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Making sense of Service Provider Virtualization

nehib-1Guest blog by Greg Nehib, SP Product and Solutions Marketing

I like to think of virtualization as an expanded networking toolkit, providing us with additional options to get the job done. It’s almost like when cordless tools entered the consumer tool market. You could take the cordless tools anywhere and use them in new and exciting applications. But there was a key drawback that I’m sure you remember. The early cordless tools had a limited effective power range. Over the next decade or two, battery technology improved and there were fewer power related drawbacks to going cordless.

Evolved Programmable Network_SP

A few similarities exist in the network functions virtualization (NFV) space. I Read More »

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How Important are Physical Routers in the move toward Virtualization?

nehib-1Guest blog by Greg Nehib, SP Product and Solutions Marketing

How important are physical routers in the move toward virtualization?

My one word response would be “very”. But the longer version would start with “it depends”.

Here’s the longer version:

It depends on your perspective. I remember when the Cisco 12000 Series GSR was introduced in the late 90’s. It started an arms race that would last for over a decade. The popular comparison at the time was all about who had the biggest router, or “speeds and feeds” as we used to describe them. 2015 offers us a very different networking discussion. People that design and operate networks are more interested in programmability and virtualization (a.k.a. SDN (Software Defined Networks) and NFV(Network Functions Virtualization). From Frederic Trate’s blog on Application Engineered Routing, you can see why this level of control is such an interesting and important place to start the discussion.

I would argue that in terms of talking points, “speeds and feeds” have taken a back seat in network design. After all, a bunch of static ports and traffic-engineered tunnels don’t lead us to the flexibility and scale that we all seek – or can they? Here are some instances where physical routers are still Read More »

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Making Applications and Network Infrastructure Talk

Frederic TrateGuest blog by Frederic Trate, SP Product and Solutions Marketing

One may say this is a topic the telecom industry has been working on for many years and that’s somewhat true. Remember the time when routing protocols and QoS (Quality of Service) mechanisms were the only tools at Service Provider’s disposal to arbitrate between sensitive and non-sensitive traffic? That worked pretty well as long as Service Providers only had to support a few applications – mainly voice and data.

Over time however, as carriers began to converge networks assets into a single, unified IP infrastructure they were faced with the challenge of increasing control over their network infrastructure. Programmability was not yet an industry buzzword but Read More »

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Project Squared: You Asked, We Listened

When we launched Project Squared in November of 2014, one of the things that was really important to us was to listen to our customers, and to use the things we heard to adjust the experience. We established several “listening posts” – ways for us to get feedback. Analytics and metrics were one way. Another way was a feedback capability right within the application. We encouraged our users to use the feedback feature to report problems, but to also make feature requests or generally tell us what they think.

Within a few weeks of launch, we already started to see some trends in the feedback we were receiving. The number one requested feature that we got – by a long shot – was the ability to leave a 1-1 room. For the engineering team, this was an unexpected request. Why do users want to leave a 1-1 room? After all, if a 1-1 room has no activity, it will downwards in the room list and you won’t see it anymore. So, what is the issue? Read More »

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Is it Time for a Data Mart Diet?

We’ve all heard the expression, “you can never have too much of a good thing.” But we all know that’s not quite true. For example, a little dessert is good. But too much can be a problem for your waistline.

It seems data marts also fit this pattern. A few data marts can be very helpful, but too many create a huge total cost of ownership (TCO) burden.

Fortunately, with data virtualization, you can turn physical data marts into virtual ones. And when you do, you will never have to worry about having too much of a good thing.

What’s Great about Data Marts

Data marts were developed as a complement to enterprise data warehouses. Typically subject or domain specific, and derivative of the warehouse, they provide a number of benefits including:

  • Focused Content – Narrowing the scope to a specific domain such as finance or sales simplifies reporting and analysis.
  • Query Performance – Offloading workload from the enterprise data warehouse can improve query performance.
  • Data Structure – Certain reporting tools require certain structures, for example star schemas. Data marts can easily be modeled based on these structures as an alternative to the warehouse schema.
  • Local Control – Users find it easier to control and modify data marts than larger warehouses.

Costs Can Outweigh the Benefits

Given the benefits cited above, data marts have proliferated rapidly. Unfortunately, as with deserts, “A moment on the lips can be a lifetime on the hips.” Data mart TCO is huge. Costs include:

  • Development Costs – Each data mart requires a full design, development and deployment effort.
  • Operating Costs – Not only does the data need to be refreshed regularly, all the underlying databases, database servers, ETLs and more must be monitored and tuned.
  • Change Management Costs – Adding new data to respond to business change requires extensive rebuilding of complex data mart schemas and ETL scripts, adding costs and reducing agility.
  • Data Governance and Quality Costs – Because data is physically replicated in each data mart, each mart requires data governance to ensure consistent quality.

Data Virtualization to the Rescue

As an alternative to physical data marts, many organizations now use data virtualization middleware such as the Cisco Data Virtualization Suite, to create virtual data marts. Virtual data marts provide all the benefits listed above with far lower costs.

  • Development Costs – Virtual data marts have far fewer moving parts, which lessen design, development and deployment efforts.
  • Operating Costs – Fewer moving parts also means less infrastructure to maintain.
  • Change Management Costs – Adding new data to respond to business change can be done in minutes or hours via virtualized data sets, rather than days or weeks in the physical data mart world.
  • Data Governance and Quality Costs – With data virtualization, data mart content can be centrally governed to ensure consistent quality wherever that data is used.

Try the Data Mart Diet Screen Shot 2015-01-20 at 12.34.41 PM

If you agree that it makes sense to lighten up on data marts, the question is how?  In other words, what is the “Data Mart Diet?”

Fortunately Rick van der Lans, data virtualization’s leading independent analyst, has created the perfect Data Mart Diet program in his latest data virtualization white paper, “Migrating to Virtual Data Marts using Data Virtualization.”

This whitepaper include a step-by-step approach for migrating physical data marts to virtual data marts using Cisco Information Server. Steps include:

  1. Recreating Physical Data Marts as Virtual Data Marts
  2. Improving Query Performance on Virtual Data Marts
  3. Identifying Common Specifications Among Virtual Data Marts
  4. Redirecting Reports to Access Virtual Data Marts
  5. Extracting Definitions from the Reporting Tools
  6. Defining Security Rules
  7. Adding External Data to Virtual Data Marts

This guidance, along with the cost-benefit summary included at the start of the paper, make this paper a must read for organizations who are seeking a data mart diet.

 

 

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