Cisco at AWS re:Invent 2021

Here is a summary of Cisco’s mentions and highlights at AWS re:Invent 2021!

Please note: each of these links require registering on the AWS re:Invent site.

Launches and Mentions

AWS GATEWAY LOAD BALANCER >> Now featuring Cisco Firewall as a Service (FWaaS)

Learn more by reading Cisco’s blog

AWS MARKETPLACE LAUNCH >> Cisco Snort 3 Anywhere

Snort 3 Anywhere is a containerized form factor of the well-known, industry defacto standard standard IPS engine. With this latest offering now available in AWS Marketplace you can easily deploy Snort 3 in your EKS or on-premises container environment. Learn more in Cisco’s blog

AWS MARKETPLACE LAUNCH >> Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer SaaS

Cisco Intersight Workload Optimizer is a real-time decision engine that drives continuous health of applications across on-premises and public cloud environments to analyze workload consumption, costs, and policy constraints across the full stack. Learn more via the new listing in AWS Marketplace and Cisco’s blog.

NEW AWS QUICK START >> Featuring Cisco Meraki Virtual MX

Customers can secure SD-WAN traffic between branch offices to resources on AWS with this new AWS Quick Start. Click to view and deploy.


Canary in the Cloud

Now a cliche but once a reality, it turns out that the canaries, like other birds, are much more sensitive to poisonous gases than humans. The birds were brought down into the coal mine and acted as an indicator and early warning of possible danger to the British miners.

An electronic detection system later replaced the birds, but these birds served an essential role for decades.

The public cloud has changed the way organizations deliver, respond, and represent their customers, and organizations are building an early warning systems approach to their cloud. The teams and systems that make up this strategy are Cloud Center of Excellent (CoE), which provides centralized controls, tools, and best practices.

The purpose of these teams is to accelerate cloud adoption by centralizing expertise while reducing costs and risk (Flexera, 2021).

Flexera 2021 State of the Cloud Report

Unlike the canaries that provide chaotic monitoring of harmful gasses, enterprises have tools that offer next-level proactive and predictive monitoring. These systems allow organizations to understand the complexity of their cloud and oversee across multiple business units and functional areas.

Full-Stack Canary

Well, it’s not a cute bird, but it does overcome the spiraling complexity of cloud, hybrid cloud, and traditional IT. AppDynamics, ThousandEyes, and Intersight Workload Optimizer make up Cisco’s Full-Stack Observability platform. Connecting the dots up and down the “stack”-from the customer or employee-facing application, all the way down to the lowest level infrastructure (compute, storage, networking, and public internet).


When we consider the technical environment we live in, we recognize the need to monitor the entire IT estate. Like the canaries in the coal mine, the answer is to predict and identify an issue before it adversely affects customers and businesses.


“2021 State of the Cloud Report.” Flexera, 2021, https://info.flexera.com/CM-REPORT-State-of-the-Cloud?dtid=oblgzzz001087. 

Magazine, Smithsonian. “The Story of the Real Canary in the Coal Mine.” Smithsonian.com, Smithsonian Institution, 30 Dec. 2016, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/smart-news/story-real-canary-coal-mine-180961570/. 

Smith, Kiona N. “The Canary in the Coal Mine Isn’t Ancient History.” Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 7 Jan. 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/kionasmith/2019/12/31/the-canary-in-the-coal-mine-isnt-ancient-history/?sh=1245d4244393. 

“Rise of Full-Stack Observability.” AppDynamics, AppDynamics, 13 July 2021, https://www.appdynamics.com/resources/reports/rise-of-full-stack-observability. 

Catalyst 9200, Upgrading IOS-XE Amsterdam 17.3.x (Install Mode)

Starting with IOS-XE 17.3.2 and future releases, Cisco implemented Smart Licensing using Policy. Be sure to read up on what this means in this post Update to Cisco Smart Licensing. If you need to review how to change operating modes, you can check this post Converting Cisco IOS-XE Software from Bundle Mode to Install Mode.

