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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.

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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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Where is Cisco Data Virtualization Going in 2015?

Welcome to 2015!

If you are like me, the New Year is a great opportunity to assess where I am at and where I am going.  So let’s do that for Cisco Data Virtualization.

2014 – A Year of Exciting New Products

Before looking ahead at 2015, let’s first take a look at 2014 highlights.

2014 was an incredible year for new Cisco Data Virtualization products:

  • In 2014, we shipped Cisco Information Server (CIS) 7.0, a major release of our flagship data virtualization offering. CIS 7.0 extended data virtualization to new audiences, enabled larger, more-complex deployments and integrated more data sources so our customers can run their businesses more effectively by leveraging all of their data.
  • On the big data front, we announced Cisco Big Data Warehouse Expansion, a new offering that combines hardware, software and services to help customers control the costs of their ever-expanding data warehouses by offloading infrequently used data to low-cost big data stores. Analytics are enriched as more data is retained and all data remains accessible.
  • And with our December 11, 2014, Connected Analytics Portfolio announcement, Cisco added a rich suite of analytics solutions that help organizations capture insights that create new opportunities, simplify business operations, enhance the customer experience, and resolve potential threats.

2014 Adoption Success

2014 was full of amazing Customer Adoption successes as well.  The individuals who drove a number of these successes were recognized with Data Virtualization Leadership Awards at the fifth annual Data Virtualization Day on October 1st at New York’s Waldorf Astoria.

  • Paul Dzacko, Lead Architect, Risk Systems, BMO and James Evans, Architect & Project Manager, Client Portal, HSBC were awarded Data Virtualization Champion Awards in recognition of their leadership in consistently achieving and promoting data virtualization’s value across their organizations and the broader data integration market.
  • Victor Campbell, Principal Architect, Long Island Power Authority (PSEG) received the High Impact Award in recognition of data virtualization leadership in an environment where the result was high impact and critical to the business.
  • Pratima Botcha, Sr. Technical Architect, Information Technology, AT&T Services was given the High Impact Award for her work in enhancing business agility through use of data virtualization technology and methods, rapidly establishing a path for high value across the organization.

2015 Will Be Bigger Than Ever

In 2015 the pace of change across the enterprise data landscape will continue to accelerate, disrupting how organizations compete.

The biggest driver of change is massive messy data everywhere, spanning many sources – cloud, data warehouses, devices – and formats – video, voice, text, and images.  This distributed data landscape increasingly relies on data virtualization to bring order to the chaos.

To meet these needs in 2015 and beyond, Cisco Data Virtualization’s strategy is multi-faceted including:

  • Simplify Use And Adoption – To provide agile data access to today’s self-service business users, Cisco will expand beyond Business Directory, which was data virtualization’s first offering developed exclusively for business users.
  • Expand Data Virtualization’s Core – To address more sources and higher volumes and more, Cisco will continue to broaden our platform to scale reliably for the largest workloads and most complex requirements.
  • Leverage Cisco Technology – Fortunate to be part of Cisco, we will take advantage of a broad range of Cisco offerings including our Nexus interconnect capabilities, UCS servers, software such as Tidal Enterprise Scheduler and more.
  • Bring Data Virtualization’s Benefits to Big Data – Cisco Data Virtualization will continue to strengthen big data deployments with significant data abstraction, federation, directory, delivery, security and governance functions.
  • Enable Intercloud and Internet of Everything (IoE) – As Cisco pioneers new Intercloud and IoE solutions, Cisco Data Virtualization capabilities will expand to meet these new challenges.

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Beyond capability advancements, Cisco will greatly expand our coverage, partnerships, Customer Advisory Community and more as we go to market globally.  Stay tuned to this blog throughout 2015 as we make formal announcements.

Happy New Year!

 

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Cisco Connects Data and Analytics

Billions of devices are changing how organizations compete and disrupting traditional data management and analytics.

