Cisco Live Melbourne has come and gone for another year and this year was without a doubt the best of all the years I’ve attended so far. This was my 3rd year at CLMEL (#CLMEL) and it was an action packed week. At previous events I’ve been primarily going to the breakout sessions and giving myself a migraine from the amount of information I tried to chug through. This year I went in community mode. Being a Cisco Champion I was lucky to be able to partake in some special events, get some nice perk treatment such as prime seats for the keynote and also to interact with the other Cisco Champions. The number of Cisco Champions for Australia in 2017 has seen a significant increase and it’s heavily loaded towards Melbourne so CLMEL provided the ideal opportunity to meet new people.

CL-Mel-Champs

Last year there were no real events so it was great to see some special Cisco Champions events organised and allow the Champions to meet up. This year Veritas, the events organisers, were on hand to assist with the Cisco Champion events throughout the week. A massive thank you to Freya for keeping things in check throughout the few days. A huge thank you also goes to Brandon Prebynski and Lauren Friedman of the Cisco Champions program for getting everything organised on the back end. The value added to the program during Cisco Live this year cannot be underestimated.

The first order of business on Day 1, Tuesday, was the Data Centre Innovation Day. This session provided an inside look at the upcoming technology roadmap for data centre tech. The Data Centre Innovation Day is by invite only and was organised for me by Lauren Friendman (massive thanks for that). I found the information on the upcoming  roadmaps for UCS Compute, UCS Central and UCS Director platforms. I can’t divulge anything as it was under NDA but I can say some of it is pretty cool. One thing they did discuss which I can mention is the new interoperability matrix tool which has been updated to make it easier to search compatibility requirements. I haven’t played around with it yet but will most likely be using it for my next planned upgrade.

I also met Rasika, another Cisco Champion, during one of the session breaks. We were sharing a panel the following day in the Cisco Think Tank around ‘Social Media and it’s Influence’ and it was great to meet him prior to the event. This was one of the events organised via the Cisco Champions program. I’m the one listed as ‘CSL’ 🙂

cisco-think-tank
That night we held our monthly Data Center User Group session which saw an immense turnout and we also had the privilege of some top-notch speakers in town as part of CLMEL present to the group.

Day 2 was a full on day as a Champion. There was an initial meeting prior the the keynote for all Cisco Champions and we were then led to priority seating within touching distance of the stage. Usually I’m up in the nose-bleed section for the keynote so it was interesting to hear the message being delivered from close quarters. It was also an opportunity to get to know the other champions a bit better.

cisco-champions-row
Following the keynote it was a Tweetup where we sat down with Peter Jones and listened to some great stories and got some good advice on careers and where the networking industry is going. It was both a pleasure and a privilege to meet Peter, he’s the guy behind the Cisco C3850. Given that we’ve just racked some in our data centre for a rollout of a new manufacturing network meant meeting him was even more relevant.

Prior to the Think Tank session we were asked to record some content for the daily highlights show. Talking on camera is not my forte, and I was nervous beyond belief. I’m very aware of my accent (heavy Irish accent) and that I can mumble from time to time so the whole thing felt like more of a chore. As with all of these opportunities you really have to step up and do them so that next time it’s easier and it’s great experience. It’s about being outside your comfort zone and developing your skills.

Next up was the Think Tank session which was really daunting. The discussion was around personal brand in social media. When I downloaded the Cisco Live Events app this year I noticed that I was listed as a speaker which was an incredible buzz. Peter Jones was the compere and he asked some really great questions. He also coaxed us in the right direction when both Rasika and I went off on a tangent. It was truely nerve-racking to sit there and answer questions I couldn’t really prepare for in front of an audience of people I didn’t know. I have to say that having Chris Partsenidis there in support us what really made it all ok. After 20 minutes (felt like a lot longer) our time was up and I could look back on the experience with fresh, and less anxious, eyes. It was a great learning experience and it will help me get over my fear of presenting and public speaking.

think-tank-session
Following the Think Tank session life returned to normal. I attended one Partner Theatre session, that of ScienceLogic, and within 30 minutes of its conclusion I got an email advising I won a prize. Truth be told I was expecting a free t-shirt or baseball cap. Eh….not so much. I was lucky to be the recipient of a new Fitbit Charge 2. Sweet! The last part of the day was spent with a colleague at a nearby bar with a celebratory pint and then back to check out the World of Solutions.

CLMEL-Prize
The rest of the week was relatively quiet from a Cisco Champion perspective. Chris had his Think Tank session on Thursday which was around the same topic I had the previous day. I spent the rest of the week in various breakout sessions and just taking time to interact with people on the various stands. The best session I went to was BRKIOT-2130 – Anatomy of Modern Process Control Networking Infrastructure with Michael Boland (Distinguished Systems Engineer, Cisco). Despite the calm there was still some serious twitter action going on.  My personal favourite quotes for the week were:

On the Friday morning I made my way over to the Partner Theatre session of a fellow Cisco Champion, Craig Waters, who was presenting on behalf of Pure Storage around the FlashStack solution. The guest keynote following this was one of the highlights of the week. Ahn Do and Dianne McGrath are both exceptional people. Ahn Do told a touching and funny tale of his life and how his family came to Australia. They asked the audience to provide questions for Dianne McGrath. This keynote was hands down the best keynote I’ve been to. It just had a human touch.

Post CLMEL I spent the evening with the family. I got to hang out with these two and after hearing Ahn Do’s story it reminded me to really appreciate what I have.

Overall Cisco Live Melbourne as a Cisco Champion was a massively educational, developmental and inspirational experience. For Cisco Champions attending other events I’d highly recommend just getting involved. Get out of your comfort zone, put yourself front and center and have fun. You won’t regret it. I’m looking forward already to next year and harbour envy for those that can attend CLUS. Below are some photos from Cisco Live, enjoy!

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