Feature Story

People@Cisco: Rich Zavala

by Kirsten Chiala

Rich Zavala

Need network infrastructure built for a big event? And want to see all the gear in action? Rich Zavala and the Tech X team have you covered.

When Rich Zavala first got his job with Cisco's Tech X team, he says it was like winning a trip to Disneyland. He loves being surrounded by Cisco's latest hardware and software innovations, as the company is always coming out with something new to show. Anyone who geeks out on technology would agree, his workspace in Cisco's building 17 is pretty cool.

There are rows and rows of racks, carts, access points, switches, routers, Webex Boards and other gear, along with big boxes that carry it all when it's time for the team to put on a big show.

Zavala and the Tech X team (short for Technology Experiences) are the wizards behind setting up the network at dozens of events throughout the year, including the company's biggest show, Cisco Live U.S.

They operate out of a San Jose workspace, where they lay out the equipment, test it, ship it out, and start the setup and testing process again at the venue.

The team is constantly working on different shows at one time. Someone may be supporting one show physically but also at the same time can be supporting another show remotely.

"It's months of planning. We do site visits prior to our events to help us determine what pieces of hardware will be required to help us light up the network to support the expected heavy traffic loads.  We are also tasked and challenged to interconnect the network for multiple venues in order to support such a big event like Cisco Live," says Zavala.

The team sets up the infrastructure in their lab, then works painstakingly to get all the gear shipped out. Once the infrastructure piece is laid out, it's on to the demos, labs, session capture equipment, and digital signage that all need to be integrated into the network.

 "What we try to do at our events and trade shows is bring our latest and greatest technologies and bring them to life for our attendees and customers to experience," says Zavala.

Not everything always has to ship onsite for certain demonstrations. Building 17 has a unique lab that hosts many different routers, switches, servers and applications where the team is capable of delivering demos that can be accessed and shown from any remote location where only internet and a laptop is a requirement. Zavala says the team enjoys often having the opportunity to be the first to showcase what Cisco tech can do.

"It's a cool feeling to just take something that's so new like a feature or a piece of hardware and figure out the best way to highlight it. As a team we're always looking to how we can enable an awesome demo experience on the network Infrastructure and deliver it first-hand at our events."


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