Big Data

Unlock Your Competitive Edge

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Unlock Your Competitive Edge

Big Data Solutions on Cisco UCS Common Platform Architecture (CPA)

Businesses mine vast stores of data for insights that can help identify trends, predict behavior, and empower decision makers. Cisco partners with leading software providers to offer a comprehensive infrastructure and management solution to support these key big data initiatives. Learn what big data means and how to support it with the Cisco UCS Common Platform Architecture (CPA).

Big Data Applications

Learn the network's role, and how these applications can boost your competitive edge. (PDF - 352 KB)

Building an Enterprise Data Hub

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Cisco Unlocks Value with Big Data

See how Cisco IT unlocks hidden business intelligence with Hadoop on UCS (PDF - 336 KB)

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Huge and growing amounts of information are flooding today's enterprises. This is largely due to the increasing number of people, businesses, and devices connected to the Internet. Thirty-three percent of the world's population now has Internet access, and the number of devices is currently estimated at 15 billion.

This has led to a major focus on big data, and on new methods of capturing, managing, and analyzing this flood of information. Enterprise investments in big data solutions center on software capable of making sense of the data deluge, such as:

  • Apache Hadoop framework
  • NoSQLdata management systems, or
  • Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) database analytics engines

In the big data world, enterprises have turned to Cisco UCS Rack servers, with direct, attached storage, Unified Fabic and Unified Management.

Simplified Integration of Architectures

Big data applications are fed by a wide array of unstructured and semi-structured data sources. That includes the Internet, PCs, smartphones, tablets, machines, social media, multimedia applications, and a variety of other connected devices. Cisco can easily and transparently integrate these new big data architectures into the traditional operational design that customers already have.

Key Cisco Big Data technologies include:

Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS)

Cisco UCS unifies computing, networking, management, virtualization, and storage access into a single integrated architecture. This unique fabric-based infrastructure helps to enable end-to-end server visibility, management, and control in both bare metal and virtual environments. It is an ideal platform for big data applications due to the exceptional performance, capacity, and manageability of the UCS solution.

Integrated Server Management

Cisco UCS Manager is an embedded, policy-based management system that helps IT administrators set a wide range of server configuration policies, from firmware and BIOS settings to network and storage connectivity. Individual servers can be deployed in less time and with fewer steps than in traditional environments. Automation frees staff from tedious, repetitive, time-consuming chores that are often the source of errors that cause downtime. This makes the entire data center more cost effective.

Integrated Network Management

The same network architecture can serve both traditional databases and big data solutions, and can be managed from a central location.

Integrated Data Management

Big data environments are pushing the performance limits of business processing solutions. With Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler, Cisco provides workload automation that facilitates the flow of data between a wide variety of applications like Hadoop, cutting costs, and increasing the value realized from big data.

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Cisco offers a comprehensive solution stack. The Cisco UCS Common Platform Architecture (CPA) for big data includes computing, storage, connectivity, and unified management capabilities. Unique to this architecture are transparent, simplified data and management integration with an enterprise application ecosystem.

The CPA is built on a Cisco UCS infrastructure using Cisco UCS 6200 Series Fabric Interconnects, Cisco Nexus 2200 Series Fabric Extenders, and Cisco UCS C-Series Rack Servers. Installed in pairs, the Fabric Interconnects offer redundant, active-active connectivity and embedded management using Cisco UCS Manager. The Cisco CPA supports up to 160 servers in a single switching domain. Scaling beyond 160 servers can be implemented easily by interconnecting multiple UCS domains using Cisco Nexus 6000 or 7000 Series Switches. This allows for scalability of thousands of servers and hundreds of petabytes of storage. It can all be managed from a single pane using Cisco UCS Central within a data center or across globally distributed data centers.

UCS Common Platform Architecture

The Cisco UCS CPA base rack solution is now available through the Cisco SmartPlay program, as shown in the table below. Customers can use the configurations as shown, or as a starting point to build larger clusters.

Get configuration details on Cisco Common Platform Architecture for Big Data.

