So I’m running way behind, considering I didn’t even attempt to do a brief list of topics to recap for Day Three, and now I’m sitting here eight hours before I fly back home. Here are my expanded thoughts on Day Two.
A. UCS Deep Dive Session
This was an early morning session and I really enjoyed it. The way I describe my experience level with UCS is that I know enough about it to know I need to know more, and this session not only proved that, but it taught me some of the more I need to know. I can’t really assess how deep a dive this session was, as even a “kiddie pool” dive would have been deep enough for me, but I can say that the speaker, Jeff Silberman, did a great job and delivered a session that was sometimes just out of my reach experience-wise (and especially networking knowledge-wise), but I’d rather that be the case than have it be easy to keep up with. One thing Jeff really drove home is how critical using boot from SAN is in fully realizing the benefits of UCS, and I’m going to talk with the guys at work that inherited direct management of UCS in a recent re-org about it, as I believe our UCS blades were originally setup to boot off the local disks.
The other interesting point Jeff closed with is how everything in UCS extends from its API, and that what I think of as UCS Manager, the Java applet, and even the UCS Powershell provider, weren’t hand coded – they were generated automatically from the API. Pretty slick.
This was the John Chambers keynote. Since that day I’ve spoken to a few people who have attended many Cisco Live conferences and they all had glowing things to say about John Chambers. One guy I spoke with today said he wished we saw more of him outside of this event, talking about his vision for the industry and technology, and I have to say I agree. I’ve never really been a fan of CEO keynotes, partly because I see so many, especially at big shows, obviously trying to mimic the Steve Jobs style with one huge difference – they’re not Steve Jobs. So I usually find keynotes kinda ho-hum boring, and sometimes even sadly goofy. This John Chambers keynote was different. He’s obviously no Steve Jobs, but he’s something else, something real (seeming – of course I don’t really know him) – he’s himself. I sat close enough to see him without aid of the big screens; you can spot phony from that distance, and I didn’t see any. Don’t get me wrong – he’s an accomplished speaker and a bit of a showman – anybody doing keynotes that big has to be, but from where I was sitting, the show he was putting on was one he lived and breathed, not something he or a team of writers dreamed up to make everybody want to buy more stuff from Cisco.
I think this keynote was the most surprising aspect of Cisco Live for me. I actually tweeted after he wrapped up, “Why is this server jockey so excited by this
#CLUS keynote? I see what I need to learn more about to make my next career advance.” (As an aside, if you’ve read one or two of my longer posts or heard me speak in person, do you have any idea how crazy it makes me to try to communicate in 140 characters. Twitter, I hate you and love you.) I’ll expand on that by saying I left that keynote thinking I need to readjust the venn diagram of my career path and experience to make sure I pull more networking into it, and specifically more of some of the awesome things Cisco is producing.
C. GE’s FlexPod session
This session was really good. I walked into it prepared to sit and politely listen while some executive too far from working with real tech talked in vague terms about what some geeks who worked for him had done. But I went, because it was about FlexPod. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the speaker, GE’s Principal Technologist Steve Fearn, may well have teams of geeks working for him, but he’s also a real geek himself. He proved that during the session, handling questions put to him not only by the NetApp and Cisco execs speaking with him, but also from the audience. But he proved it even more during the hour or more I got to spend chatting with him at a Tweet-n-Greet after his session. I was impressed and frankly a little intimidated when he rattled off the facts about the enormity and variety of the environments for which he is responsible. I guess I knew GE was a really really big business, but there’s knowing they make lightbulbs and kitchen appliances and some other stuff, then there’s seeing how many countries they’re in, and some of the data centers they have in those counties, and how Steve’s team ranks them.
Steve laid out details about the private cloud GE has deployed. I was most impressed by the self-service Dev on Demand portal they’ve deployed on FlexPod. I’ve known this sort of thing was possible, but seeing it up close, the thought they put into it, and especially the the level of adoption, was very interesting. I recall one slide he showed that detailed the churn rate of the development VM’s, the number of deletions over a period of time. It basically demonstrated the developer customers he was servicing were making highly efficient use of the system – requesting/provisioning systems, using them, and getting rid of them.
Another point about GE’s Dev on Demand portal that wowed me was the average time to deployment of the virtual resources – twelve minutes. Especially when you’re working on the scale they work at, automation is key.
D. Chatting with folks during the day
The Tweet-n-Greet I attended from 3PM to almost 5PM was great. I got to talk with Steve Fearn from GE, Amy Lewis and Josh Atwell from Cisco, and Friea Berg and Pamela Kerman from NetApp. Steve and I each did a quick video with Josh, Cisco’s Roving Reporter, although I haven’t had the guts to go watch mine since I know I had at least one super awkward pause when I got nervous looking at Josh’s iPhone being held a few feet away by Amy Lewis. Those conversations were great, especially swapping tech war stories with Steve, and discussion of Citrix, VMware, View, and XenDesktop.
Later that night, I met up with 47 other people at the Cisco Data Center Tweetup at Brian’s 24 – an absolutely amazing gathering organized by Amy Lewis (@CommsNinja) and open to everyone who wanted to stop by. We were packed in pretty tightly so I didn’t get to circulate and talk to many people, but I had a great time. I ended up at a table with several guys from VCE and EMC and I have to say this – for all the snark that flies over Twitter, they were pretty good guys to hang out with. I had a great conversation with Aaron Patten and we did the geek equivalent of pulling out a wallet full of pictures of our kids – we flipped through photos on our respective iPhones. I also did something I’ve wanted to do for a long time now – I met Jeremiah Dooley. Jeremiah was one of the first bloggers I started to follow a few years ago when I was taking my first steps onto Twitter and I remember showing his series on his home lab to my wife, as well as the picture of his daughter with one of the lab nodes she helped put together. My wife and I had been trying to have a child for almost two years at that point, and I remember thinking, “this is another one of those things that will be so cool about being a dad – encouraging my child to be a geek even at a young age.” Anyway, I met Jeremiah and even though it was intimidating because he’s like seven feet tall, it was cool.
As an aside, something that I loved having confirmed over and over again this week was how quick other dads are to whip out their phones and show off pictures of their kids.
That’s about all I can remember of Day Two of Cisco Live. I’ll move onto Day Three next. Here’s a pic of me, Steve Fearn from GE, and Patrick Rogers from NetApp.