Meet Rolf during Cisco field shadowing @ Lysaker
Get a glimps into Cisco’s field training program, a part of the Cisco Graduate Trainee Program (CSAP) and explore Rolf’s experiences during week 1!
Introduction by Rolf:
During Cisco’s CSAP Graduate program, 2 weeks of the first year spent in Amsterdam is dedicated for field shadowing. During these 2 weeks we have a chance to spend some time at the local office, get to know the local team and get a glimpse of how ‘life in the field’ looks like. This is very valuable because we will take part of this team once we finish the year in Amsterdam. This document will cover my field shadowing experience in one single place. It will be written in a diary format where I will share my thoughts and learnings from the field shadowing experience.
First day of my field shadowing here in Lysaker and I am excited to get started. It is not my first time in the office as I did a summer internship and wrote my master thesis here with the in-house design team. The day starts in the gym we have on-site, which is really nice!
After a successful workout session the first activity of the day is to meet Jan, the SEM for Norway, for the first time in person. We are going to attend the SE teams weekly stand up meeting where they will report last week’s activities and it starts at 8:30. The meeting starts and we are approximately 6 people in the room and I get a chance to introduce myself and meet the rest of Jan’s team. We also had a couple of people on the far end of the MX system which I found particularly interesting as one of the participants was stuck in traffic and called in from his car. I know we have all this cool collaboration technology and most of it is developed here in Lysaker, but it was actually the first time I saw the ‘full experience’ in action with participants being at home, on the go and in the office. Really cool stuff!
The content of the meeting was also really interesting because we in CSAP have worked a lot with looking inwards towards the product portfolio and learning our technology while in this meeting I really got a sense of what type of activities the SEs are doing in the field, what type of customers we have and all in all really connecting the knowledge gained through our intense bootcamp with the real world. On top of that I am glad to announce to my fellow CSAPers that I did not feel completely lost in the discussions, VICs, SFPs, NGFWs, I know at least something about that!
After the 1,5 hour long meeting it was time to sit down with Arne Martin, the SE I am going to shadow and talk about the Cisco + IBM Watson SW project where he is our contact person.
All the information on this project can be found here: Cisco + IBM Watson SW Project, Valeria, Anton & Rolf
We were off to a good start, discussing the context of the project and early on exchanging ideas.
Around 11:30 it was time for lunch and after lunch we had a bi-weekly all hands meeting where the ‘state of the union’ was addressed. This meeting is where the entire sales team get an update on how the Norway office is doing, how the coming weeks will look like and so on.
After the meeting I continued to sit down with Arne Martin starting to explore the possibilities of IBM Watson. We were able to find an entry level lab on Watson and we decided we should run through it to gain a better understanding of the platform. I was not able to finish it before it was time to go home, so I decided to pick up where I left off the next day.
It is Day 2 and it is time to pick up where I left of yesterday, so I start the day in IBM Bluemix which is the platform where you interact with Watson. After a couple of hours I am able to finish the tutorial and I am left with a lot of excitement, inspired by the potential possibilities of the platform. The baseline is so simple, but the possibilities are endless once you start combining all the different input received by the platform and throw analytics and AI in the mix.
I spent most of my morning in IBM’s tutorial and before I knew it it was lunch. After lunch I sat down with Arne Martin and we started to play around with IR829 router. This is where we intend to deploy IBM Watson. We are able to fire it up and setup the regular IOS portion of it. It is now time to explore how we contact the Guest OS which essentially is a dedicated Linux container meant for programmability and the type of deployment we were looking to achieve. We were not able to get to the programmability part of the router today.
It is time to start thinking about documenting the progress of the SW project. By this point it was still not certain if the IBM project would be our SW project (3×40 hours per member) or my Field Rotation project (8 weeks). We set up a meeting with Anton and Valeria, my team mates for the SW project and discussed this. During this meeting we pretty much decided that the IBM Watson project would be our SW project, partly because of eagerness to get started and that the alternative, a project running with SAS institute was not very clear yet. I gave them a quick briefing on the progress to get them on board and before we knew it we had officially started.
Day 3 and it is a really exciting day. For the next two days I will be attending a seminar with Arne Martin, where he will speak about Cisco on the second day, he will speak about Cisco. The seminar itself is called ‘Feltbuss 2017’ which means Fieldbus in Norwegian. This seminar is arranged by the Norwegian Association for Automation and they have invited a range of different companies and speakers to talk about the automation industry and how they are starting to move from their industrial standards like CANopen and Fieldbus towards ethernet. This transition means that they will have to integrate their automation systems with IT systems and that IT and OT needs to talk together. For me, the most value was gained by observing the atmosphere and essentially get experience and exposure to how getting a glimpse of how we as Cisco are regarded outside of our own company in this specific context. The speakers covered different topics, some of them had a more general introduction to what they did, while some went in to educate about others went more in-depth, educating us on the different technologies they could provide.