Advantages of UCS CPA for Big Data:

  • High performance and scaling: UCS C240 M3 ideal for big data deployments
  • Ease of deployment: Rapid deployment of server using "service profiles"
  • Comprehensive manageability: Easy to manage and maintain entire cluster
  • Coexistence with enterprise applications: Transparent, simplified management and data integration
  • Enterprise-class service and support: Leading industry support from Cisco and its partners

Technology Partners

Cisco partners with leading software companies to bring big data solutions to market. The three types of big data analytics solutions that Cisco supports are Hadoop, NoSQL, and MPP databases.


Cisco has partnered closely with and has validated solutions with a number of Hadoop distributions, including Cloudera, HortonWorks, Intel, MapR, and Pivotal HD


Cisco partners offering NoSQL solutions that are supported on Cisco UCS currently include Oracle Database, MarkLogic, and DataStax.

Massively Parallel Processing (MPP)

Cisco currently partners with Greenplum Database from Pivotal Labs and ParAccel from Actian Corporation to offer Cisco UCS solutions for MPP relational databases.

Big Data's Role in Network Design

Learn about design considerations for the enterprise network.

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Network Architecture Tips

Get tips on best practices for Validated Network Architecture.

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In-Depth View of Hadoop

Understand Hadoop considerations for the data center in detail.

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Enterprise Hadoop Guidance

Review the Validated Network Reference Architecture for Hadoop in the enterprise.

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The requirements of traditional enterprise data models for application, database, and storage resources have grown over the years. As a result, the cost and complexity of these models has increased, prompting changes in the way big data is stored, analyzed, and accessed.

The new models are based on a scaled-out, shared-nothing architecture. This brings new challenges to enterprises, which need to decide what technologies to use and how. The traditional model is being expanded to incorporate new building blocks. They address the challenges of big data with new information processing frameworks purpose-built to meet big data's requirements.

An enormous amount of data is generated as a result of democratization and ecosystem factors, such as:

  • Mobility trends: Mobile devices, mobile events and sharing, and sensory integration
  • Data access and consumption: Internet, interconnected systems, social networking, and convergent interfaces and access models
  • Ecosystem capabilities: Major changes in the information processing model and the availability of an open source framework

Network Fabric Requirements and Big Data

A fundamental enterprise requirement is the ability of big data components to integrate alongside current business models. This integration of new, dedicated big data models can be completed transparently while using Cisco Nexus network infrastructures optimized for big data.

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More on Unified Fabric

  • Mobility trends: Mobile devices, mobile events and sharing, and sensory integration
  • Data access and consumption: Internet, interconnected systems, social networking, and convergent interfaces and access models (Internet, search and social networking, and messaging)
  • Ecosystem capabilities: Major changes in the information processing model and the availability of an open source framework; the general-purpose computing and unified network integration

Cisco UCS Director Express for Big Data

Cisco UCS Director Express for Big Data provides a single-touch solution that automates deployment of Hadoop on leading UCS CPA for Big Data infrastructure. It also provides a single management pane across both physical infrastructure and Hadoop software. All elements of the infrastructure are handled automatically with minimal user input. Through this approach, configuration of physical compute, storage, and networking infrastructure is integrated with the deployment of operating systems, Java packages, and Hadoop along with the provisioning of Hadoop services. It is also integrated with major Hadoop distributions to help ensure consistent and repeatable cluster configuration, relieving customers from manual operations.

Cisco UCS Director Express for Big Data offers:

Simplicity and Agility

Because the solution extends the service profile into the Hadoop application space, you gain a reliable and consistent mechanism to not only define the infrastructure, but also the Hadoop services running on the cluster. Hadoop admins get a systemwide perspective, which allows them to correlate Hadoop activity with network and compute activity on the Hadoop nodes.

Out-of-the-Box High Performance and Scalability

Built on top of UCS CPA for Big Data, this product delivers a Hadoop cluster designed for high performance and massive scalability.

Extensible and Programmable Management Framework

You can use the open northbound REST API to customize the solution, build add-on services, or integrate it with third-party applications.

Big data environments are pushing the performance limits of business processing solutions. Platforms such as Hadoop can help analyze large amounts of complex, unstructured data, but they require time-consuming management and can create service-level agreement (SLA) performance bottlenecks.

Cisco Tidal Enterprise Scheduler provides workload automation that facilitates the flow of data between a wide variety of applications like Hadoop, cutting costs and increasing the value realized from big data.

Cisco UCS Director Express

Cisco UCS Director Express

Get seamless automation and management for big data. (6:41 min)

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