Cisco’s DevNet Express – The Intern’s Perspective
This summer, I am working as an intern at Cisco as part of the Women’s Entrepreneur Circle. This program matches two female entrepreneurs with a University of Waterloo co-op student to help them digitize their businesses. As is the case with anyone’s first job, I was nervous and unclear as to what I would be actually doing here. Little did I know that on top of the experience I would be gaining working for my entrepreneurs, I would also be exposed to the countless resources and events in which Cisco partakes. I was assigned a Cisco mentor (she is one of the sweetest and most helpful Systems Engineers), participated in volunteer opportunities (helping at Girls Power Tech and the Food Bank), attended the Corporate Knight’s Gala (so fancy!), and attended Cisco’s DevNet Express which was held in Toronto for the very first time!
The DevNet event, held regularly by Cisco, is centered on empowering developers to build network-enabled solutions by providing them with knowledge of the latest tools and resources. It was created about four years ago and has since been a huge success, its core purpose being to educate industry professionals about network programmability. As software-defined networking has taken a leap in recent years, it is essential for those in the IT field to be experienced and adept in these tools rather than only the traditional CLI (command line interface). Network programmability allows for reduced costs, quick and easy processes, and an increase in customization. Because of the copious benefits of this tool, Cisco believes it is imperative that network engineers expand their current skill set and encourages them to embrace network programmability.
The event I attended on May 24th and May 25th was split into several modules including python programming, REST APIs, and Meraki. When I was initially invited, I thought that it would be a super complex, difficult-to-understand session that I would fall behind in (as I knew almost nothing about any of the modules except for programming… yikes). To my surprise, many Cisco volunteers were walking around the room, ready to help! Each module started off with an informative presentation. Don’t get me wrong, these weren’t your usual snoozefest read-off-the-slide PowerPoint presentations. They were engaging, funny, and actually easy to understand as they were done by Cisco experts who simplified everything! The Python lab was so easy to follow, even those who have never coded before were able to understand the logic and syntax, both vital backbones when diving into the world of programming. Followed by this, we all participated in learning labs that allowed us to practice using the tool of which we learnt. Even when I got stuck on a step or didn’t understand something, there were volunteers who helped me right away, no chance to fall behind!
Personally, my favourite module was Meraki APIs. We were introduced to the Meraki dashboard, which allows for the management of network devices (switches, wireless, security), PCs and mobile devices in one centralized location. You can perform remote troubleshooting, enforce security policies, and deploy apps on your managed devices. We also discussed adding chat bots to our Webex Teams (formerly Cisco Spark) conversations. In our own co-op student group chat, we added a GifBot, which would send out GIFs every time we called upon it with a keyword, so “@GifBot funny cat” would send out a GIF of a funny cat. Since then, we have added three more bots to our chat including a DJ Khaled bot, which replies with quotes from the celebrity; it still keeps us entertained!
While sitting in on this event, I noticed that the sessions initiated conversation about technology between professionals. The event was application and group centric, creating a friendly environment for individuals to ask questions and learn from those around them. I watched as thought-provoking questions were asked and new ideas were shared, trying my best to understand!
Overall, the event was educational and practical as it allowed attendees to listen, learn, and apply through learning labs. It was a great opportunity for IT professionals and interns equally to be exposed to the latest technology as IT is a field that is constantly changing; new information is discovered and more innovative solutions are designed every day. It is so important to have events like Cisco’s DevNet Express that keep you up-to-date with the newest tools through engaging and informative modules! In fact, Cisco is already holding another DevNet session, focused on data centers, on September 25th and 26th.