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How Data Virtualization Helps Data Scientists

By now it is clear that big data analytics opens the door to unprecedented analytic opportunities for business innovation, customer retention and profit growth. However, a shortage of data scientists is creating a bottleneck as organizations move from early big data experiments into larger scale adoption. This constraint limits big data analytics and the positive business outcomes that could be achieved.

Jason Hull

Click on the photo to hear from Comcast’s Jason Hull, Data Integration Specialist about how his team uses data virtualization to get what they need done, faster

It’s All About the Data

As every data scientist will tell you, the key to analytics is data. The more data the better, including big data as well as the myriad other data sources both in the enterprise and across the cloud. But accessing and massaging this data, in advance of data modeling and statistical analysis, typically consumes 50% or more of any new analytic development effort.

• What would happen if we could simplify the data aspect of the work?
• Would that free up data scientists to spend more time on analysis?
• Would it open the door for non-data scientists to contribute to analytic projects?

SQL is the key. Because of its ease and power, it has been the predominant method for accessing and massaging data for the past 30 years. Nearly all non-data scientists in IT can use SQL to access and massage data, but very few know MapReduce, the traditional language used to access data from Hadoop sources.

How Data Virtualization Helps

“We have a multitude of users…from BI to operational reporting, they are constantly coming to us requesting access to one server or another…we now have that one central place to say ‘you already have access to it’ and they immediately have access rather than having to grant access outside of the tool” -Jason Hull, Comcast

Data virtualization offerings, like Cisco’s, can help organizations bridge this gap and accelerate their big data analytics efforts. Cisco was the first data virtualization vendor to support Hadoop integration with its June 2011 release. This standardized SQL approach augments specialized MapReduce coding of Hadoop queries. By simplifying access to Hadoop data, organizations could for the first time use SQL to include big data sources, as well as enterprise, cloud and other data sources, in their analytics.

In February 2012, Cisco became the first data virtualization vendor to enable MapReduce programs to easily query virtualized data sources, on-demand with high performance. This allowed enterprises to extend MapReduce analyses beyond Hadoop stores to include diverse enterprise data previously integrated by the Cisco Information Server.

In 2013, Cisco maintained its big data integration leadership with updates of its support for Hive access to the leading Hadoop distributions including Apache Hadoop, Cloudera Distribution (CDH) and Hortonworks (HDP). In addition, Cisco now also supports access to Hadoop through HiveServer2 and Cloudera CDH through Impala.

Others, beyond Cisco, recognize this beneficial trend. In fact, Rick van der Lans, noted Data Virtualization expert and author, recently blogged on future developments in this area in Convergence of Data Virtualization and SQL-on-Hadoop Engines.

So if your organization’s big data efforts are slowed by a shortage of data scientists, consider data virtualization as a way to break the bottleneck.

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Understanding Your Customers – Cisco FSI’s Key Takeaways From Retail Banking 2014

We recently attended Retail Banking 2014 in Orlando, FL, where a wealth of information and best practices were shared, with much of the focus on how the banking industry is moving forward with the evolution of the customer experience. This year’s conference focused on the issues that bankers must deal with now and in the future:  revenue growth, branch optimization, digital banking, analytics, the evolution of social media, and of course, Omnichannel.

I have highlighted below a few of the key concepts and quotes from the speakers at the conference that you might find interesting. Read More »

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Keeping in Tune: Simpler Collaboration From Any Device

Did you know that the Guns N’ Roses anthem Sweet Child O’ Mine was originally written as a practice guitar riff?

A friend told me this as I recently struggled to play it, making sounds closer to ‘chopsticks’ than to one of the most famous guitar tracks ever created.

The fact that I was playing a borrowed guitar may have made it more difficult, though. Playing a familiar instrument is so much easier, if only because you know its foibles! Read More »

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What the Internet of Everything Means for Insurance

©Michael Tompert  2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data

©Michael Tompert 2012 / from The Human Face of Big Data

Moving to one-to-one relationships: It’s incredible to think about the impact and influence. Cisco predicts $14.4 trillion of value will be “at stake” over the next decade, driven by “connecting the unconnected” through the Internet of Everything (IoE). IoE triggers a 19 trillion dollar global opportunity based upon the growth statistics of more than a 7.2 billion population, with an average of 3.47 devices per person, yielding more than 25 billion IP connected devices all by 2015, growing to 50 billion by 2020. TED Talks keynote speaker, Rick Smolan, author of The Human Face of Big Data, comments, “It’s like the earth is growing a nervous system.”

How does this impact the insurance industry? On a one-to-one level, customer’s cars, houses and human anatomy (e.g. Fit Bit) can all be connected; providing critical information about risk and rewards in real-time. In the distribution channels, it can change the way carriers, agents and brokers conduct business, both virtually and face to face. Read More »

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Like Chocolate and Peanut Butter, Some Things Are Better Together

Collaboration is an inherently social concept. It’s about people and connection. It’s about communicating, working together, interacting to meet goals, accomplishing tasks, innovating, and creating. Just as people have unique personalities, so do the ways they collaborate for business, whether 1:1 or in groups, in structured meetings or hallway conversations, sitting at desks or on park benches, in real-time conversations or long-term interactions.

As technology evolves and geography becomes less relevant to connecting with others, the options for how we collaborate multiply. And multiply again.  But technology itself is an enabler of collaboration, the value is in the connections that people make – with each other, information, and ideas.

Finding ways to improve the connections between people and the information they need to share is critical to improving business. From our perspective we want the technology to disappear; providing the ability for people to interact in the ways they interact best, wherever they are.

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”―Helen Keller

We see great value in providing social solutions to our customers. Bringing together social networking with communications technology provides people with the means to collaborate and gives them flexibility to do the best work they can. Like Helen Keller, we believe people working together can achieve extraordinary things. We believe the same is true of companies.

Increasingly, organizations are looking for ways to integrate social solutions into their collaboration tools and business processes. Throughout the past decade, Cisco has continued to weave social into the fabric of our own collaboration portfolio.  At the same time, we continuously looked for opportunities to collaborate with other companies to integrate new technologies and improve what we can offer our customers – bringing the best of the best together to provide our customers with the ideal solution to fit their business needs.

Today I am happy to announce that we are entering a relationship with Jive Software
Read More »

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