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A personal big data journey

When I set out to plan a once in a lifetime US coast-to-coast round trip with a buddy of mine in a 40-year old single engine Cessna 172 aircraft under visual flight rules (VFR), it quickly became apparent to me that I was creating my very own personal big data project with a well-defined outcome.

Read on. I will explain what I mean by outcome.

Collecting data

The sheer amount of data I was collecting resulted in many spreadsheets with destination airport codes, elevations, traffic pattern altitudes and directions, runway lengths and configurations, radio frequencies and taxi procedures.


Just one of many data rich spreadsheets

It did not stop there: route planning included avoiding high terrain that I knew the aircraft – and pilot for that matter – would not muster, military operating areas and restricted airspace.

I researched seasonal weather trends along the planned route and destinations so I was well informed of what type of weather we could be confronted with along the way. Aircraft performance considerations were made: weight & balance, estimated time en-route, fuel consumption and cost, climb speeds, density and cruising altitudes, etc.

Finally, I spent countless hours on YouTube watching videos posted by like-minded general aviation pilots flying to the destination airports in my plan. I took notes and committed their shared experiences to memory. It was time well invested: I had a pretty good idea what to expect and what to avoid. It lifted any doubt or anxiety low-time pilots like myself often experience when flying to unfamiliar airports.

Getting organized

I organized all that data in a way that would allow me to make informed decisions about each flight.

  • On the ground I used the data to file flight plans, get updated weather briefings and quickly make informed ‘go’ or ‘no-go’ decisions.
  • In the air the, data I needed was easily accessible. It exponentially reduced my workload as pilot-in-command during all phases of flight, allowing me to focus on the fun stuff: aviating, navigating, and communicating with air-traffic control.

And that brings me back to the well-defined outcome for this trip: all this data – and more importantly – how I chose to use it gave me peace of mind that the outcome of each flight would result in a safe landing at each destination airport – one that my travel buddy and I could walk away from with smiles on our faces.

And smile we did

The result was an unforgettable experience: seeing the entire country from a unique perspective that only an airborne aircraft can deliver.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 11.05.03 AM

Flying over the Big Apple

Big Data, Big Opportunities

So here is my point: when it comes to big data projects, my personal big data journey pales in comparison to the amount of data an organization can collect and analyze to gain valuable insights to deliver better business outcomes or unique customer experiences.

The sky is the limit. But deciding on what data to collect, where, and how to store it – how to organize, manage and analyze all that data coming from an ever-increasing variety of sources requires careful consideration:

  • What insights are you expecting to gain from that data?
  • Where is that data coming from? Is it structured or unstructured data?
  • How do you manage that data securely in real-time?
  • How does it support game changing decision-making, add value to the business or create a unique experience for the customer that will have them coming back for more?

All that can no doubt be overwhelming, and unfortunately there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution.

But big data is real – it has become a business imperative. An absolute must if your business wants to remain relevant in your industry.

Statistics suggest that organizations and companies that successfully invest in, and execute on, a well-planned big data strategy will have a competitive edge over their industry peers. In some cases they will out perform them by 20%. Don’t take my word for it – just read the Gartner reports.

Or better yet, download the latest Unleashing IT Big Data edition. It is loaded with expert advice from leading Hadoop and analytics vendors that Cisco has partnered with to deliver custom tailored, validated, and secure big data solutions that easily scale as your business grows. It discusses strategies to help unlock that competitive edge. And it profiles organizations that are turning big data into big value today.

big data cover

So take a moment to subscribe to for full access to all of the contents. Unlike a single engine Cessna 172, it’s fast and free.

On Final

Jim McHugh recently posted this blog about a three-part virtual conference series on big data and analytics hosted jointly with Intel and several hadoop vendors. I think it’s worth a read and hope to see you attend our first session on June 17th. Check out the compelling agenda.

Also be sure to tune into Jim’s welcome video.

Last but not least, we are here to answer any and all questions you may have. Simply e-mail us at

May your big data journey take your business or organization to new heights and land it safely with a competitive edge.

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Get the Big Ideas behind Big Data and Analytics

Big data and analytics are not just buzzwords—they have become business imperatives. There are examples in just about every industry and vertical where organizations extracting valuable insight from their data and innovating faster, enhancing customer experiences, and becoming more relevant in the market. Organizations that don’t have a data strategy are starting to fall behind – fast.  Big Data and Analytics_McHugh52911

To help you develop an impactful big data strategy we are doing a series of 3 Big Data Virtual Conferences. These complimentary events give you a chance to get the insider perspective on how to capitalize on the data your organization is already gathering, without even leaving your desk.

