of automating Cisco's enterprise controller-based networking solutions. The tool was announced at the conference this year and is due to be GA this fall. It's a cloud delivered solution that has functionality that sits between the extremes of roll-your-own automation and OEM provided black-box integrations. Additionally, it ties in cleanly with some of the other common automation toolsets that organizations are using today, like Ansible and Terraform. It's definitely worth keeping an eye on if you are looking for low-barrier to entry automation solution focused on Cisco's suite of controller-based networking products

Brianna Farrell, Technical Solutions Architect

I recently had the opportunity to attend Cisco Live 2024, and a couple standout topics were discussions around cloud security, AI, and further efforts in unifying existing Cisco product interfaces to have a similar look and feel. I'm excited to see that Cisco recognizes the importance of building an ecosystem and not a modular-based approach to their network and security architectures. This will be very beneficial for organizations who are current Cisco customers and even future customers wanting to improve their operations and transform their network to be less complicated to support.

Artificial Intelligence has also become a very popular topic due in part to the ease of use of ChatGPT to automate and speed up text creation, but AI is more than just a cool text creation tool. It can enable organizations to automate network and security tasks as well as increase the security footprint to detect and respond to threats quickly. One area I was excited and relieved to hear was that Cisco recognizes the need to secure this data that is collected and developed with AI. This is one of the reasons why Cisco has started to integrate their products with Splunk to enhance not just automation across the entire Cisco product lines but be part of safeguarding data. 

Overall, attending Cisco Live was such a valuable experience for me. I was able to network with peers, clients, vendors, and of course folks from Cisco. I am looking forward to Cisco Live 2025 in San Diego! 

Bob Hrbek, Campus & Branch Practice Manager

The show should have been Cisco does AI too.  If you missed the uptick in AI mentions, you probably were out too late at night. Cisco presented a compelling message of how they are integrating AI into their go-to-market and the products they produce.  They are leveraging their recent Splunk acquisition as the data broker and analysis engine to provide real-time insights for events spanning security to user experience.  Unfortunately, due to the AI messaging, the conference felt light on actual Networking, which was a surreal experience for Cisco Live.  However, the number of products currently being integrated together to create new capabilities, insights and to speed deployments was great to see.  Cisco has a wealth of products which historically, could be overwhelming to integrate together.  However, Cisco did a great job of messaging how the value of their history of innovation is combining to produce better products and better experiences for their customers. 

Mike Rice, Technical Solutions Architect - Wireless and Mobility

Wow, Cisco Live 2024 is in the books and this conference didn't let me down, as with most conferences that I have attended in the past my phone must have thought something was wrong with me. I kept getting alerts that I was expending more calories than normal. Well anyhow, on a more serious note, the opportunities to catch up with partners, co-workers, and customers were extremely valuable. I really enjoy the chances to discuss emerging technologies and get face-to-face feedback on where my peers think the industry is going and how they plan to take advantage of the new technologies such as AIOPs, Wi-Fi 7, Intelligent RF management, AP Auto locate, and the merging of cloud and on-prem solutions that make our environments more seamless and easier to manage. It is nice to see features being integrated across all platforms. 

I also attended many sessions and 1:1 meetings with business unit owners. One of my favorite sessions was presented by Vishal Desai, titled "Demystifying the Role of Applied AI in Your Cisco Wireless Deployments." This presentation really broke down Cisco's areas of focus for AI from Day 0 through Day N. The presentation included real-world problem statements and AI-driven solutions that solved issues for customers across several different verticals. I plan on using much of what was learned over the next year when presenting to my customers and account teams.

When given the opportunity to attend a conference, I always try to find a session or two that is outside my area of focus. This year, I took a crack at Ansible and Industrial IoT. It was really humbling and made me appreciate the crazy skills that individuals have in our industry.

Sam Clements, Technical Solutions Architect

AI everywhere. It was clear from everywhere you looked that AI messaging was the buzzword of the event. Along the AI lines, Cisco is joining the chatbot fray with some intriguing ideas… Their strategy centers around one chatbot that is modular with technology "plug-ins" to make it more modular and subject matter relevant. Cisco is seemingly trying to set themselves apart by being far more flexible and long-term sustainable.

On the topic of sustainable, I attended a great session by Simone Arena (BRKEWN-2043) on what sustainability really means to the Wireless team at Cisco and it was insightful about what was possible from an energy perspective. More than just "how can you save a watt", the conversation centered around yes – power consumption and strategies around better efficiency, but also environmental impact to things like packaging, transportation, and not just Cisco's role in sustainability, but ours and the customers role.

From the keynotes, I was intrigued by the Chrome (corporate vs private browser) announcement that seemed light on details, but I have a suspicion may drive some of the UX conversations we've been hearing at Cisco lately. While it's interesting that something as seemingly insignificant as a browser could make an impact, the fact is that more organizations are taking control of the endpoint activities and trying to impose better corporate security and controls on the device. Something that's so tightly integrated into our day-to-day activities is an area that's ripe for innovation. 