Around noon during lunch, I was able to listen in on an hour long phone meeting with Arne Martin and IBM. Here I got the sense of what kind of relationship we have with them, on which level the discussions are on etc. It is quite interesting because we in this specific effort team up with them and approach the customer together. Most of the time was spent planning the steps ahead.
The coming engagement with the customers will be in the form of a workshop where all of us together can start mapping what kind of problems they want solved. One could really tell that all the participants of the meeting were experienced as they knew exactly what to focus on and why, when they were discussing the customerthe customer was discussed. The meeting also gave me more input on how we should scope the project as the interests of the different stakeholders became a lit more clear.
After the meeting we had the chance to grab a quick lunch and mingle with the different participants working mostly with automation and OT. All in all it was a good day and there was a lot of new information. The type of information that you never really know when will become useful, but one thing is for sure, I will feel more relevant and confident in conversations with OT in the future, as I now have a slight slightly more insight into their world, concerns, considerations and technologies etc.
As mentioned, the main value for me in this round was to observe the atmosphere and interactions with the people, rather than the content.
Day 4 and second and last day of the Feltbuss 2017 seminar. It is more or less the same vibe as the first day, but the program is more focused on Ethernet/IP <– ‘Industrial Protocol’. This is also the day where Arne Martin presented his material on Cisco and the possibilities for industrial players. The world of industrial protocols are completely different due to difference in requirements compared to IT systems. For industrial environments we are mainly concerned with redundancy, reliability, very low latency and hardened devices to protect from the harsh environments to name a few.
I really enjoyed Arne Martin’s presentation as he . He was really good at connecting with the audience. One could tell that the message had been tailored to people that don’t necessarily know too much about Cisco, our story and relevance in the world of IT. He started with building credibility through his career and story in the company. I found it particularly clever how he subtly hinted the importance of staying agile in order to not get disrupted. Arne Martin used to work for Nokia which is a company everyone in the room had a relation to, so he used it as common ground to carry his message through. The message of not being afraid to move towards Ethernet as this is a development that will eventually leave a trail of disruption for industrial players. The message was off course delivered in a grounded manner where he took their side of the discussion. “We at Cisco know how important it is to use the valuable knowledge of OT during this transition” “The , the last thing we want is to give control of such crucial systems to the people in IT who do not know what you in OT know” etc.
Off course the effort is mutual and IT and OT have to meet in the middle, but the message was delivered in a wrapping that accommodated OT’s wishes and concerns.
Day 5 and it is the last day of week 1. Today we have scheduled a meeting with Anton and Valeria in Amsterdam so that they get to meet Jan and Arne Martin for the first time. In addition me and Arne Martin will continue on working with the IR829 and see if we can access the guest OS. The meeting went well, unfortunately Valeria was not able to attend, but Arne Martin and Jan got a chance to meet Anton and the meeting was conducted in Norwegian. We discussed the progress so far and had a look at the project summary which is starting to take shape. We discussed what we wanted to achieve and the importance of scoping the project appropriately.
A lot of the focus we had in the first iteration of the summary revolved heavily around IBM and their Watson platform. In other words, we will focus our efforts on getting it running on a Cisco device to begin with, the additional thought that we had played around with should be considered on the second wave. The main goal of the project now is to figure out how we can get it running on the IR829 and then use what we found to educate the others on the team. When this was achieved we could start exploring the possibilities around this. It is easy to get dragged away when speaking about these grand ideas and possibilities of AI, big data analytics and the like. At the end of the day our main value proposition is being able to provide reliable hardware and solutions with proper support that as a whole, in combination with for instance Watson can provide a value proposition that makes sense for the customers.
Wrapping up the meeting we had sharpened the focus of the project from grander ideas like full functioning proof of concepts with sensors and output to getting IBM’s Edge Analytics Agent to work on the IR829 and then taking it from there. As of now we do not really know what challenges we will face and how much time it will take to solve them, so in other words we will take one step at a time.
The rest of the day I tried to figure out the possibilities within IOx, how to deploy apps on the guest OS and by the end of the day we were also able to get the guest OS running on the IR829 we have in the office. It is time to take a well deserved weekend.