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Welcome to Cisco’s Analytics & Automation blog platform!

We see our customers across a range of industries are striving to become digital enterprises. Easier said than done in today’s hyper distributed environments. With over 14 billion devices online today and 50 billion expected by 2020, the exponential increase of data is being created by people and processes connecting from everywhere. It is becoming harder to reach that data, AM27042secure that data, and much less draw an insight and enable a person or process to take action on the data. The ability to secure, aggregate, automate, and draw insights from an organization’s own data – with speed – will define value for that organization.

At Cisco, we are making investments in software for analytics and automation to enable our customers to pull data from everywhere for real-time insights, integrate and automate increasingly complex systems and processes, and engage people in context. This is what it means to be a digital enterprise. This new blog platform will serve as an open forum for discussion on multiple topics related to analytics and automation, news and updates from Cisco as well as stories of success from our customers and partners.

I encourage you to actively participate by sharing your own challenges, best practices and topics you would like to see explored.


Join the Conversation

Follow @MikeFlannagan and @CiscoAnalytics.

Learn More from My Colleagues

Check out the blogs of Mala Anand, Kevin OttJim McDonnell, Dave Goddard, Bob EveNicola Villa and Hari Harikrishnan to learn more.

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Connected Analytics: Learn to Live on the Edge – and Love It!

Not surprisingly, as a networking company Cisco frequently publishes predictions on the growth of Internet traffic. Bragging unintended, typically the forecasts are pretty accurate. In a 2012 report we predicted that by 2017 there would be 2.5 devices and related connections for every person on earth, while there would be 5 devices and related connections for every Internet user in the same year. In the same report, we also predicted that this burst in hyperconnectivity – including machine to machine connections that are increasingly prevalent with growth of the Internet of Things (IoT) – would create more global network traffic in 2017 alone than in all prior “Internet years” combined.

How correct were our predictions? You don’t have to wait until 2017 for an answer. Welcome to the early arrival of the future of networked communications – a future where the hyper-distribution of information is driving new business demands, and where the old rules of data management and analytics no longer apply. Data is no longer passive. Central stores of stale information aren’t sufficient. Analytics can’t be an afterthought. The new rules require that you live your business daily on the edge of your network, where vital customer and market data is created. And you need to be prepared to respond to what you learn immediately. Are you ready to live on the edge?

The Future is Now . . . Like it or Not

Pervasive connectivity and ubiquitous cloud services have reset user expectations for all types of products and services. A wider and wider variety of connected endpoints combined with mobile and cloud service delivery expands both the kinds and types of data generated by and about users, as well as the devices and the processes that connect them. Data may come from various sources – operations, infrastructure, sensors, etc. Machine intelligence will become better and better, replacing human reasoning in some cases.  And, like humans, machines will develop deeper and deeper insights through continuous learning over time. The good news is that increasingly intelligent machines will free humans for even bigger thinking – and the process will keep repeating itself – machines and humans cooperating for a more intelligent whole.

But the network’s edge ultimately belongs to the end-user. Consumers are well positioned to define and demand a technology experience that meets their specific requirements. Enterprises undergoing digital transformation understand this. Using IT automation, these companies are moving intelligence and analytics to the edge of the network to understand how to benefit from this new perspective.  Put simply, analysis is moving to where the data is generated for instant business insights.

The list of challenges for companies coping with the nature and the speed of digital transformation is a long one. Here are a few of the most critical:

  • The variety of data on the network increases with every new application used
  • High velocity, valuable information from market data, mobile, sensors, clickstream, transactions and other sources requires a new approach to data management
  • Almost universal connectivity has reset user expectations for all types of services
  • Data insights are often perishable and need to be acted on immediately
  • Competitive pressures and increasing customer expectations require that businesses anticipate customer needs, react instantly, and make decisions in real-time

Click image to view a larger version of this graphic

Shape the Edge to Your Requirements

Enterprises of all kinds are responding to these challenges in innovative ways to gain competitive advantage. One example is retailers, which I profiled in an earlier blog on the future of shopping. Merchants understand that the longer a shopper remains in a store the more likely the prospect is to purchase. So, if a retailer can increase a shopper’s “dwell time,” it is more likely to stimulate a purchase.  We’re seeing retailers do this today as they measure where, how and why buyers make decisions on the path to purchase starting at the network’s edge. Through customized applications that permit the retailer to analyze real-time customer engagement with products or in-store displays, the retailer gains immediate insights that let it customize a promotional offer by individual and then push the offer instantly to the consumer’s device. This sort of personalized interaction also creates a better customer experience.

