Day Three (Wednesday) of Cisco Live for me was great, although it was a long, long, long day. I had to be at the Marriott by the Convention Center by 7:30, which meant for me to feel comfortable I needed to plan to be there by 7:15, and work backwards to include the regular but not entirely predictable shuttle schedule, as well as my own slow dragging around the hotel room in the morning. Oh, did I mention I was out until after 11PM attending the Cisco Data Center Tweetup?
The first item on my agenda for the day was a customer appreciation meeting put on by NetApp. It was nice, as I got to see Steve Fearn from GE again, and I got to meet Bart Falzarano from the Walz Group. Bart and the Walz Group are doing some awesome stuff with FlexPod and Cloupia, a product about which I definitely want to learn more.
B. Private Meeting with NetApp & Cisco
I also had an early meeting with a couple of folks from NetApp and one from Cisco, and we discussed our FlexPod deployment, and what could be done to improve the FlexPod offering. I still had the conversation with Bart about Cloupia on my mind, so I mentioned that an integrated or bundled cloud management tool would be great.
C. Technology Keynote
Next up for me was the Cisco Technology Keynote, delivered by Cisco CTO Padmasree Warrior. While I wasn’t pulled into this keynote quite the way I had been by the one John Chambers delivered, it was good. I especially liked the Chris Young’s talk about security. I think the coolest tidbit was the ability to allow employees, in this case stock traders, to read Twitter in order to keep up with real-time news about the stocks they trade, but not post. ‘Course, I have to wonder why those traders wouldn’t just whip out their iPhones and disable WiFi, then post over their cellular connection.
After the keynote, I walked the half a mile (seemingly) to the other side of the convention hall to have lunch. I don’t think I mentioned it before, so I’ll do so now. The lunches provided during Cisco Live were quite good, and I was very happy to be presented with a number of healthy eating choices. I’ve lost about 30 pounds in the last few months, and I was afraid I’d have trouble keeping up the good work this week, but I didn’t. Plenty of salad, veggies, bread (which I avoided), and a couple of types of reasonably prepared chicken/fish/meat selections.
D. Speaking at the NetApp Booth
After lunch, I headed over to the NetApp booth for my first speaking session of the day at 1:30. They’d emailed me and the other speakers and asked us to show up 15 minutes early, so I tried to be earlier than that. I guess most speakers don’t show up that much early, as the nice folks at the booth seemed pleasantly stunned that I was so early. I was actually there early enough that I was worried nobody would be able to hear me, as there was a gigantic group of people standing shoulder to shoulder, packed all the way from the Statseeker booth right up to the stage in the NetApp booth. Then I remembered they were giving away a Mini Cooper at 12:30 (said I was early) and figured shortly there would be one very happy person and about 300 disappointed ones. I almost kicked myself for not signing up for a chance to win the Mini Cooper, then I consoled myself by deciding my son’s rear-facing car seat couldn’t possibly fit in the back seat.
After the crowd for the Mini Cooper giveaway drained away, a nice lady from NetApp whose name I must admit I cannot recall did a pretty good job of collecting an audience for my booth speaking session. I gave a shorter version of the talk I’d give later that day, with a bit more emphasis on FlexPod and NetApp (it was their booth, after all) and a couple of good cliffhangers meant to bring people to my later session. I think the talk went well, and a couple of folks asked several questions, including the requisite, “Why did you pick XenDesktop over View?” At least one audience member mentioned she’d be getting in touch with me with more questions, since they’re just now going down the virtual desktop/application road, and I look forward to that. I have some other thoughts on speaking, especially as a first-time speaker, but I think I’m going to save those for a separate post.
E. Hanging out in the Social Media Lounge
After my NetApp Booth session, I headed over to the comfortable couches to the far right side of the World of Solutions hall. I got to sit and chat with Jeramiah Dooley (@jdooley_clt) and Josh Atwell (@Josh_Atwell) for a while, and just relax for a few minutes. I took a picture of Jeramiah’s awesome red shoes, as you’ll see below. I eventually got a little restless, though, so I decided to go upstairs and check out the Cisco store before meeting my speaking partner in the Speakers’ Lounge to make sure we were synched up for our session.
