Speaking from my grand experience of going to 4 actual “conferences”, I wanted to throw my opinion in the ring about the upcoming Cisco Live 2018 in Orlando Florida, sometime in June.
I’m not going.
I could, maybe, but after going back and forth, and some conversations with my boss, I pulled my request and decided to forgo going to Cisco Live.
For the second straight year. Why you ask? Good question.
I went to Cisco Live 2015 in San Diego and it blew my mind. It was an amazing experience, unlike anything I had ever been to or seen in my entire life. There were 30,000+ networking/wireless/security/developers/executives all in one place. The exhibition hall, otherwise known as “The World of Solutions” had more vendors than I could take in over the course of the three days or so that it was open. The number of sessions that were available to sign up for was crazy. The customer appreciation event was awesome! Who wouldn’t like Aerosmith in Petco Park? I had such a great time that when Cisco Live 2016 registration opened up, I jumped at the chance to go again.
I went to Cisco Live 2016 in Las Vegas and it was an amazing experience. There were 30,000+ networking/wireless/security/developers/executives all in one place. The exhibition hall, otherwise known as “The World of Solutions” had more vendors than I could take in over the course of the three days or so that it was open. The number of sessions that were available to sign up for was crazy. The customer appreciation event was awesome! Different act in a different venue, but still really cool. At the end of Live 2016, I realized one thing.
With the exception of the customer appreciation event, everything was the same! The classes I attended? The same presenters with almost the exact same slide deck. The wireless specific classes were almost exact. Great guys, don’t get me wrong, but almost the same thing. Technical classes that I went into with great expectations? Sales pitches.
Advanced RTLS with CMX 10.2? Sales pitch.
How to use Prime Infrastructure 2.2 (then) to manage your network? Sales pitch.
Wi-Fi radio basics with Fred Niehaus (@OhioFred but he never tweets)? Love me some Fred but it was almost the same with the new AP model thrown in for good measure.
The 30,000+ attendees? Not a great place to meet new people at lunch. Hell, we had problems finding the people that we wanted to meet up with, let alone anyone new. Sat down for lunch with a bunch of security focused people who looked at a couple of wireless guys like the enemy. Granted, we looked at them the same, so it was a pretty even staring match, but no free flow of information.
Now this may come as a surprise to some people, but my current working condition doesn’t allow for much travel. Working for the ‘port, not the ‘line, offers zero flight benefits. 20% of our current team, if not more, work here simply to reduce their travel time. Seems counter-intuitive but it’s true. Now, if you have read some of my previous blogs, you have an idea of how we (My buddy Mike and I) found WLPC and CWNP, and it was after this discovery that we decided with our limited travel budgets and opportunities, there was something better for a couple of wireless guys to go to who have already had enough fun in Las Vegas at 2 AM.
During the last WLPC in Phoenix, I was able to answer my 2 pressing questions, and get much more insight, during meal times and after hour events than I ever got at Cisco Live. I’m still waiting on a call back from the TAC person I met with in 2016 about my PoE issue on a Catalyst 3850 switch. (I’m actually not waiting any more, but you get the idea.) At both Wi-Fi Trek (CWNP conference) and WLPC I was able to take an actual class for three days on my wireless topic of choice for that trip. 4 hour deep dive on the ASR series routers? I’ll pass, thank you.
For those of you who have unlimited travel / training opportunities, then I say go for it. On my list of events to attend, Cisco Live ranks third behind WLPC and CWNP. It’s not bad, until you realize that for wireless folks the ROI just isn’t there.
Want to take a Cisco WIDEPLOY class at a conference? Don’t bother going to Cisco Live, go to the conferences where your ROI is measured by something other than your BAC.