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Standing out from the cloud: why agility is key in tomorrow’s TV

Nick Thexton 2012Written by Nick Thexton, Vice President and CTO, Service Provider Video Software and Solutions, Cisco

With almost a quarter of our waking time spent watching TV, video consumption is on a definite rise. Rather than competing, different devices and platforms are proving to complement each other, collectively contributing to that growth. But our digital lives are becoming more complex as we consume content in diverse ways across a growing number of screens. The chance of missing a programme, for example, is arguably greater than ever, but at the same time easier to overcome.

It’s a truth that’s prompting media organisations and service providers to recognise the value of improving and simplifying the user experience – providing viewers with the content that’s relevant to them, at the right time and place. Those primed for success are investing in technologies that deliver their content to more devices at the lowest incremental cost, cutting the time and complexity associated with enhancing multiscreen services.

But the companies winning in the TV arena are those who also recognise that consumers don’t always know exactly what they want beyond the short-term. Take tablets, for example – few could have foreseen the impact the iPad would have on TV viewing habits and the way we engage with content. Likewise, operators don’t have the luxury of being able to foresee which of their new services will resonate with subscribers. Paramount to success, therefore, is having Read More »

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Yvette Kanouff Joins Cisco to lead Service Provider Video Software and Solutions Organization

I am extremely pleased to announce Yvette Kanouff is joining Cisco to become leader of our service provider Video Software and Solutions (SPVSS) organization, the home of Cisco’s Videoscape software and solutions for pay-TV service providers and media and entertainment companies.

Yvette is joining Cisco from Cablevision Systems where she was most recently executive vice president of corporate engineering and technology, responsible for the implementation of strategic technology and critical engineering priorities; identifying emerging technology opportunities and driving the development and integration of new products.

Yvette is a terrific leader and I’m thrilled she’s joining our team. As many of you in the industry will know, she was recently recognized with an auspicious 2014 Vanguard Award for Leadership in Science and Technology by the National Cable Telecommunications Association

Prior to joining Cablevision, Yvette served as President of SeaChange where she led their transition from a hardware company to a software company, helping to move the industry towards web centric, open standards-based solutions and architectures. While with SeaChange, she won an Emmy for the company’s work on video-on-demand. Previously, Yvette also served as Time Warner Cable’s Director of Interactive Technologies. She holds several patents on VOD-related digital technologies.

I’m sure you, our customers and business partners, will be looking forward to meeting Yvette once she joins us June 16th. In the interim, she asked me to pass on this message from her:

“I’m thrilled to be joining Cisco at such an exciting time for our industry. Cisco is playing the most crucial role it ever has in helping service providers deliver new experiences, new consumption models, and to compete with myriad new entertainment and service options. During my time at Cablevision we made tremendous progress on key technological advancements that enabled us to provide significant value to our customers and move the industry forward. I believe Cisco also has the people, the technology and culture to help our customers win. I’m looking forward to joining the team!”

As the leader of SPVSS, Yvette will have responsibility for a business that spans end-to-end Videoscape software and solutions, including content protection, cloud video services and delivery, and end-user multiscreen experiences.

Welcome to Cisco, Yvette!

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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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