From a service provider’s perspective, knowing the habits of your mobile customers can help it improve service delivery, lower costs and enhance customer loyalty. Again, this knowledge starts at the edge of the network by analyzing continuous feedback on the use habits of mobile subscribers. For example, a service provider can determine unique and new clients, analyze usage by day, week or month, gather active session information to identify network usage patterns or manage promotional programs, determine authenticated vs. unauthenticated associations to identify potential subscribers, or grab information on total data usage to pinpoint network anomalies or usage spikes. These and other edge measurements can then be further analyzed for trends. Automation enables the analysis. The analysis, in turn, creates fast decision-making, which leads to concrete business outcomes.

The Way Forward . . .

If you believe living on the edge is vital to your business, it’s important to have a strategic framework in which to manage your digital transition. First, think of your analytics’ needs in three parts:  1. Real time analysis; 2. Data management; 3. Flexibility of use. Then, demand that the analytics solution you choose to move forward with addresses the requirements for each part as I describe below:

1. Real Time Analysis

  • Real-time trending
  • Dynamic dashboards
  • Predictive analytics integration
  • Continuous queries
  • Event generation

2. Data Management

  • Ability to combine information from network and applications
  • Seamlessly query live and historic data
  • Historic reporting framework

3. Flexibility

  • Analysis of complex queries from fact streams and dimensional data
  • North/south and east/west interfaces for customization
  • Multi-vendor extensibility

Living on the edge of your network doesn’t have to be intimidating. In fact, you’ll come to like the speed at which you’ll find new business insights. Cisco can help in your transformation to a digital business with automation and analytics at its core. I plan to share more on this topic at the Cisco Data and Analytics Conference  on October 20-22 in Chicago. I hope you can join me at that time.

Meanwhile, I’m interested to hear how you feel about the importance of managing and analyzing data at the edge of your network. What are the issues and opportunities that you see?

Please feel free to comment, share and connect with us @CiscoEnterpriseFacebookLinkedIn and the Enterprise Networks Community.

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Creating and Capturing Value To Thrive in a Digital World

By 2020, 75% of business will become digital in some way by deploying solutions that leverage the intersection of people, process, data, and things—the very definition of the Internet of Everything (IoE). For example, IoE will drive an improvement of earnings before taxes and interest (EBIT) of 15.6% in retail, 14.5% in financial services, and 12.8% in manufacturing.

Connected Devices and Sensors Everywhere

The rapid adoption of IoE and the Internet of Things (IoT) has driven the number of connected devices into the billions worldwide. Cisco’s own estimate shows there are 25 billion connected devices today, and will be 50 billion by 2020.

While sheer the number of devices grabs the headlines, there is an even more powerful force at work that will add to the tremendous disruption CIOs and senior IT executives are experiencing across all industries. (For more about this disruption, please refer to my blog titled, The Digital Vortex: Relentless, Disruptive, Chaotic — and Empowering.)

The enduring impact of Moore’s Law and Metcalfe’s Law combined with unprecedented innovation is resulting in sensors that are changing the world to become hyper-aware, hyper-predictive, and hyper-agile. Cisco estimates that 54 billion sensors will be shipped this year.

Leading companies are using these new capabilities to do things like monitor and expedite the time it takes prepare planes for boarding, reduce customer wait times by predicting 40 minutes in advance when lines will become too long, increase factory production rates by ensuring workers always have the right tools at hand, and anticipate structural failures to save lives and reduce costs.

New Business Models and Value Creation

In this new environment, three digital business models are pointing the way forward: 1) Frictionless Life, 2) Hyper-Relevance, and 3) Community. Each model delivers a different type of value.

JBGartnerITExpoBlogPic Read More »

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Unleash Your Business Analysts Cisco Data Preparation

As the leader of Cisco’s Data Virtualization and Analytics Business Units, it is my pleasure to announce Cisco Data Preparation, a new big data and analytics offering for business analysts and IT.

What is Cisco Data Preparation?