The first event, coming up on June 17, focuses on data warehouse optimization. Parts two and three, focused on operational analytics and business analytics respectively, will follow on September 9 and October 7.

Why you should attend

These events will provide you with the opportunity to virtually interact directly with subject matter experts and engage with our big data solution partners by attending their sessions. Each session will feature interactive chats so you can get answers to tough questions, discuss challenges, and gain valuable insights that can help shape your big data strategy.

You’ll get a chance to hang out in the various booths located in the expo hall and download valuable assets to read through at your leisure, as well as join in some fun games.

The first conference in the series – focused on data warehouse optimization – will cover the following topics:

Boosting data warehousing cost-efficiency with Hadoop solutions and virtualization

  • Effectively managing your infrastructure amongst the constant influx of data
  • Increasing security through data warehousing best practices
  • Optimizing your data warehousing to easily create actionable analytics

The best part is that you won’t need to leave your desk, battle traffic and find a parking spot only to realize that you parked 15 minutes away from the venue and there is not a coffee shop in sight for that much needed caffeine boost.

Did I mention these events are free of charge?

Make your plans today to join us for this event.

Upcoming Virtual Conference Events

Part 1: Data Warehouse Optimization

June 17, 2015 | 11 am – 4 pm ET / 8 am – 1 pm PT

Find out how to build a data storage framework that reduces costs and enhances access.

Part 2: Operational Analytics September 9, 2015 | 11 am – 4 pm ET / 8 am – 1 pm PT

Explore how virtualized data integration helps bring together different types of data, from different sources, and position it for rapid analysis.

 Part 3: Business Analytics October 7, 2015 | 11 am – 4 pm ET / 8 am – 1 pm PT

Discover how to turn your data into information that enhances business outcomes.

Thank you and see you there,

Jim McHugh
VP UCS & Data Center Solutions Marketing

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Two Resources on Nexus Programmability

Class is in session

Class is in session

As I start to explore more and more information about Software-Defined Networking and Programmability in the Nexus portfolio, I’ve been fortunate that there have been a lot of people helping me learn along the way.  I thought I’d share some of these as it gave me a bit more insight into some of the more holistic perspectives that I’ve been trying to get my head wrapped around lately.

I’m still starting off at a rather high level, though I’m spending more and more time getting deeper into the tech. Every once in a while, though, I need to look up and make sure that I’m swimming in the right direction. It’s really easy to get mired in the details and forget the bigger picture. Read More »

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Next wave of data center innovation …

From the outset, Cisco Unified Fabric has been ahead of the curve and ahead of the market in its innovation and the value that it brings to Cisco customers. Its introduction brought about a profound shift to data center fabric: unification of the IP and storage networks.  Today it is foundational – a primary building block for cloud-based, virtualized data centers, providing architectural flexibility and consistent networking across physical, virtual, and cloud environments.

Customers know this too, as evidenced by Cisco’s continuous leadership in this market maintaining the #1 market share for Data Center Ethernet Switching with over 70% of the market*, and #1 in FCoE SAN Switching with 77% of the market**.

Continuing to innovate …
During Cisco Live Orlando last week, Cisco unveiled a two additions to its Unified Fabric portfolio: Dynamic Fabric Automation, which automates network provisioning and simplifies fabric management, and new Nexus 7700 Series switches, providing 40G/100G scalability and comprehensive feature set with new F3 modules.

Cisco also announced the vision for our revolutionary networking architecture with Application Centric Infrastructure.  Yet again, we are evolving our infrastructure to help IT departments dramatically simplify how they provision their data center resources (networking, servers, storage and services) that are critical to the performance of their applications. As we heard from Padmasree Warrior, “the Application Centric Infrastructure will give our customers the agility to deliver applications to end-users where they want, when they want, and to any device they want  – securely, rapidly, and at a lower cost.”

We continue to innovate as no other IT company does, providing the vision and technology to transform the data center. Tomorrow starts here.


*Source: Infonetics, Q1CY2013 DC Network Equipment Report  **Source: Dell’Oro, SAN Switching, Q2CY2013

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