A Steamy Cisco Live….and fun

Cisco Live 2018 in Orlando, Florida just finished up …. and once again .. I went to one session. HA. This time was my fourth year, which allowed me to become a NetVet, aka the Red Lanyard. Being a NetVet allows you access to a lounge area with drinks, snacks and quick access to lunch. This lounge area also has a good amount of chairs and tables to relax at. Also, they had some retro arcade games setup to fool around with. Good times.

So why only one session? I typically schedule a few sessions, mostly on Wireless topics. Sometimes I manage to join in, sometimes I do not. Let me explain why.

I find the “networking” aspect of Cisco Live more fun than anything. Just the random encounters and walking up to people that I know or recognize, or sometimes don’t even know at all, and just saying “Hi”, is the best part. The little stories you hear and people talking about what they do and why they do it. That’s the best part.

I find the randomness of chatting with people more of a value than sitting in a session(plus most of the sessions are recorded anyways). Now, sometimes sitting for an hour long sessions is great, because, Cisco Live is huge, the first day alone you will walk at least 10 or more miles.

Another part of the community I find fun is the Cisco Champion group. Being part of this group allows access to some private activities and sessions. This is a yearly “application” that you do and if you’re in, it truly is worth it.

Also, last but not least is Cisco DevNet/Create. The DevNet group of people are truly a fun time to hang around with. They have little sessions, usually around 10-20 people on different topics, from IoT automation, to face tracking with cameras. Lots of cool stuff going on there.

If you are new to Cisco Live, I will leave you with these important rules: wear good walking shoes and drink lots of water.

See you again next year!

“I am responsible for this case, I am here to help”

Cisco Meraki should do more “enterprise” testing, or maybe just testing in general.  Let me explain why I said this.  Over the last five years I have opened on average 20 cases a year. Some regarding cosmetic issues, some regarding small “issues”. Some cases last over a year, because somehow I’m the only person in the world who can recreate the issue? But nothing causing actual downtime that could not quickly be addressed in another manner.

That is, until the MC product line, this is the Meraki Phone.

From time to time I randomly visit the Meraki Dashboard, mostly to disable the “auto-upgrade” that pushes “Stable Release Candidate” line of code to my devices. I really do like the option of auto-upgrading, but why are you pushing a “release candidate” to my production network? More on that later, but lets get back to the phone issue.

For the most part over the last year and a half(actually when the phone was first available I bought one) the Meraki Phone has done “okay”. I wouldn’t call it the best featured phone from Cisco especially for the price, however it does look nice.

Now during my dashboard visit, I randomly browse around looking for new things that are turned on, or how they have made things more visible.  Cool.

This time I look at my Phone Directory(this lists users that should be assigned to a phone). I notice that my User is not assigned a phone, hmm, odd.  Now lets do a Delorean mode and go back to maybe December(?). This is when I noticed a new option under Directory Sync, “Azure Active Directory”. Oh nice, we use that(Office 365 E5 + AAD-P2).  Cool, so I set this up.

months .. pass … no …. issues ….. UNTIL ……

Like I said, I noticed my user does not have a phone assigned. So I look at the Phone list(this shows the physical phones in your network). I select my phone and I see it doesn’t show an assigned user. OK, I select the correct user click Save, done. Cool.

Oh … wait .. what happened to the assigned public phone numbers that I did have? Those numbers are shown right below the assigned user section.

They’re gone.

Hmm, so I remove the assigned user thinking they would come back. Nope. The option to assign phone numbers does not exist anymore. Odd.

OK, so lets assign the user again, that works–the user is assigned to the phone. Oh, I see an option to assign phone numbers, cool, NOPE, none of my phone numbers are available. Odd. So I start looking around, I go into the Phone Numbers(this shows public phone numbers assigned to your account). I see my phone numbers are still listed in the system. Cool.

So I look around and to see if they have somehow been assigned to another phone, nope. Hmm. Odd.

Now the first thing you might be thinking is wait, what about the AD/LDAP mappings  that would need to be done. You know from the golden age of  CUCM LDAP User search base mapping. Nahhh, no options for that.

So where are we at with this?

A support case with Meraki was opened instantly, as you see, or actually should be hearing a phone ring along with being able to make calls(yeah a little bad humor). My phone does not show as being assigned a phone number.  Nor, can I assign my numbers to another phone. When you do call any of the numbers that I did have, they instantly are greeted with my voicemail message.

So here I sit, at the hands of poor QA done by Cisco Meraki.

The next day comes, I let time pass and call Support around noon(my local time). I have an issue of 100% downtime with my phone, Support tells me nothing can be done, nor can they do anything other than tell me what “engineering has told them to do”. I can’t talk to any person on the MC product line, i.e. a Product Manager.  The only people I can talk to regarding this are Support. And, even that was painful.