The Cisco store was actually pretty impressive. Lots of really nice quality shirts, none of which just jumped out and screamed, “Buy me” but were still pretty nice. Tons of books and certification training materials. Friendly staff. A gadget/wireless networking section I avoided like the plague because I had too much stuff to lug home in the form of free t-shirts and vendor doodads already. I did do the survey, and I fully expect to not win the cool prizes, whatever they were.
F. Main Speaking Session with Citrix
My main speaking session of the day was at 4:00, so I met up with my speaking partner from Citrix, Sean Connelly, at 3:00 in the Speakers’ Lounge. The lounge was another area where Cisco did a great job. Plenty of room to spread out laptops, or in our case, tablets. Cold water and even sodas and ice that I didn’t notice until right before we left, but I snagged a Diet Coke to go. I didn’t hold it against Sean that he used some weird Droid thing and he didn’t hold it against me that I had three Apple-logo devices in sight at all times. Sean and I swapped war stories and amusing anecdotes about sales reps and POC’s. We headed over to our room (21) at 3:45 and got the low-down on the mic and clicker, then waited for people to show up.
Sean kicked off our session, and after doing a general walk-through of Citrix’s desktop virtualization offerings, and particularly the FlexCast model, he handed it over to me. I’ll admit to being a little nervous, but that left me after a minute or so and I just tried to tell the story of the system we’re building at work, why we made the choices we made, what’s worked, what hasn’t, and where we’re going. I’ll go into more detail in another post just about my experiences as a first-time speaker, but I think the session went well, and if the evaluations are any indication, it seemed like the folks who came to listen thought it was valuable as well. I especially enjoyed the Q&A, and if I could find a way to do a whole session with nothing but Q&A, I would. We were the last session of the day, and with the Q&A we ran a little long, wrapping up about 5:15.
G. Customer Appreciation Event
I headed back to my hotel after my session ended, planning on but failing to take a short nap before heading back down to the CAE at the Padres stadium. To say I was blown away by the Customer Appreciation Event would be an understatement. Seeing that many people flood onto the field, into the stands, and elsewhere was impressive. When I first walked in, everywhere I looked, I did a double-take. Yes, that was a ferris wheel. Yes, that was a giant Whack-a-Mole booth. Yes, all of those stands are handing out free beer – too bad I don’t drink beer. And yes, holy crap yes, those buffet-style mass-prepared fish tacos were ten times better than the slop I can get back home in my land-locked state of Tennessee. Seriously, I sampled a little of all the foods, and I would have been happier eating four times as many fish tacos. (As an aside, a buddy and I went to Moe’s for lunch today. I asked the lady behind the counter if they had fish tacos – no, of course they don’t.)
The music was the main event, of course, and it didn’t disappoint. The all-woman Led Zeppelin cover band was quite good. I admitted on Facebook at the time to my friends that I’d never heard of Weezer, so I might as well admit it here as well. They were good, and their songs were catchy. I especially liked the Tiffany cover. Kinda reminded me of They Might Be Giants, which is a good thing.
I left the CAE a little early, or tried to anyway. I walked out of the wrong side of the park, was overwhelmed by the hawking from all the pedicab drivers (riders?) and just decided to follow the big walking crowd, thinking I’d end up finding the buses to go back to the other hotels. What I found, of course, was the convention center. So I had to walk all the way back to the park. At one point I thought about stopping at an ATM to get some cash to just pay a for a pedi-cab ride, but both of the ATM’s I passed had what sure seemed to be “we’re going to rob you now” crowds of scruffy-looking young men hanging out by them. Seeing as I was alone and without my power ring, I decided I could make my way back through the park to the buses on the other side.
That bus ride back to the hotel was a thing of legend, thanks mainly to the absolutely insane bus driver. Unfortunately, virtually none of the stories or jokes he told are really the sort of thing I feel comfortable sending into the Internet Archive with my name attached to them, so you’ll just have to trust me that Day Three of Cisco Live 2012 ended with a lot of belly laughs, at least for the four of us on the Route 3 bus around 11PM.
And here are Jeramiah Dooley’s shoes, as promised.