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Impressions from Cisco Live! Europe 2016 in Berlin

I had the opportunity to attend Cisco Live! Europe 2016 (CLEUR!), held February 15-19 in Berlin. A combination of meetings with customers and partners provided for some fortuitous Europe-bound timing. This wasn’t my first time to Live! but it was my first time to Live! in Europe. I’ve always liked Live! as an opportunity to […]

I had the opportunity to attend Cisco Live! Europe 2016 (CLEUR!), held February 15-19 in Berlin. A combination of meetings with customers and partners provided for some fortuitous Europe-bound timing. This wasn’t my first time to Live! but it was my first time to Live! in Europe. I’ve always liked Live! as an opportunity to survey a broad spectrum of technological developments while also having the opportunity of zeroing in on some very specific topics with industry experts. I looked forward to the experience of CLEUR! not only for the opportunity to take a closer look at new technologies, but also to see how it compared to Live! in the U.S., and solidify existing relationships while making new, international connections.

The venue for CLEUR! was the Messe Berlin on the western outskirts of the city. Berlin, of course, is a fascinating city with lots of history. I had visited Berlin once before, the year the Berlin wall had come down, so it was fun and interesting to return many years later to see the modern, unified, thriving European capital.

Venue for Cisco Live Europe 2016 in Berlin, Germany Venue for Cisco Live Europe 2016 in Berlin, Germany

I deliberately arrived early for the conference in order to spend time in the CLEUR! DevNet zone, and also to take a free Cisco exam while on site – an obligatory action item considering my engineering background and the fact that GTRI is a Cisco Gold Partner.

It would be a huge task to list every topic, trend and announcement from CLEUR!, so I’ll highlight just a few of my impressions from the event.


Monday was dedicated to DevNet and CLEUR! featured numerous seminars, workshops, hackathons, demos and competitions focused on software development with and around the Cisco product portfolio. For me, this was undoubtedly the biggest takeaway from CLEUR!

DevNet Zone at Cisco Live Europe 2016 DevNet Zone at Cisco Live Europe 2016

If you do not have some level of development expertise, along with a DevOps mindset within the context of Cisco solutions, you are not tooled right for the future of the industry. Whether it’s programmatic control of the network, integrating the Cisco Collaboration portfolio into business applications, leveraging the Internet of Things for automation, optimization, and decision making, big data analytics, or any of the infinite use cases – without software development capabilities you are limited with respect to the customer problems you can solve and solutions you can provide.

Understanding programming and application development – at least at some non-rudimentary level – is quickly becoming indispensable for network engineers at any level. DevNet provides a great learning opportunity and platform for developing and applying these skills.


“Disrupt or be Disrupted” banners were all over the CLEUR! Expo halls. A fascinating forum took place on Day 1 with speakers from companies who have adopted DevOps at some level. Participants from Hashicorp, SAP, Morpheus and Docker shared some of their experiences in embracing DevOps.

DevOps panel at Cisco Live Europe 2016 DevOps panel at Cisco Live Europe 2016

There is no standstill or comfortable lead in any business – not even for masters of disruption like the Ubers or Amazons of the world who are masters at disrupting themselves. In order to disrupt, one needs to adopt a mindset and culture that is conducive for thriving – not just surviving – in the modern, nimble, connected, digitally disrupted economy.

DevOps is at the heart of the disrupting enterprise. It can be difficult to precisely define, it can’t be bought and it’s difficult to adopt, but without DevOps you’ll be on the disrupted side of the equation rather the disrupting side. “DevOps or die!” is the clear message businesses, partner organizations and network engineers must heed.

Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is not only here, it’s here to stay. It’s growing exponentially (to the tune of 20 billion connected devices by 2020, according to Gartner), and we’ve only scratched the surface with respect to IoT applications and the benefits we can reap from it.

Cisco’s recent acquisition of Jasper (announced just days before CLEUR!) solidifies Cisco’s position and solution portfolio in the IoT space beyond just infrastructure. Jasper is the largest platform of scale in IoT today, with more than 3500 enterprise customers along with nearly 30 service providers across the globe.

CLEUR! provided numerous opportunities for hands on programming labs focused on IoT and, while nothing specific with Jasper was available “hands on” at the conference, the labs and sessions provided a deep – and fun – window into the near endless possibilities of IoT.


CLB_IMG_4700 One of the fun IoT labs provided for controlling a model train using feedback from various sensors


Security is the one thing that transcends every technology stack. So it’s not surprising that one of the biggest announcements at CLEUR! was the introduction of the FirePower 4100 Next Generation Firewall. Cisco has been very active in the security space, and through development, acquisitions – OpenDNS, Lancope and Portcullis in just the last six months – and services offerings (also announced at CLEUR! was a new Segmentation Service offering), the company has solidified its position as an end to end, integrated, enterprise security solution provider.

The FirePower 4100 Next Generation firewall is another building block in the Cisco security stack. It is fully integrated (works with ISE, AMP Threat Grid, and the Cisco security continuum) and threat centric (security functions pre-, active-, and post attack) with a unified management interface.


The one thing every Live! attendee experiences is the dilemma of not being able to attend every interesting session or event. There are just way too many great breakout sessions in addition to other offerings such as Meet the Engineer, extensive labs, certification testing, World of Solutions, DevNet zone, social events, etc. Fortunately many of the sessions are recorded and provided online after the event. And while I always recommend attending Live! in person – if for no other reason than being able to turn on your out-of-office message and focus on the plethora of content at the event – you can find recorded sessions and keynotes and other clips online.


Find more photos from Cisco Live! Europe 2016 on GTRI’s Facebook page.

Thomas Maier is Director of Integrated Solutions for GTRI.

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