You may notice the new command no boot manual. What this essentially is doing is setting the config register to 0x2102. Classic platforms that run on IOS code version; you can set this via the config-register command. However, on Catalyst 9K switches that run IOS-XE, the config-register command was ineffective and malfunctioned, causing confusion.

To prevent the switch from rebooting into ROMmon mode (boot the switch normally), use the no boot manual command as shown in the code snippet below.

OperationIOS Config-register valueEquivalent IOS-XE CLI
Boot normally0x2102Switch(config)#no boot manual
Boot to rommon0x0,0x2120Switch(config)#boot manual
Step 1. Remove Unwanted Packages
C9200K#install remove inactive
Step 2. Copy New Image to Flash
C9200K#copy usbflash1:cat9k_lite_iosxexxx.bin flash:
Step 3. Set Boot Variable
C9200K(config)#boot system flash:packages.conf
C9200K(config)#no boot manual
C9200K#show boot system
Step 4. Software Install Image to Flash
C9200K#install add file flash: cat9k_lite_iosxexxx.bin activate commit (auto reloads after this command)
Step 5. Verify New Packages and Image after reload
C9200K#dir flash:*.pkg
Step 6. Check Version and New Bootloader
C9200K#show version
C9200K#show boot

Hope that this helps.


Cisco. (2021, May 10). Smart licensing using policy on catalyst switching platforms. Cisco. https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/docs/switches/catalyst-9300-series-switches/216545-smart-licensing-using-policy-on-catalyst.html. 

Cisco. (2021, February 24). Configuration register equivalent CLIs In IOS-XE. Cisco. https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/support/docs/switches/catalyst-9300-series-switches/216850-configuration-register-equivalent-clis-i.html. 

AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Exam Review

I recently took the AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals exam bringing me my third fundamental cloud certification after CompTIA Cloud+ and AWS Cloud Practitioner. Not a bragging moment; I mean, they’re entry-level exams after all.

I am, however, advocating for one certification over the rest. Not to completely derail us, but the AWS Cloud Practitioner is by far the way to go out of the three exams. The complimentary exam resources and their content are superior to the other two. Does this make me an AWS fanboy? Unsure. But the content was logically laid out, the speakers and visual aids were excellent, and I learned a lot. I haven’t taken the GCP test yet, so that could change things for me, but as of today, I’d recommend your first cloud certification be the AWS Cloud Practitioner. I digress; let us move back to our topic.

The AZ-900 exam is the entry-level exam for Azure, Microsoft Cloud Computing service, with no prerequisite.
You will need to understand Azure-specific services from Data Bases like Cosmos DB, Analytics like Azure Synapse, Networking, and Storage. You can find a complete list of skills you will be measured against here.

Through the course material you will learn and rehears Azure services reasonably quickly. If you have the fundamental cloud concepts down Azure Specific services, become table-stakes.

If you aren’t familiar with Azure services or cloud fundamentals, rest assured that you can learn these topics in the free course they provide. The content alone is enough to pass the exam. However, I found it difficult to follow and found myself lacking the motivation to complete the course. It took me about ten hours to finish the content with diligent note-taking. I did like that there were hands-on labs or sandboxes as they refer to it throughout, but it requires a phone number and a credit card for identification purposes.

There’s a little XP tracker in the top right-hand corner of the course you earn experience points (XP) after completing a section or a sandbox lab. I found myself wanting to drive up XP like a video game. It was a stimulating reinforcement measure for sure.

Pearson VUE provides the test for USD99 but what’s pretty cool and little known is that you could get a discount on the exam or even have it completely free depending on your situation. Even if you don’t get the test entirely free for a limited time, Microsoft offers job seekers impacted by COVID-19 and students for USD15. You can look for the exam discounts under your certification dashboard. Choose the MCP Home tab and after signing in, navigate to your profile. You will see ‘Exam Discount’ on the left. Be sure to check!