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Unleashing IT, Big Data Special Edition
The start of a journey
Cisco and Intel®
partnering in innovation
How Cisco built a big data analytics platform and identified $40 million in new
The journey started two years ago with an open-ended objective: data
innovation. Cisco wanted to find new ways of creating and unearthing
value from the information scattered across the company and its various
technology systems. Not just structured data about customers, products,
and network activity, but unstructured data found in web logs, videos,
emails, documents, and images.
At the time, the big data movement was in its infancy. There were no
answers, no roadmaps. Only possibilities and hypothetical outcomes.
“We needed to come up with a use case that marries IT opportunity with
business opportunity,” says Piyush Bhargava, a Cisco IT distinguished
engineer who focuses on big data programs. “At the same time, we
wanted the platform to support any number of use cases, so it needed to
be broad, horizontal, and enterprise ready.”
Building the platform
To unlock the business intelligence hidden in globally distributed big
data, Cisco IT turned to Hadoop, an open-source software framework that
supports data-intensive, distributed applications.
“Hadoop behaves like an affordable supercomputing platform,” Bhargava
explains. “It moves compute resources to where the data is stored,
which mitigates the disk I/O bottleneck and provides almost linear
scalability. Hadoop enabled us to consolidate the islands of data scattered
throughout the company.”
If data consolidation is the first step, analytics are the second. Before it
could be achieved, however, Cisco IT needed to design and implement
an enterprise platform that could support appropriate service-level
agreements (SLAs) for availability and performance.
“Our challenge,” says Bhargava, “was adapting the open-source Hadoop
platform for the enterprise.”
Cisco IT built a Hadoop big data analytics platform using the Cisco®
Common Platform Architecture (CPA) for Big Data, which is based on
the Cisco Unified Computing System™ and Intel® Xeon® processors.
The platform provides high performance in a multitenant environment,
anticipating that internal users will continually find more use cases for
big data analytics. It also takes advantage of the Cisco Tidal Enterprise
Scheduler (TES) to facilitate job scheduling and workload automation.
With built-in connectors to Hadoop, TES minimizes programming and
debugging tasks and saves hours on each job.
Putting the first use case into production
The first big data analytics program in production at Cisco helps increase
revenue by identifying hidden opportunities for partners to sell services.
“Previously, we used traditional data warehousing techniques to analyze
the install base and identify opportunities for the next four quarters,” says
Srini Nagapuri, Cisco IT project manager. “But analysis took 50 hours, so
we could only generate reports once a week.”