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Enhancing the Customer Experience with Data & Analytics

Last month, I had the honor of presenting at the Internet of Things (IoT) World Forum in Chicago. The event gave me the opportunity to do one of my favorite things, collaborate and network with all of my peers who are doing creative work within the world of IoT. One of my colleagues, Kowsalya Arunprakash, Lead Architect of Virtual Data Integration Services for Time Warner Cable, co-presented and shared a use case in which Time Warner is utilizing Cisco Data Virtualization to enhance its customer experience with analytics. In today’s blog, I’d like to share more details about this use case, because I think it’s a great example of how organizations are leveraging IoT solutions as a way to better serve their customers and separate themselves from their competition.

Time Warner Cable IntelligentHome is a home security and energy management system which TWC IntelligentHomeusers can control from their smartphone, tablet or computer to do things like view live video, arm/disarm their system, turn their home lights on/off or adjust the temperature of their thermostat. As you can imagine, each one of these pieces of equipment creates a fair amount of data through radio-frequency identification (RFID) and sensors. On top of this, as consumers generally do, users are going to social media to share their experience.

Utilizing Cisco Data Virtualization, Time Warner is able to couple this data along with sales, marketing and historical customer data to get a full 360 degree view of operational analytics. By operational, I am TWC IntelligentHome 2referring to intelligence like customer trends, sales analytics and resource allocation management.

This combination is an extremely powerful tool to understand the customer in order to create and adapt products and services that cater to their wants and needs. It’s an opportunity to see how the product is being used, via RFIDs and sensors, coupled with customers’ feedback and experience shared on social media as well as their long-term history of usage and preferences.

During her presentation, Kowsalya shared that by leveraging these insights Time Warner is able to improve sales, reduce customer churn and even work with local law enforcement and emergency services to respond faster to current events. To hear more, I encourage you to watch the video interview of Kowsalya and learn about how Time Warner is using Data Virtualization to derive value for their customers.

 

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To learn more about Cisco Data and Analytics, check out our page.

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New Research Identifies How to Accelerate Data Virtualization Adoption

The challenges of data management are getting exponentially harder. These ever-increasing data quantities, diversity and distribution are revolutionizing data management, opening the door for new solutions such as data virtualization.

Data virtualization fulfills a range of business demands for data, supports high iteration and fast response times, all while saving significant IT costs.

Radiant Advisors is a leading strategic research and advisory firm that helps transform today’s organizations into tomorrow’s data-driven industry leaders.  They recently teamed with Cisco to better understand the barriers experienced by companies considering data virtualization and see how companies that have already adopted data virtualization overcame them.

The Data Virtualization Adoption Dilemma

Data virtualization is an advanced technology with nearly every major research and consulting firm provides architectural blueprints that include a logical business semantic layer.

Yet only some companies have it, leaving data virtualization an often-missed opportunity for business and IT to keep pace with today’s volatile data landscape.

To achieve the benefits of data virtualization, companies need to take the leap.

Unique Research Formula

To better understand data virtualization adoption barriers, Radiant Advisors’ Research Director, Lindy Ryan, interviewed a broad, pre-adopter community to understand their perceptions and concerns.  These top-of-mind issues were then posited to companies that have already adopted data virtualization, who then anonymously shared the insights, best practices, and lessons they learned in overcoming barriers to data virtualization adoption.

The resulting research report, Overcoming Barriers to Data Virtualization Adoption, consolidated these findings into clear counsel intended to guide potential adopters to overcome perceived barriers.

Read The Research

Download Overcoming Barriers to Data Virtualization Adoption here.

 

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To learn more about Cisco Data Virtualization, check out our page.

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Content Routing, Traffic Steering and Load Balancing via ITD

Content routing, Traffic steering and Load-balancing technologies are crucial part of network deployments. Cisco has recently released 6.2.(10) NXOS release which has innovative features that take content routing up to next level. Intelligent Traffic Director (ITD) is taking up the challenge to make our networks more scalable, reliable and manageable, while saving significant CAPEX and OPEX for the customers. ITD started shipping in NX-OS 6.2(8). In 6.2(10) release, ITD has achieved significant milestone with the following enhancements.

