It’s Time To Register For Cisco Live!

Cisco Live comes once a year and many spend their entire training budget on it in the form of Cisco Learning Credits. To be honest, this used to drive me crazy. Why? Because I own a Cisco Learning Partner training company and those Cisco Learning Credits were designed to be used to purchase training from folks like me. In hindsight I realize the reason I felt that way is because of how I used Cisco Live. For me, Cisco Live wasn’t about the learning, it was about the interaction with my industry peers.

Things have changed since then. I’ve realized that Cisco Live is about a lot of things. It’s not just about the peer interaction, but it’s also about the learning. Let’s look at it this way…

One may have 20 CLC’s. That would equate to roughly about $2000.00. Currently you could enroll for a full conference pass at the rate of $1995 through 02/09/15

or 24 Learning Credits. If you were to come take a CCNA class with me it would run you $3695 or 36 CLC’s for 5-days of training with lab access. Obviously that’s more than a full conference pass at Cisco Live. But what do you get at Cisco Live?


Cisco Live calls training sessions “breakout sessions.” These breakout sessions vary in content and depth, ranging from the most entry level session to expert level. They also cover every discipline from Routing & Switching to Wireless, Data Center and Service Provider. Not only are the presenters pulled from the Cisco ranks, but some of the most distinguished trainers in the world[1] are used as well as trusted partners and industry well-knowns. There are a ton of sessions as well, so if you are a jack of all trades and work in wireless, security, and data center, you can schedule your sessions to get the most bang for your buck. You can literally take a wireless session in the morning and in the afternoon hit an entry level data center session. You can even pay a bit extra and take a 4 or 8 hours technical seminar- perfect for CCIE candidates.


While the hand’s on sessions are not free of charge, they are available. 8-hour lab instruction and 4-hour lab instruction is available throughout the week for 1095 and 695 respectively. Again, by the time you count the cost, you’re probably just leveling out with a 5-day training class[2].

The Networking

Networking with your peers is a constant at Cisco Live. You can spend hours engaging in conversations with one another on all the intricacies of data networking. Couches and tables are found all over the place. This is where Cisco Live brings together folks who may only communicate via the twitters for the entire year. I always look forward to this, and meeting with my pals like @Someclown , @Tonhe , @Fryguy and many others!

The World of Solutions

Vendors, vendors and more vendors! That’s the world of solutions. You could spend hours in here checking out all the products delivered by partners. If you’re into the marketing swag you could grab a bag and fill it a few times over[3]. But seriously, some vendors put a lot of time into the booth and making it a place where you can really get some value. I’m not a fan of the booths that make you sit through a mic’d up 10 minute sales pitch, in fact I think they are worthless, but I do appreciate the ones with gear onsite and the willingness to show me the goods (and I don’t mean the booth babes).


There is so much more.

  • the food
  • the music
  • the friends
  • the customer appreciation event
  • the social events
  • the keynotes
  • the recorded sessions made available afterwards (Cisco Live 365)

Here’s the Thing..

As I mentioned, I own a small training company and I’m more than happy to have you come to a 5-day CCNA class. But still, you can’t deny the value in Cisco Live. So here’s what I’m proposing. Use your training money to head over to Cisco Live this year. Find me while you’re there. The easiest way is via Twitter. When the times comes for you to spend some time in a 5-day class, regardless of the track of the level, just let me know and I’ll work with you on pricing even if it’s delivered by one of my partners. But don’t miss out on Cisco Live trying to choose between the two.

Ready to register? Click the banner below to get there!


  1. I’ve been privileged enough to speak twice at Cisco Live in years past, but I’m really talking about guys like Anthony Sequeira, Scott Morris, Keith Barker, and Jeremy Cioara.  ↩
  2. Actually you’re still saving about 500 bucks.  ↩
  3. This is why I bring my wife!  ↩

Hello mPower!

Well back into the home-lab today for a short discussion on power. Every time I run a class and use my personal lab for demo, my office heats up, and my electric bill increases. I’ve always wanted to implement something like the digital loggers we used back when I was at another training company.

Back then, these were about 3–400 bucks. Great for the labs at work, but not so good for a personal lab. While at yet another company, we used the APC switched power controllers. As you can tell, its still not a “home” type solution. Enter Ubiquiti Networks. They make a cool little power strip that does exactly what I was looking for.

Hello mPower!

mPower is a mFi Controllable Power Outlet. These outlets are both Ethernet and Wi-Fi controllable, with 1,3,6,or 8 outlet form factors. The setup is very simple and the outlet is easy to control.

As you can see below, the outlet mounts flat on a wall (backet included) and each outlet is clearly numbered. The light at the bottom indicates the state of the outlets. Solid yellow indicates factory default mode, flashing blue is connecting to mFi Cloud or Controller, and solid blue indicates connected to mFi Cloud of Controller.


Managing the Outlets

There are two options for management, mFi Cloud and Controller based. I chose to install the controller on a server. You can then log into the controller and pull various bits of information about power consumption, state of each outlet, and even customize a map to indicate the location of each outlet.

To control the outlet you click the icon for the port you want and toggle the power….


Exciting right?

Additionally you can toggle the data seen here:

Create rules to control when things should be shut down.

You can also watch the energy consumption at each port, and tie it back to the spend. An settings tab at the bottom lets you define the cost / kWh.

You can also browse directly to the IP or hostname of the outlet for management.