Driven by Business’s accelerating demand for analytics, Cisco Data Preparation (Data Prep) makes it easy for non-technical business analysts to gather, explore, cleanse, combine and enrich the data that fuels these analytics.DataPrepDiagram1

Primarily designed as a self-service application for business analysts, Data Prep is also a valuable new capability for IT data developers and even data scientists, helping these teams collaborate to achieve the following benefits:

  • Faster Insights: New data sets available in minutes, not weeks.
  • More Comprehensive Insights: Gain advantage from all your data sources.
  • Better Business Outcomes at Scale: Supports hundred of data preparation projects at big data scale.
  • Higher Productivity, with Greater Governance: Both Business and IT gain from stronger collaboration.

Why will Business Analysts like Cisco Data Preparation?

Business Analysts can use Data Prep to address the significant data integration challenges they face when preparing analytic data sets using with a self-service approach.

  • Every analytic project is different making every data exploration effort unique. Cisco Data Prep’s Excel-like interface and machine learning lets analysts explore data freely.
  • Data is messy and everywhere. This results in analysts spending as much as 80% of their time preparing data before analysis can begin. Cisco Data Prep dramatically reduces time required to prepare data.
  • Too few Data Scientists and too long IT backlogs puts the onus on the Business adopt self-service. Cisco Data Preps empowers Business Analysts to do this work themselves.

Why will IT like Cisco Data Preparation?

IT can use Data Prep to work in concert with the business to intelligently balance self-service needs with governance constraints, while optimizing infrastructure.

  • Many requirements are short lived in contrast with IT’s industrial grade orientation. Cisco Data Prep helps IT and Business meet exploratory data needs with the right level investment and when needed even provide working prototypes that IT can quickly reengineer.
  • Independent, ungoverned data prep efforts can lead to duplication of effort, inconsistently transformed data sets of unclear origin, resulting in inaccurate analysis and potentially bad business results. Cisco Data Prep built-in governance and data set sharing increase trust.
  • Rogue data preparation activity in personal sandboxes and myriad tools, prevent IT from delivering scalable, secure infrastructure. Cisco Data Prep’s ability to massively scale allows IT so support thousands of users and multiple terabytes of data with a common, cost-effective infrastructure.

A Complete Data Preparation Solution, Only from Cisco

Cisco Data Preparation is a complete software, hardware and services solution that simplifies adoption and accelerates benefits.

  • Leveraging an easy-to-learn and use Excel-like interface and powerful machine intelligence algorithms from Cisco partner Paxata, Data Prep removes barriers to adoption and elevates business analysts’ skills.
  • Two-way integration with Cisco Data Virtualization helps leverage prior IT investments and closes the loop between the business and IT.
  • Data Prep’s massively scalable Hadoop and Spark-based architecture ensures that Data Prep users won’t be constrained by size of data sets or complexity of analysis.


Plus, a complete set of Cisco and Partner provided “Plan” and “Build” services ensure Data Prep implementation success.

Learn More About Cisco Data Preparation

There are lots of ways you can learn more about Data Prep. You can:

  • Join us at Strata+Hadoop World this week from September 29 through October 1 at the Javits Center in New York. Stop by Cisco Booth 425. There you can get a Data Prep demo from Cisco Sales Engineer Bill Kellett as well as attend with Cisco Data and Analytics Director Bob Eve and Paxata Product VP Nenshad Bardoliwalla.


  • Join us at the 2015 Data and Analytics Conference, October 20-22, at the Hilton Chicago. Register now and join my breakout session, “Data Preparation for Self-Service Analytics.”
  • Review the Cisco Data Preparation data sheet to learn more about Data Prep functionality.
  • Talk to your Cisco or Cisco partner account manager to arrange a conversation with a Cisco Data Preparation product specialist.
  • And look for upcoming blogs relating Cisco Data Preparation with Cisco UCS, Cisco Data Virtualization, Advanced Services and more. Stay tuned!


Join the Conversation

Follow @CicsoDataVirt and @CiscoAnalytics, #CiscoDAC.

Learn More from My Colleagues

Check out the blogs of Mala AnandMike FlannaganBob Eve and Nicola Villa to learn more.

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Enhancing the Splunk experience with Cisco UCS

According to scientists, the age of smartphones has left humans with such a short attention span that even a goldfish can hold a thought for longer. On an average, human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds in year 2000 to 8 seconds in today’s smart-world.

What does this mean for Splunk Enterprise ? Read More »

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