Cisco Live 2008 was held at the Orange County Convention Centre in Orlando USA this year. The annual Networkers event has now become a part of Cisco Live. This year, the Cisco Live event counted over 11000 conference attendees, a total of some 700 sessions (400 unique sessions), and almost 200 exhibitors at the World of Solutions exposition. It was an awesome event that ran from 22nd to 26 June. The event theme is The Power of Collaboration, and this theme is quite evident throughout the conference.
There was plenty to see and hear at the World of Solutions expo. There was also lots to eat and drink, because desserts and evening receptions were held in the expo hall. Exhibitors had too many freebies to give away. The most popular lucky draw prizes were clearly the iPod Touch, Xbox 360 and Nintento Wii. I came across an iPhone 3G prize too, which would only be available to the winner after Apple’s official launch of course.
There were three keynote sessions: First by John Chambers, second by Padmasree Warrior, and third but not least by Ben Stein. Ben Stein was hilarious. He seemed to be very thirsty for tea, and his cup of tea had to be refilled a few times while he was on stage. I didn’t find the keynotes particularly awesome actually; They were great, but not “wow” enough. In fact, I thought what was more awesome was the amount of tech that went into the show floor: too many moving lights to count, LED and humongous projection screens all over the place. It was like going to a rock concert.
Conference sessions where held on 4 levels of the humongous West Concourse of the Orange County Convention Centre. All areas, including inside the session rooms, were well covered by 802.11 wireless LAN. There were also plenty of power strips in the session rooms. This is important, because we all need juice for our notebooks. Why do we need to use our notebooks during the sessions? Well, that’s how we access conference materials (the slides and handouts) as they were only available online and in USB thumb drives given during registration. Yes, it saves tons of paper. Even if you don’t care about going green, at the very least you’d still appreciate less weight and bulk to cart home.
There were almost 400 unique conference sessions. It is so many that choosing which to attend became quite a challenge. The online website even had an automatic scheduling system to help you organize a schedule based no interests you’ve selected and priorities you’ve assigned. Sessions covered different technical depths: Introductory, intermediate and advanced.
The theme of collaboration was everywhere. Many things in the conference were very dynamic and real-time. For example, people were invited during the keynote sessions to text in responses to certain questions. Answers were displayed right away on the projection screens. Attendees were share their thoughts and experiences through a Video Blog (VLog), and clippings were screened on display monitors in common areas, and also before the start of keynote sessions. Professional video crew (at least they looked professional) roamed around to capture activities of the conference. Videos from the customer appreciation event held last night were already being streamed on the display monitors this morning.
I observed many Apple notebook users here. There weren’t that many MacBook Airs, but plenty of MacBooks and MacBook Pros. For the first time, I get to see such a big crowed of networked computers in Mac OS X’s Finder window. Some of them even showed up in my iPhoto folder list (with photos to share). Similarly, a bunch of people found in iChat’s Bonjour list. Very nice to see Apple notebooks making inroads into network people. (Previously at LISA conference, I observed a very clearly more significant proportion of Apple notebooks in sight, signifying a greater success of Apple notebooks reaching UNIX system administrators.)
One of the things I was looking forward to see was how the organizers were going to manage the over 11K conference attendees. You can imagine it is a significant logistical challenge. The Networkers in Australia, which I had been several times, were amazingly well organized. Although they are not as big, but the numbers are still sizable. The overall event organization couldn’t be more perfect.
The Orlando event is no doubt going to be more difficult. Overall, I think it was all extremely well done. My experience with Networkers in Australia led me to expect too high a standard which is almost impossible to manage with a crowd over 11K strong. So, I think the Orlando team did extremely well too. There was hardly any queuing (the queues were well distributed and moved fast enough), and there was no lack of food and drinks. There are so many event staff around to help.
- Checking In To Cisco Live
- Free Food, Beer and Wine
- The Cisco iPhone
- Preview of Nokia E66 and E71
- Cisco Live at Universal Studios Florida
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