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The New Analytics Imperative

Cisco today announced a data and analytics strategy and a suite of analytics software that will enable customers to translate their data into actionable business insight regardless of where the data resides.

With the number of connected devices projected to grow from 10 billion today to 50 billion by 2020, the flood tide of new data — widely distributed and often unstructured — is disrupting traditional data management and analytics. Traditionally most organizations created data inside their own four walls and saved it in a centralized repository. This made it easy to analyze the data and extract valuable information to make better business decisions.

But the arrival of the Internet of Everything (IoE) — the hyper-connection of people, process, data, and things – is quickly changing all that. The amount of data is huge. It’s coming from widely disparate sources (like mobile devices, sensors, or remote routers), and much of that data is being created at the edge. Organizations can now get data from everywhere — from every device and at any time — to answer questions about their markets and customers that they never could before. But IT managers and key decision makers are struggling to find the useful business nuggets from this mountain of data.

As an example, take the typical offshore oil rig, which generates up to 2 terabytes of data per day. The majority of this data is time sensitive to both production and safety. Yet it can take up to 12 days to move a single day’s worth of data from its source at the network edge back to the data center or cloud. This means that analytics at the edge are critical to knowing what’s going on when it’s happening now, not almost 2 weeks later.

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Analytics at the Edge: Where the Network Becomes the Database

In 1984, John Gage of Sun Microsystems coined the phrase “the network is the computer” as computing functions started to become increasingly distributed across the network. Today, boundaries that once separated individual computers have disappeared and application processing is enabled—and managed—by the network. We are now at the forefront of a new market transition, as eloquently explained by Rick van der Lans in his paper, “The Network Is the Database.”

The network is indeed becoming the database. Big Data and the related approach to database management are moving away from a centralized data warehouse model and literally starting to flow across the network. We are virtualizing data management by leaving data in the network, instead of copying it into a data center. Data stays in motion wherever and whenever it’s needed across the network, instead of being at rest.

What does this mean for business value? A distributed—and virtualized—data management approach solves the three major issues of Big Data: volume, variety, and velocity.

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