Since the pandemic required thousands of Cisco engineers around the world to work remotely, managers have worked hard to keep people connected and engaged. They have emulated Chuck Robbins and other Cisco leaders who held weekly check-ins to improve morale and spread the word about what different teams are working on. They have also provided ongoing training at the team level and training through a portal for individual, self-driven learning.
With many engineers and other staff in Cisco Enterprise Networking beginning to return to the office either full-time or part-time, the excitement to connect and reconnect with colleagues is in the air. Look no further than the latest continuous learning activity ― Demo Day ― for evidence of this enthusiasm.
Demo Day in San Jose and Bengaluru
Demo Day was held on August 24 at Cisco offices in Bengaluru, India, and on August 31 in San Jose, California. Across the Cisco Enterprise Networking organization, the events were the first time since the start of the pandemic that some team members were able to meet each other in person. Another benefit was seeing an array of product and technology demos usually shown to partners and customers at events like Cisco Live! for the first time while being able to interact with different networking BUs up close.
The response was overwhelming, with 900 engineers in Bengaluru and 861 in San Jose in attendance.
“Coming together, I think we broke the mental barrier of coming back to the office,” said Murali Basavaraju, Director, Cisco Engineering, who was at Demo Day in Bengaluru. “It was the first event since the pandemic where we could come together with a purpose.”
The Demo Day organizers were limited to 18 product and technology demo presentations due to space constraints. Participants went from one presentation to the next, engaging with live presenters who introduced the demos and fielded questions.
Cloud-based management and monitoring of Catalyst 9000 Series switches using the Meraki dashboard
Infrastructure Automation described how DevOps users can create on-demand connectivity between an on-premises cluster and an AWS virtual private cloud (VPC) using a Cisco SD-WAN backend.
Developer Workboard is a day-to-day engineering task management tool for developers that is persona-driven (e.g., (developer, QA engineer, DE/Dt manager) and includes dashboards and Integrated Development Environment (IDE) integration.
AI Endpoint Analytics, a next-generation profiling Engine in Cisco DNA Center that helps IT organizations identify and profile endpoints that help reduce the number of unknown endpoints and IoT devices in the network
Cisco wireless 3D analyzer simplifies Wi-Fi planning, monitoring, and troubleshooting
pxGrid Direct, a framework in Cisco ISE that is used for periodically fetching endpoints and attributes from external sources and making them readily available for use in authorization policies with no development effort required from customers
Multi-Region Fabric enables, with a few clicks, the ability to divide the architecture of the Cisco SD-WAN overlay network into multiple regional networks that operate distinctly from one another, including a central core region network for managing inter-regional traffic
“We wanted to enable engineers who had been with Cisco for a short period of time to present the demos,” said Cisco Distinguished Engineer Balaji Sundararajan, another architect of Demo Day. “Senior engineers and architects have been mentoring newer team members. At Demo Day, the presenters were put in a position where they could meet other leaders from throughout our organization. So mentoring was another goal of Demo Day.”
The presenters were backed by a panel of Cisco engineers, available virtually, to take questions across geographies on WebEx. Questions were asked on the features, target customers, roadmaps, and where to find more information. The questions were captured for later use in documentation and marketing.
The three-hour demo events included lunch and social time with colleagues, plus random prize giveaways.
“I’m part of wireless so I know what’s going on in our roadmap, but it’s interesting to find out what’s going on in other BUs,” said Principal Engineer and Demo Day planner Byju Pularikkal. “Especially when some offers span different portfolios.
Subsequent Demo Day events will take place at other locations in the U.S. and India (Demo Day in Chennai was a great success on September 7) and in Cisco offices in Switzerland, Canada, Israel, and China.
Focus on Continuous Learning
Since the beginning of Cisco, continuous learning for all of our employees has been an important emphasis. The Cisco Continuous Learning program in Cisco Enterprise Networking is aimed at keeping engineers up to date on Cisco networking technologies, products, and architectures so they can excel at what they do.
The last in-person continuous learning event for Cisco Enterprise Networking was a one-day meeting at a hotel in San Jose in 2019, attended by teams under Ravi Chandrasekaran, Senior Vice President of Engineering. Since then, most learning has been done remotely, with monthly sessions geared to different time zones. But now that’s changing as the pandemic winds down.
Continuous learning among Cisco engineers in Cisco Enterprise Networking has been credited with reducing development silos so that ideas can flow among different teams. Examples include the combination of security and networking disciplines in Zero Trust connectivity or integrating ThousandEyes visibility into enterprise switching.