Hamilton Barnes at Cisco Live Barcelona 2019

The Networking Event of the year took place this year in Barcelona and as a Recruitment Consultancy specialising in this niche space, we had to be there. Alas, not all of the HB team could attend this fantastic event, so we sent George, James and Chris over to Cisco Live Barcelona along with thousands more of attendees.  To be rubbing shoulders with experts from the giant vendor and learning about new technologies being launched from Cisco, was something that we were counting the days down to.

After a morning in the office, our Cisco Live team headed on up to Stansted to make their way over to Cisco Live Europe 2019!

First impressions

The sheer size of the event was truly impressive, with hundreds of stands in the World of Solutions area, we had great fun wandering around the interactive stands.

It’s no great surprise when attending any kind of event, once you are inside you are a captive audience and unless, you’ve packed yourself a picnic lunch and plenty of snacks, you are usually at the mercy of the food and drink sellers scattered around you.  Not at Cisco Live! You’ve paid for your ticket to go and once you’ve stepped foot inside, everything is free, food and drink is available to you.  There are vending machines spotted all around full of snack and drinks, and it’s all free.   

Wandering around we were really impressed with technologies being demonstrated and one or two stood out.

Cisco WebEx

Facial recognition is a new technology that we are seeing more and more.  Simply by looking at your phone (depending on which one you have), you can unlock your phone gain access to your apps and purchase things online.  This Facial Recognition technology is also going to be integrated into WebEx.  We were shown a demonstration of how it would work with George being asked to look up to a screen and move his head all around so the facial recognition software could build the image of his face.  Following that he was then told to walk in front of another screen, which then came up with a ‘Welcome George Barnes’ message.  Since George had his name tag on, it had also picked up his name.  The addition to this in WebEx means that if you are involved in a video meeting, you won’t have to sign-in to the meeting, it will know who you are as soon as you sit down and prior to meetings it will send notes to you about the other the participants, for example sharing their LinkedIn Profile etc.

Cisco Certification area

We were also impressed with the opportunity for engineers to be offered one free Certification exam.  This service was in our ‘tips for first time visitors’ to Cisco Live, that we published a few weeks prior to the event.

Technology Seminars

We were taken aback with the sheer volume of seminars available to attend.  There were halls of different rooms with lectures taking place about different technologies.  Prior to your visit a timetable is released for you to make sure you don’t miss the lecture you would like to go along to.  The types of lectures that were taking place were so varied and one that caught our eye was ‘What’s it like to be a Network Engineer in a Programming world’.  Incredibly apt for todays Network Engineer.

Meet the Engineer

This was a service that really impressed us.  You can book a session with any Cisco Engineer or with an Exec for half an hour, allowing you to ask advice on any Network problems that you may need help with.  Information about which Engineers were available outlining what their individual area of expertise was made available for you.  This enabled you to look up to see which engineer would best suit your needs.  It may be that you want to understand a bit more about a new piece of technology Cisco have released.  Maybe it’s something you have purchased but you don’t really understand how to implement it into your current infrastructure, or perhaps it’s a troubleshooting issue or design problem.  Whatever it was, you had the chance to speak to the ‘masters’ of those areas for 30 minutes to give you the advice you needed.

DevNet Zone

This was one of the biggest zones there.  There were lots of talk about Network Development and the desire to automate networks.   This was a fantastically interactive zone with lots of coding games for people to have a go at.  One example was that they had a number of drones and the challenge was to write a programme to instruct the drone to fly up, move left and right, move forward and back, turn around etc.  It would begin with them giving you a quick lesson in development and then it was up to you to take what you had learnt and do some coding.  Another great game was the Domino’s game…Domino’s as in the Pizza chain.  On a screen, you would select the pizza you wanted and then your challenge was to Match the Cisco Services to the correct functions.  There would be a board with different ports, the bottom half would have a list of 8 functions and the top half would have a list of 8 services that you would have to match up via a network cable. You would have 8 to match against a timer and once you solved all 8 problems you got your pizza….which was a pizza shaped USB…not a large Pepperoni!  Have a look at the game in action here.

Chris and James in the Domino’s section. George on the right is trying his hand at the game…ready for his CCIE? You decide!

This whole area was a big hit for us!  Not being hands-on technical within our jobs, it was an area where we got to have a go ourselves.

We had a go at the crazy golf, they also had a free massage room there. If you fancied a Smoothie, you picked your ingredients but then you had to drive the motor for the mixer to work….by cycling! Naturally the competitiveness came out with who could blend their smoothie the quickest. You can watch them in action here.

They had Meraki swings, table tennis tables, normal shapes and box ones, then triangular ones where you could play off the walls and circular ones too.

There was also virtual reality to indulge in.  You could walk along a slow-moving walk way with a pair of Virtual Reality glasses on, and it would transport you to San Francisco and you’d be walking across the Golden Gate bridge.  

What we got up to on Tuesday

This is the day we went along to the keynotes.  Where the exciting announcement happen, all the latest technologies are released.  6,500 people were seated in the arena, 35,000 people streamed it on YouTube.  There was entertainment for people to watch consisting of Jugglers and an amazing celloist who with the art of ‘looping’, managed to create and play Viva La Vida by Coldplay…just stunning.

We were really impressed with the talk on IoT. With the ongoing launch of devices being able to connect to networks and for different actions to be automated, there is a need for Networking equipment to be located in areas outside of a datacentre. Cisco talked about their Rugged series, to accommodate this positioning of equipment outside of datacentres, they are tougher, waterproof and can be placed in places such as on top of Pylons for electricity management as they are waterproof and robust. 

There was a fascinating talk of the ‘datacentre everywhere’ – The current mindset is that all data is stored in the ‘datacentre’, you then must have a link back to the ‘datacentre’. Now they are redefining this and meeting the demand that we need our ‘data everywhere’.  By utilising cloud infrastructure and collaborating with AWS and Azure, your ‘datacentre’ can effectively follow you around wherever you go. The big message we got from the talk was that Cisco DNA will be at the forefront of it, called DNA Centre, with full integration with AWS and Azure, making it easy for people to access their data wherever they may be. By this collaborative way of working together in harmony, the big 3 can work together providing the best service for customers.

Cisco Hyper Flex was also another interesting talk.  They have built a function that will allow you to drag and drop and infrastructure from one site to another site. For example, if you have an office in London with all the infrastructure in place and you wanted to open an office in Paris, using this function, you can literally drag and drop the infrastructure of the London office to the Paris location.  Effectively, you could create office Network infrastructures in numerous global locations within a matter of minutes resulting in you be able to scale up your business in record time.  An example they gave was of an infrastructure designed with over 55,000 scripts within it.  Rather that having to recreate those scripts over and over, this function sped the whole process up.

They also spoke about MPLS and how they planned to shelf it in the medium to long term and replace it with SDWAN.

Fiesta in Barcelona

There are of course many social events that happen during Cisco Live and on Tuesday night we hosted our own Fiesta in the Fira Congress Hotel that was right across the road from the main event.  One or two beers were enjoyed, and needless to say, there were one or two sore heads the next day.It was a great end to a day where we were fortunate enough to meet up with those we already knew and meet some new faces too!

Our time at Cisco Live was short, but we were thoroughly impressed by what we saw and the people we met. The event itself was well organised and well thought through, the staff were friendly and helpful and the atmosphere was electric. Technology and Networking is progressing at the speed of light and we are in for exciting times as these innovations take shape and precedence in our everyday working and personal lives.

You can have watch of the Opening keynote highlights here: CISCO Live Europe