I had to ask three times to speak to a Support Manger, why did I have to ask three times?  I asked for a way to contact the Support Manger directly that I did talk with, I was told to just call support, as a way to contact that person was not available?  I instantly had the feeling of Cisco Meraki did not care about this issue, even though I was told “we care“.  Why would a support manager not want to take responsibility for this case, why would they not want to be directly contacted regarding this issue? Why would the PM of the product line not want to know about this? Do they even know? How are updates done to let people know? Once, again this is an issue of 100% downtime.

My phone can not place or receive calls using the phone numbers that I currently pay a provider for along with the support I pay to Cisco Meraki.

I wonder if Cisco Meraki uses the “Cisco Severity and Escalation Guidelines“. Do they even have one? How do they determine importance of an issue?  I going to lean towards with “us/me” being a small setup—why bother with us, who cares?

Around, 2007 maybe 2006, not sure exactly. I called Cisco TAC. I had an issue with not being able to enable PBR on a Sup 6E.  I opened the case online(which if I remember right, would be a Sev-3—meaning hey no big deal), maybe within 10 minutes I got a call from a CCIE. He told me his name along with the following:

“I am responsible for this case, I am here to help”

Now, this was not a service interrupting issue, this was me trying to enable PBR to send traffic to an IronPort Web Security Appliance.  Actually, I didn’t mind if it worked or not as I had other methods to accomplish the same results. No big deal. However, the pure fact that someone said they are responsible for getting results to help me on this simple, little, tiny issue, is what did matter. Someone who I could call directly(or even email) that would make sure things work, is what did matter. And, of all things was done on a Saturday morning.

I wrote the above blog post around 2PM Central time, but was holding off on clicking Publish, I’m adding more detail to this as I think it needs to be mentioned. I found out who my Account Manager is from the Meraki Dashboard. I emailed that person asking them to look at a support case. After a quick exchange of how I can be contacted, I received a call(obviously on my cell phone). I don’t recall ever talking to this person. However, I did get a sense of importance to this issue and a willingness to get the “higher up” folks involved in a faster manner and the appearance of ownership to my issue. (And, I use the word “appearance” in a light manner, well you know, c’mon, sales folks). Smiley face/wink.

Shortly after I did receive a call from Support, explaining they were told the phone numbers(but not my phone extension) should be available again. Yes, other than my phone extension with my voicemail greeting and maybe some messages still attached to “something in the cloud”. I can receive and place calls now. This is the not the first time I have had to redo my voicemail greeting. But why?

This has opened lots of questions all leading to “what if” scenarios? The major one being this is a phone, what if the reason this phone was bought because it fit the need to at least try and provide access to an emergency service? And, besides emergency services, what about actual business needs, people in an office do not use cell phones, they have office phones(at least for us we do).

I know people are going to say: “Hey, it’s the cloud, don’t trust it” or “dude it’s Meraki, c’mon, you should know better”.  Also, I looked around my dashboard I didn’t see anything that said “Beta” that was inline with what I was doing. Maybe those words need to be applied all over?

A good friend mentioned to me “Heck, if you worked someplace else, you would have been fired over this”. Meaning you recommend the product, it breaks, causes business down-time, you and the product are removed. Which brings up even more “what if” questions.

Maybe another option when opening a case is being able to place more details, other than “Low, Medium, High”, which sound like settings on a barbecue grill.

Maybe things like this actually need to happen. I understand things break, things break all the time. Maybe a culture change will take place? Reminds me of that AWS re:Invent Netflix session(I can’t find the video link), a guy was talking about when people push code and it breaks, you are expected to instantly fix it. Doesn’t matter if it breaks then, or a couple days later, or even if you’re on vacation, you own it, you fix it.

Or maybe, just maybe, I’ve watched too much Mad Max and have drank the kool-aid.

“They say people don’t believe in heroes anymore. Well, damn them! You and me, Max, we’re gonna give ’em back their heroes!”

Good weather and some DevNetCreate

The 2nd Cisco DevNetCreate conference was recently held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View.  Pretty cool place to see the history of technology we use on a daily basis.

This picture reminded me of a scene from the movie Sneakers.

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Lots of sessions and really good food. They brought in local food trucks so we had a good variety of choices over the two day conference. The only down side, lots of really good sessions but not enough time(i.e. some ran at the same time as others).  Maybe somehow they could be recorded?? Overall, I would give this conference a 95%, hmmm, why not 100? Well, that reason is, just not enough time to see everything.  Not sure if adding another day would make this better.  I think the two days are perfect, however the recording of sessions would add that little 5% for sure.

Normally, I don’t stick around for keynotes at ANY conference. Usually I get distracted and wonder off.  BUT, this time I tried it out.  Being part of the Cisco Champions group added some fun to it, front row, center seating.

This one was pretty cool, Guy Kawasaki was invited to talk. He tells a great story! If you get a chance to see him at a conference, do not pass it up.

