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Creating Value from Connections—While They’re Still Valuable

We’ve reached the 8th installment of our blog series on Cisco’s Big Data and Analytics vision (beginning with Scott Ciccone’s blog on September 23). No doubt by now you have either seen or heard about Cisco’s broad data and analytics portfolio presented at Strataconf in New York on Oct. 15. And if you missed our October 21st executive webcast ‘Unlock Your Competitive Edge with Cisco Big Data and Analytics Solutions,’ please check it out.  Now you’re probably eager to know how to make the most of our approach to data analytics. How can you benefit the most—and the most quickly—from data analysis in your organization?

Customers come to us to ask for support in extracting valuable and actionable business insights from their large stocks of network data. Their goal is always to drive both operational efficiencies and new revenue opportunities. Rapid changes in the business environment increase pressure on time-to-value: savings and revenues need to be brought in as quickly as possible. But traditional ways to extract value from data, complicated by volume, velocity and variety issues, often have a very long time-to-value. In fact, data analytics consulting projects historically take a year or longer to complete. Customers get handed large scale implementation plans and, by the time the program is implemented, the wind has changed: the market opportunity has closed, and the business has moved on.

That’s why for some time now I’ve been a student of accelerating time to value for data analytics. Our job is not just to show our customers the hidden business value of their data, but also to bring that value to them fast. We have developed a rapid prototyping, iterative approach that continuously develops actionable insights from network and other sources of data. Our approach contains four steps to help our customers quickly develop, test, and implement business ideas and processes:

Step One: We start by working with customers and identify key use cases through an “Internet of Everything” iterative planning approach. Our experts don’t just present an idea, but a complete, ready-to-test hypothesis, using visualization techniques and an analytics design approach to discover new ways to do business, based on analytics insights.

Step Two: We use a rapid data extraction approach to capture the data needed to test that hypothesis. We fully leverage Cisco’s Connected Analytics platform, enabling automated data collection and simple correlations exploration.

Step Three: Once we have the data we need, we apply a data science approach to build an “analytics sandbox” in which we test the proposed use cases and measure its outcomes. We use rapid prototyping to test theories, quickly working through iterations to develop a truly working business model for our customers’ unique situations. In the process we are able to identify new insights that became the basis for the next use cases.

Step Four: The result is a set of modular Business Insights, which we interpret and thoroughly test, and turn into an actionable plan that we execute. This makes it relatively easy for our experts to integrate insights and actions into our customers’ transformation initiatives—and in a fraction of the time of traditional data-driven solutions.

The world of top down, outside-in consulting, where value comes from individuals’ experience, is gone. Value today is enabled by the capability of companies like Cisco to extract and interpret data about our customers’ core business, enabling agile decision making and rapid process transformation.

As the Internet of Everything becomes a pervasive reality, we see that analytics is what creates value from all of these connections value. To learn more about Cisco’s vision for the Internet of Everything, read Joseph Bradley’s blog on Thursday, October 23! #UnlockBigData

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Bridging Business and IT: The Value and Virtue of a Business Directory

According to Dr. Barry Devlin, amongst the foremost authorities on business insight and one of the founders of data warehousing, “Data without context is meaningless. It is also valueless. Without a well-understood business context, any derived information and subsequent decisions are open to multiple interpretations or, worse, misinterpretation. It is the context—and, by extension, a Business Directory that manages this context— that promotes the value and virtue of data.”

Data, Data Everywhere, Self-Service BI Can Help

Businesses that successfully leverage their data will be the leaders. Those who don’t will fall behind.

However analytics, big data, the cloud and the Internet of Everything are are drastically changing today’s data landscape. Gone are the days when business users would ask for information and wait patiently for IT to modify the data warehouse and then write the new reports.

To gain the insights required for competitive success, business users today visualize and analyze data without IT’s help using a new class of easy-to-use, self-service business intelligence (BI) tools such as Qliktech, Spotfire, Pentaho and Tableau, as well as the increasingly powerful and ubiquitous Excel.

However finding and accessing that data remains a big challenge. From the business user point of view, data lacks proper business context, thus obscuring its relevance. Instead data is too distributed, too diverse, too IT-focused in how it is described, organized, and stored.

As with self-service BI for visualization and analysis, business users today are seeking self-service approaches to finding, understanding and accessing data. This requires not only new tools that provide data in a business context, but also a new approach to business and IT collaboration.

Business Directory -- Self-Service Data for Business 

On October 1, 2014 at Data Virtualization Day 2014 in New York City, Cisco introduced Business Directory, as part of Cisco Information Server 7.0 (CIS 7.0), the latest version of our flagship data virtualization offering.

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Business Directory is the first data virtualization offering designed exclusively for business self-service. Through a business context lens, users apply search and categorization techniques to quickly find and understand the data they’re looking for. From there, they can use their self-service BI tool of choice to query it. The result is far faster time to insight which translates to better business outcomes sooner.