Weighted load balancing
L4 port based load balancing
Sandwich mode Node-State sync between two ITD services in  a VDC
DNS probe
Start/Stop/Clear ITD statistics collection
Show ITD statistics have % traffic distribution
Node-level standby
VRF support for ITD Service and Probes
Number of ITD services scaled up : 32 ITD services per VDC
Number of VIPs scaled up : 16 VIPs per ITD service
DCNM support using DevNet
N5k/N6k support (only available for EFT/PoC via special image. Email ask-itd@external.cisco.com)
NAT (only available for EFT/PoC via special image. Email ask-itd@external.cisco.com)

 
Testimonials :
“Great milestone Samar, Mouli and team!!!
We are very grateful for the work you guys did with pioneering and driving this new solution!!! (It’s great) to have team come up with such needed functionality, collaborate closely with field and our engineering and TME team and bring it to market. It will definitely  help us bring our VDS-TC solution to market as ITD simplifies the debugging and configuration and we are looking forward migrate our current customers as well as expand. ITD help us scale to 1T of cache traffic in single N77K with much more manageable solution and easier to support. Looking forward for more good stuff coming from your team.. Samar, you built world class team that is really great to work with! ”

“Nice job Samar and team!  ITD is a creative solution and these are impressive additions. One of my customers is trying ITD with an earlier version of 6.2.10 and is very impressed. Especially on the collaboration with the engineering team and building a relevant solution. Looking forward to a lot of deployments.”
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Keeping Your Eyes on the Skies – A Partner’s View on SQL Server and UCS

November 6, 2014 at 6:00 am PST

A Guest Blog by Partner Rick Heiges of Scalability Experts: Rick is a SQL Server Microsoft MVP and Senior Solutions Architect.  He primarily works with Enterprise customers on their Data Platform strategies. Rick is also very involved in the SQL Server Community primarily through PASS and events such as the PASS Summit, SQL Saturdays, and 24 Hours of PASS.  His tenure on the PASS Board of Directors saw the annual Summit triple in size from 2003 to 2011.  You can find his blog at www.sqlblog.com.

So far, it has been another great week here at the PASS Summit 2014, SQL Server’s largest annual user and partner conference.  With yesterday’s keynote address, there is still very much a focus on getting to the cloud and new investments in cloud technology in general. Microsoft seems to be extending its data collection and storage technologies in the cloud and also on-prem.  One of the coolest features talked about was the concept of a “stretch tables” where a table that lives on your on-prem SQL Server can be “stretched” on to tables in SQL Azure Databases.  The data may be shared so that the “hot” data can stay local and the “cold” data would live in the cloud.  There were some other great demos around using the Kinect device to create a heat map of customer activity in a physical store (similar to what people linger and search for when shopping online).  You can watch the PASS Summit 2014 Keynote here on PASStv.

As a Senior Solutions Architect with Scalability Experts, I work with large enterprise customers (Fortune 500 type) on a regular basis.  There is more and more interest about leveraging the Public Cloud for some workloads and taking advantage of “on-prem” resources in a cloud-like way.  This means deploying your internal resources in a similar way – for example via Cisco’s Microsoft Fast Track certified FlexPod or VSPEX integrated infrastructure solutions --  that public cloud resources are deployed with a similar chargeback (or ‘show back’) model and automating the self-service deployment of infrastructure, and the monitoring of the entire stack.

One of the things that I really like about Microsoft’s products is a focus on ease of use, tight integration, and low TCO.  This is important to a lot of the customers that I interact with.  This is why I have seen a surge in Cisco UCS products in my customer base of the past few years.  Cisco has a similar goal to keep things simple and TCO low – read this Total Economic Impact report from Forrester on UCS ROI/TCO.  Cisco also provides Management Pack plug-ins to Microsoft’s System Center suite for tight integration so that you can manage the entire stack (Hardware, Hypervisor, Application, and even Public Cloud) with a single tool.  It is great to see how this partnership between Microsoft and Cisco can be beneficial to the customers that I work with.

Microsoft’s SQL Server 2014 also brings “In-Memory” Technology to OLTP in a cost-effective manner by not forcing a complete rewrite of the application.  In a recent Cisco UCS  on Microsoft SQL Server 2014 case study, Progressive Insurance was able to take advantage of this technology to further its strategy of its competitive advantage -- ease of use.

Eventually, I see the Public Cloud taking on a more “primary” role in the future.  Similar to the “Everything on a VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra, I see an “Everything on a Public Cloud VM unless there is a reason not to” mantra on the long-term horizon.  Until then, the Hybrid Cloud will be the default stance for many large enterprises.

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The Big Picture of Big Data

The Internet of Everything (IoE) is disrupting innovation models and causing market shifts. One of the most powerful IoE-driven opportunities will be the value created from big data and analytics. As IoE gains momentum and creates billions of new connections, each of those connections will be capable of producing data. The enterprises that can unlock the intelligence within that data — quickly and effectively — will hold the key to a powerful and sustainable competitive edge. Read More »

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