This Internet of Everything world presents an exciting new opportunity to discover and take advantage of market, customer, and operational insights. And by making sense of captured data quickly, organizations can take action at that point, in that moment, in ways that differentiate versus competitors and drive significant new business value.   TimeWarnerCable’s intelligent home initiative is one example.

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But all this data is massive, messy, and everywhere, spanning many sources – cloud, data warehouses, devices – and formats – video, voice, text, and images.  To address this challenge, new solutions beyond traditional data warehousing and even big data are required.

Cisco Enters the Data and Analytics Market

When Cisco acquired data virtualization market leader Composite Software in mid 2013, Cisco signaled a clear intent to begin connecting this data via intelligent networking the same way it connected LANs; the Internet; voice and video over IP; and more in it’s 30 year history.

And with our December 11, 2014, Connected Analytics Portfolio announcement, Cisco adds a rich suite of analytics solutions that help organizations capture insights that create new opportunities, simplify business operations, enhance the customer experience, and resolve potential threats.

New Methods for the New Challenges

Today’s analytic solutions need to advance beyond traditional methods that move data to a warehouse or data lake before commencing analysis.  Cisco’s Connected Analytics Portfolio provides analytics with immediate access to data, as well as brings analytics to the data – no matter where the data resides on the network.

Further, Cisco is uniquely qualified to implement analytics at the point of data, because so much of the data worldwide resides on our networks, providing the ideal platform for embedded analytics.  Along with 30 years of networking experience, Cisco now has the data and analytics tools, software, and services to help our customers instantly capture, analyze, and interpret critical data out to the network edge.

 

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Visit our Data and Analytics website to learn more.

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Transparently Offloading Data Warehouse Data to Hadoop using Data Virtualization

More data allows for better and more expansive analysis. And better analysis is a critical success factor for businesses today.

But most data warehouses use the once-in-never-out principle when storing data. So whenever new business activities occur, new data is added without removing old data to make room. New data sources, such as data from social media networks, open data sources, and public web services further expand the warehouse. Unfortunately, all this growth comes at a cost.

Is there a way you can have your cake and eat it too?

With Hadoop and Cisco Big Data Warehouse Expansion, you can.

Disadvantages of More Data

While everyone understands the business advantage that can be derived from analyzing more data, not everyone understands the disadvantages that can occur including:

  • Expensive data storage: Data warehouse costs include hardware costs, management costs, and database server license fees.  These grow in line with scale.
  • Poor query performance: The bigger the database tables, the slower the queries.
  • Poor loading performance: As tables grow, loading new data also slows down.
  • Slow backup/recovery: The larger the database, the longer the backup and restore process.
  • Expensive database administration: Larger databases require more database administration including tuning and optimizing the database server, the tables, the buffer, and so on.

Three Options to Control Costs

The easiest way to control data warehouse costs is to simply remove data, especially the less-frequently used or older data. But then this data can no longer be analyzed.

Another option is to move the lesser-used data to tape. This option provides cost savings, and in an emergency, the data can be reloaded from tape. But analysis has now become EXTREMELY difficult.

The third option is to offload lesser-used data to cheaper online data storage, with Hadoop the obvious choice. This provides a 10x cost savings over traditional databases, while retaining the online access required for analysis.

This is the “have your cake and eat it too” option.

The Fast Path to Transparent Offloading

Cisco provides a packaged solution called Cisco Big Data Warehouse Expansion, which includes the data virtualization software, hardware, and services required to accelerate all the activities involved in offloading data from a data warehouse to Hadoop.

And to help you understand how it works, Rick van der Lans, data virtualization’s leading independent analyst, recently wrote a step-by-step white paper, Transparently Offloading Data Warehouse Data to Hadoop using Data Virtualization, that explains everything you need to do.

Read The White Paper

Download Transparently Offloading Data Warehouse Data to Hadoop using Data Virtualization here.

 

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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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