Overall I feel it was a GREAT buy. I picked up up on amazon for 89.00 each. It’s a fantastic solution for a home lab that you just might want to access while you’re away on a trip. The price is reasonable, and the software is very easy to use. Check it out, and happy labbing!

NFD9 Prep: Cumulus Networks

As I prepare for upcoming Networking Field Day 9 I’ve decided to spend a bit of time looking at the event sponsors before the event, and try to get a sense for what they might have to say. One sponsor is Cumulus Networks.

Cumulus launched in June of 2013 and Co-Founder and CEO, JR Rivers appeared at the Tech Field Day Extra at ONUG in the Fall 2013. Back then they had just announced Cumulus Linux 2.0 with support for the Trident II chipset and they discussed the basics of Cumulus Linux with Tom Hollingsworth, Chris Marget, and Jason Edeleman.

Cumulus Linux

As I spent a bit of time perusing it was very clear that they have a solid offering that is certainly gaining traction, and for good reason.

Mix and Match

One thing I appreciate is that with Cumulus, I can decide which hardware I want, rather than being locked into a specific vendor. You can visit the HCL for specifics on which whitebox or branded box platform you can use. This approach of decoupling the NOS from the hardware is becoming more and more popular these days.

ONIE and Cumulus Linux

You’ll notice as you examine the HCL, that the model number column contains the words “with ONIE.”

What is ONIE and why is it required for each of these models? ONIE is an Open Network Install Environment that allows you to install Cumulus Linux on whitebox hardware [1]. It’s a small linux operating system that boots on a switch and takes you through the install of a vendors network operating system. ONIE is an open source initiative that you can clone from github.

Features of Cumulus Linux

There are a number of new features listed for the 2.5.0 release of Cumulus Linux. Validated Design Guides are available for VMware vSphere and Cumulus Linux, OpenStack and Cumulus Linux, and Big Data and Cumulus Linux. 2.5.0 also introduces active-active Layer 2 configurations with MLAG support, Layer 2 scale with VLAN-aware bridges tested up to 2000 concurent VLANs, and additional features that you can read in the release notes.

Test Drive With Cumulus Workbench

If you’re interested in taking Cumulus for a test drive, they offer a workbench, i.e; a remote lab, that you can access to test. You do have to fill out a form to schedule the time, but why wouldn’t you?

What I’m Looking Forward To

I’m looking forward to seeing Cumulus at NFD9 and likely hearing more about the 2.5 release. I’d also love to get in and kick the tires or at least see how it is to configure it. I know its mostly bash, but what else can I do? Either way, I’m excited to hear what they have to say.

  1. Whitebox hardware refers to switching hardware that is purchased without a network operating system. Quanta is one example of a company that sells whitebox switch hardware.  ↩

Is The 3-Layer Hierarchical Design What Everyone Uses?

I was talking with one of my CCNA Students recently and he asked about the 3-Layer Heirarchical Model that we teach; Access, Distribution, Core. He asked if this is what everyone does. It’s a good question, because when a student is just starting out they generally only know one of two things:

  1. What they do at work.
  2. What the training manual tells them.

As we were talking I could tell that this student didn’t know what was happening at work, but knew that they were running something called SPB. SPB is shortest path bridging. SPB would be used to replace the spanning-tree protool in a data-center Leaf-Spine design. This design is an altertanative to the access/distribution/core design that CCNA students have been learning about for a long time. That’s not to say that the access/distribution/core is not a valid and relevant design. But it has some drawbacks.

So, here’s a little comparison between two different designs.

Access/Distribution/Core vs Leaf-Spine

Take first the image of the access/distribution/core design seen below. This design depicts the access layer at the bottom, the distribution or aggregation in the middle, and the core at the top. The core would take us to other places in the network, like the Internet-edge or WAN. If you are connected to the access-layer and traversing the uplinks, you have two paths to take. Spanning-Tree manages the loop between the access and the distribution layers. This is what a CCNA student learns.

3-Layer Design

Now note the Leaf-spine design seen below. In this design the access-layer is formed as a mesh, with one-hop between each access-layer device. In the above diagrame you are susceptible to bottlenecks where as the that becomes less likely in the leaf-spine design. From the bottom of the image you have the leaf, with the spine in the middle, and the core at the top.

Leaf-Spine Design

There’s more to it of course. The fact that the leaf-spine can be Layer 2 or Layer 3 and so on, however for someone who is just learning what that means, this is probably good enough.


So, the short answer is no. The 3-Layer Hierarchical design is not what everyone uses, however CCNA candidate spend a bit of time examining some older networking concepts for a good reason. Learning concepts like the 3-Layer Hierarchical design helps you to understand why the new designs, like the leaf-spine, are implemented they way they are. Usually it’s to overcome limitations or drawbacks. Sometimes its to address an emerging need that was non-existant when the previous concepts were created. Whatever the case may be, its taught for a reason and you should learn it, even if you’re not using it at work.

Check out our upcoming courses

With so many certification tracks to work on these days it’s hard to keep track. This handy roadmap will help you to keep things straight. The most common questions my students ask is which programs require the CCENT exam. This chart will help! Enjoy!

Cisco Certification Roadmap

Download the PDF here

Check out our upcoming courses

We offer a number of Cisco Authorized courses. Check out our courses in the menu above! We also accept Cisco Learning Credits.