Cisco Makes Move Into Data Preparation Space

The networking vendor is partnering with Paxata to offer organizations a platform designed to enable users to get data ready for analysis.


Cisco Systems has been making a strong push into the data analytics field over the past year, part of its larger effort to become the foundational technology provider for the booming Internet of things.

The tens of billions of devices, systems and sensors worldwide that will connect to the Internet over the next several years will generate massive amounts of data that will be useless unless organizations can quickly collect and analyze it, and then make sound business decisions based on the analysis.

Now Cisco is getting into another part of the process: data preparation.

At the Strata + Hadoop World 2015 show in New York City Sept. 29, the networking vendor announced it was partnering with Paxata to create the Cisco Data Preparation platform, which will offer hardware, software and services that will help businesses more easily gather, cleanse, combine and enrich the data to get it ready for analysis.

The self-service platform can help business analysts, data developers and data scientists gain faster and more comprehensive insights into the data and get better business outcomes by supporting hundreds of data preparation projects, according to Kevin Ott, senior director and general manager of the Data Virtualization Business Unit within Cisco's Data and Analytics Business Group.

It also enables the IT and business sides of an organization to more closely collaborate to improve productivity and governance, Ott wrote in a post on the company blog.

The Cisco Data Preparation solution uses Paxata's platform as a foundation of the jointly developed offering. Paxata's platform includes a simple interface and machine-intelligence algorithms that business analysts can use to comb through the data before it hits an analytics solution. Cisco's platform uses a Hadoop- and Spark-based architecture for scalability and the vendor's data virtualization technology to help companies use systems already in their data centers and to make it easier for business and IT professionals to collaborate.

In addition, Cisco is using its Unified Computing System (UCS) as the infrastructure for the platform.

"As a key pillar in Cisco's broader big data and analytics portfolio, Paxata will expand Cisco's reach by bringing data preparation to a much larger business-facing audience leveraging a state-of-the-art big data processing platform that meets IT's requirements for scale and governance," Paxata co-founder and CEO Prakash Nanduri said in a statement. "Additionally, the joint value proposition of Paxata's platform running on Cisco's UCS hardware completely changes the economics of computing in the data center in a truly disruptive way."

Cisco officials expect that the number of connected devices—from home appliances and industrial systems to wearable technology, cars and drones—will double from 25 billion last year to more than 50 billion by 2020. The Internet of things (IoT) will rely heavily on network connectivity, of which Cisco officials said the company will be the primary supplier. They also want to be the company that organizations use to analyze the data generated by the connected devices.

In December 2014, the networking vendor rolled out a broad portfolio of data analytics offerings aimed at a range of markets—from retail and telecommunications to events and mobility—and positioned to address data wherever it is, whether in the data center or at the edge, where the devices sit.

Cisco has since made other moves in the space, including adding IoT and analytics startups to its entrepreneur program, unveiling a software-as-a-service (SaaS) analytics solution—Mobility IQ—for service providers, and entering into resale agreements with Hadoop distributors Cloudera, Hortonworks and MapR Technologies.