With Business Directory, business and IT align the people, processes and technology for competitive success. IT provides secure, curated, business-context organized data sets to the business, with business adding domain knowledge and analytic value on the path to insight.

 

Learn More

For a third party point of view on the benefits of Business Directory’s, download Dr. Barry Devlin’s recent white paper, Putting Data In Business Context: The Value and Virtue of a Business Directory.

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

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Cisco to expand portfolio of SAP HANA Mission-Critical Platform Solutions

Cisco introduces an 8 Socket SAP HANA Server

Today, Cisco expanded their portfolio of server products for SAP HANA Solutions with the certification of an 8 socket C880 SAP HANA Server.  This server will be used exclusively for SAP Analytics and Suite on HANA workloads.

With this expansion of the server product line, Cisco provides a one-stop shop for their complete SAP architecture which includes Cloud, (Enterprise, Intercloud, Private, and Hybrid Cloud), Compute, Management, and IT Process Automation (ITPA).  The Cisco server expansion will also highlight how Cisco’s eco-partners may augment their SAP workloads on Cisco certified platforms Read More »

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IoE is the Path to Gartner’s ‘All Things Digital’

This week, I had the opportunity to focus on digital business as an attendee and presenter at Gartner’s ITxpo in Orlando, Fla. It was a sold out crowd with 8,500 attendees and approximately 2,700 CIOs. And one insight that seemed to resonate with the audience was Gartner’s belief that by 2018, digital business will require 50 percent fewer business process workers and 500 percent more key digital business jobs.

At the ITxpo discussing how the Internet of Everything helps enable all things digital

At the ITxpo discussing how the Internet of Everything enables the transition to Gartner’s  All Things Digital

We already live in a world that is rapidly connecting people, process, data, and things in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. I believe that IoE is a key driver of this transition and a fundamental stepping stone to making “All Things Digital.”

Gartner defines All Things Digital as “blurring the physical and digital worlds to create new business designs.” Interestingly, Gartner focuses on people, business, and things, but omits process. Gartner’s view is that process will happen dynamically and be measured in not months or weeks, but nanoseconds. While this is a true statement, it reflects the end goal. The key question is, how does an enterprise become digitally enabled?

A first step in transitioning to All Things Digital, is embracing IoE by lighting up “dark assets.” A dark asset is something that is currently not connected to the Internet. A dark asset in itself however, does not create value.  ln All Things Digital, connected devices begin to talk with other connected devices. These devices interact with one another dynamically, which in turn creates processes in just nanoseconds. In this environment, IoE allows you to understand what process to focus on and which assets to connect. In other words, IoE is the pathway to Gartner’s All Things Digital.  The overarching goal is business outcomes. One retail example is connecting a parking lot to a retail store. In a recent trial, we found that data from parking lot sensors, when analyzed correctly, can predict when checkouts will get busy, so that more cashiers can be deployed. There are many other dark assets in a retail environment that have the potential to increase revenue, lower costs, and grow margins once they are lit up.

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Cisco’s Software Journey

Last week I attended the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, where the theme of the event was “Driving Digital Business.” One of the key themes was the Internet of Everything (IoE) as well as some of the key enabling trends like mobility, cloud, big data, and analytics. A lot of attention was focused on  the changing role of the CIO and how in this new generation of IT, CIOs need to become better equipped to help drive the digitization of the business. In particular, there was discussion around the importance of the user experience, whether customer or employee, and the emergence of “Chief Digital Officers” to oversee the full range of digital strategies to transform businesses as their products evolve digitally.

It’s clear that cloud, mobility, IoE, and big data analytics are fundamentally changing the business landscape in which we operate today. They are leveling the playing field and triggering business outcome-based innovation and investment in IT.  And software-driven solutions are key to driving innovation in any organization.

This is precisely why I joined Cisco just over a year ago: to develop Cisco’s software strategy and accelerate growth of our software businesses. Cisco is positioned to have a massive impact in this market, and I’m excited to play a role in addressing some of the challenges in this space through software – whether that’s in collaboration, across our traditional core businesses in network infrastructure, data center, or mobility.

Today, Cisco’s software journey is well under way. Based on revenues from our software products and services, we already rank as the 5th largest software company in the world. We’ve grown from the 7th largest enterprise SaaS vendor in 2012 to now the 3rd largest SaaS vendor by revenue in 2014.  Nine out of 10 of our most recent acquisitions have been companies driven by software.

What does this mean for our customers? It means they can rely on Cisco to innovate faster, provide richer employee and customer experiences, connect the unconnected, and use big data analytics to gain new insights.

In the coming weeks, you’ll hear more from me and my team about how we’re helping to accelerate and bring about this software transformation at Cisco across our entire portfolio of products and services. You’ll hear how we’re radically changing the way our customers and partners consume, manage, and use our software products and how we’re bringing more application-centric and cloud-ready infrastructure to market.

What do you think about software at Cisco? Let me know in the comments below.

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