On the Wi-Fi side of the house, lack of Wi-Fi 7 messaging was expected, yet still disappointing. 3rd party vendors were still showing off all of the things you'd expect - on the Ventev front, 6GHz antennas abound, as well as smaller and more aesthetically pleasing antennas for those challenging locations.

On the tools side, it was good to see more competition out of our space. Ekahau was certainly present, along with many of the other players you've come to expect big things out of – Hamina and Netally included. Hamina was showing off their Cloud based Wi-Fi Design tools and new hand held measuring device – and Netally was highlighting their expanded offerings in the new Etherscope formfactor – including the new LinkRunner AT3000 (which looks a lot like their newer tools, the CyberScope Air and the AirCheck G3 Pro).

Chuck Johnson, Core Networking Practice Manager

I was pleased to find that what I wanted to learn and what I discovered were in alignment at this year's Cisco Live. I had the opportunity to explore Cisco's artificial intelligence products, services, and roadmaps across a lot of their product lines during the week. I learned that no matter how much planning my team did for meetings (customers and partners), it never is perfect. The GS&A Core Networking Team had several meetings with the Cisco business units that developed products aligned with our go-to-market. The business units were very generous with their time, and our conversations were very valuable to how we are working together. We were able to demonstrate the value of our partnership and had some excellent conversations covering various topics, which I won't be able to cover in this write-up. Nonetheless, all the discussions were valuable and worth the time.

Our customer meetings were the highlight for me. The conversations with the companies that sat down with us gave me some real insight into how they look at their networks, how their decision-making process works, and their challenges. The GS&A Core Networking team did a fantastic job showing the value of WWT and really opened the customers' eyes to how we can help them with their technology investments.

John Chiarini, Technical Solutions Architect - Optical & Core Routing

Connecting with peers, partners, and various Cisco leaders has always been a highlight at Cisco Live. This year, we had very productive meetings about go-to-market strategies and how we can work together to win more customers. We met with Cisco leaders from the Routing, Optical, and Automation business units, focusing on the continued adoption of routing and optical convergence and developing cohesive tools for management and automation.

It was also a highlight to spend time as a team with our most recent services partner, Vayu Group. Vayu provides us with deep post-sales technical capabilities and strategic business positioning. To highlight our partnership and capabilities, we had internal strategy sessions and selective sessions with Cisco leaders. 

A personal highlight was the opportunity to present at Cisco Live in the World of Solutions. I presented an overview of routing and optical convergence, network assurance and management, and our partnership with Cisco. I also highlighted WWT's unique capabilities in providing core networking solutions for our customers. 

Finally, Cisco Live isn't Cisco Live without learning sessions. My technical focus has been routing, network management, and automation. Hearing from experts in these fields and learning about practical use cases and industry direction has always been a highlight.

Curt Wagner, Core Networking Sales Advisor

Cisco Live 2024 was not only a valuable learning experience, but also a fantastic opportunity to connect with industry peers. Social networking at the event facilitated connecting with other attendees and partners who share my interests and areas of expertise. This allowed me to exchange ideas, network with potential collaborators, and build relationships that can extend well beyond the event. 

The event reinforced the future of networking lies in Artificial Intelligence (AI). The focus has shifted beyond just network infrastructure, with companies seeking solutions that integrate security, data visibility, and powerful analytics. This holistic approach, powered by AI, allows businesses to leverage AI across their entire digital ecosystem and potentially unlock new areas of innovation. This trend has the potential to revolutionize networking, empowering businesses of all sizes to optimize operations.

The event highlighted the growing need for network automation and orchestration. While AI can increase network awareness of events, the ability to control devices and act is crucial. This underscores the importance of solutions that manage, automate, and orchestrate network elements alongside AI integration. 

Cisco's emphasis on open and flexible platforms stood out. This allows customers to choose how they deploy and integrate data across various environments (on-premises, hybrid, or multi-cloud). The acquisition of Splunk further strengthens this approach. Their combined solution aims to deliver a unified data platform for ingesting data from various sources, empowering Security and IT teams to gain deeper insights and make better networking decisions.

Tyler Tappy, Technical Solutions Architect - Optical Networking

Cisco Live is always a great opportunity to connect with customers, key partners, and esteemed Cisco leadership.  We were fortunate enough to join strategy sessions with Cisco optical, routing, and automation leadership.  We discussed the overall market strategy, the adoption of AI in core networking, and the continued convergence of optical and packet technologies.  I find these sessions invaluable, as there aren't many opportunities to have hard-hitting sessions to help drive the market landscape and offer candid feedback. 

I found class sessions focused heavily on routed optical networking, which is somewhat expected, but it was nice to have classes focused on round table discussions. During these sessions, Cisco will highlight a topic like RON, which focuses on going around the room, providing feedback, and having more interactive discussions.  The best part is listening to each partner and customer experience, allowing for a more balanced understanding of the topic.

The world of solutions is additionally an excellent opportunity to learn and understand more about what's happening in the industry.  I took part in a walk-through lab focused on Cisco HCO and was able to speak directly to some of the software architects.  Through this we can provide our unique experience and provide feedback on the good and bad of the solution. 

Overall, it was another great experience, and I am looking forward to joining again!

What did you think of Cisco Live 2024? Share your takeaways in the comments.