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As for sessions, Cisco Meraki had several workshops/sessions talking about their API.  Lots of focus on Node-RED and how to make that “magic” of programming an easier process.

Michael Chenetz did a great job of doing an intro to using Node-RED and showing how things can connect with ease using the Meraki API.

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Now, the next one is a bummer, it was about designing your own PCB along with using Upverter and Hackster.io.  I was actually really excited for this one. BUT, I quickly realized I don’t have the patience for it. The little circuits and what-not, nah, that’s not for me. Which was a good experience that I was able to see what someone had created and quickly found out I would really not like to do it. So in the end it worked out well, PCB design is not for me.

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Now comes the very fun “Create” part of the conference, it was a bonfire and create your own S’mores. If you don’t know what a S’more is, well, you’re missing out … stop reading right now and make some, they go great with some beer(or wine).

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Thanks to the entire DevNetCreate Team for once again, having a great conference and fun time! I hope to see you all again next year!

As you wish, Captain. This way.

Hey, I’m still around. So here’s a little update for 2018. More conferences! Yeah!!!

First on the list is DevFestKC, it’s local so easy to hit.

Then right off to the awesome WLPC, if you do anything with wi-fi, you have to go!

Also, thinking about hitting up HPE Aruba Atmopshere, always a good one, just might not have time–we’ll see.

Then Cisco DevNetCreate — If you love APIs, IoT and Developer stuff, it’s a great time!

Hoping to visit InteropITX again, loved it last year. A diverse group, awesome to see and learn new things

and.. then RSA Conference in SFO.

Many more on the list… but we’ll leave that for another blog post later on.

…seven bells and all is well

In the last 90 days, the conference trips have been going. It started off with Interop ITX, Cisco DevNetCreate, Purestorage Pure//Accelerate, Kansas City VMUG Regional Conference, and lastly Cisco Live in Vegas.

Lots of travel and long nights.  I’ll be posting a little more details of each conference in the next few days. Just wanted to drop a little note as to why this blog seems a little lacking the past few weeks. Stay tuned!!!

He Who Dares, Wins!

“He Who Dares, Wins”   I like that…. I find it interesting.  For the last few months I have a support ticket open for what is called a “cosmetic issue” or so I’m told.  And, that issue is, all of my Cisco Meraki MS220-8P switches are showing the  incorrect LED status, for any ports and even the main switch status light.

Here’s a somewhat bad photo that shows what I’m talking about:

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The main status light on the far left is Amber, that should be Green.  However, if Port One is unplugged, which currently is showing Amber, the switch status light turns off. And, instead of showing Amber on the ports, it should show Green.  Hmm.

Cosmetic Issue …. Yeah … the switch itself appears to function fine, I have not noticed any issues with devices being able to pass traffic or any related performance metrics that are not meeting a goal. So Okay, then what are we winning?  Well, let me explain what I’m thinking….

Could Cisco Meraki be doing a client test or collecting information to see who actually looks at port lights? If we are moving to a complete cloud based system do we really need lights? Sure, I would think, maybe a power light, to say “hey, I have power, or I’m not doing well”.  BUT, how often do you *really* look at your switches or even look at each switch port status? From the (wireless) access point side of things, people want the status LED turned off.  Some people just do not like it.  Maybe that approach is making a road towards switches and other devices, turn all the lights off.

………… or maybe someone messed up and just hasn’t fixed it???

 

The ball and the three cups.

The greatest trick Meraki ever pulled was convincing the world to run Beta code.

Yeah, I changed it .. and that’s what I’m thinking now. Let me explain…

After reading this post on the Meraki blog about the new phone features—which really should have been around from day one.  I was impressed, but then that wore off really quick. I found one of the features was available right now—the easier porting of an existing phone number into the Meraki system. Nice.

But wait … where are the other two?

Well, they’re stuck in “Beta” code. ……. FUCK! Really!?!?

When it comes to things with the word Beta attached, I stay away. But why? Gmail was Beta for years.  Good point. But that’s email, not a phone call.  A phone call could be important and it could be nothing.  The important part being–the need to call emergency services. Do you want your phone to reboot, lockup, or just not work? Nah, I didn’t think so either.

Maybe Meraki could have two thoughts about code, maybe you still have your traditional “beta” code, that only runs with and on devices that you know are going to be watched and reported on for issues. Then you have almost production code, meaning we’re not sure if something exists, but this code train has passed our internal QA process, which Meraki talked about here. So after passing our check box items, we allow outside folks to run it, with them knowing that is *has* passed xyz of checks, but something could be around. Then after that is done, it becomes the “upgrade available” option in your Meraki Dashboard.

With that little warm feeling available, maybe it would be OK to run Beta code in production environments.  Maybe we’ll call this idea… the the condition of being transparent. Or we could just chase the ball under the the three cups. 🙂