Cisco’s XML-Driven Virtual Data Warehouse

When Cisco rolled out its AON (Application-Oriented Networking), it added a new dimension to enterprise web services. AON will use XML, HTTP and related web services, to turn an existing network into a virtual data warehouse. IDN speaks with Mike Carter, co-founder of CXO Systems, Cisco's key XML partner for AON, to learn how web services can offer easy-to-access, real-time views of 100s of queries.

Tags: Network, Business, Cisco, XML, AON, Data Warehouse, Carter,

When Cisco rolled out its AON (Application-Oriented Networking), the company may have changed the face of network hardware. AON's most-touted bell-and-whistle is a visibility dashboard, which is designed to provide apps managers - not network managers - a real-time view of how their business software is running.

IDN spoke with Mike Carter, co-founder of CXO Systems, Cisco's key XML partner for bringing up-the-stack capabilities to AON.

CXO, based in Waltham, Mass., has worked with Cisco engineers to integrate the CXO "visibility dashboard" technology for real-time business and risk intelligence. In specific, CXO's software bring to Cisco's networking hardware a data and intelligence layer, as well as a wizard-driven toolkit that gives application devs a way to bring new business-driven management and visibility apps to network users and admins.

"What we're saying is that now Cisco can sense XML, and that means an enterprise can get visibility into their business data much cheaper and faster than ever. So rather than spend $3 million on an expensive data warehouse or network software company customized solution, you can get it down for 1/5 that cost and much less time using in-house developers," Carter told IDN.

CXO Systems predictive risk management dashboards coordinate risk-related initiatives into a holistic view enabling better business performance. Through CXO Systems' patent-pending Service Oriented Architecture, static data becomes flowing intelligence across systems.

CXO Systems browser-based dashboard software enables real-time alerts, continuous monitoring, and simple yet powerful information navigation, bringing Enterprise Risk Intelligence to the decision maker's desktop.

"What do you want to do?," Carter asked. "With our approach, based on XML and other web services standards like BPEL, we can provide a single view of customer, purchase, whatever it is, using [business layer] agents that let you make sense of your data from a semantic perspective. The bottom line: This gives you centralized visibility into your data and applications, without the need to move everything into a central data warehouse."

"[Cisco CEO John] Chambers is talking about the network as the center of computing, so it just follows that AON helps make that happen by bringing to today's network hardware the capability of handling XML-based portable data over HTTP (which is a web service)," Carter added.

How Cisco AON's XML Impacts Devs
Carter expalined in depth just how Cisco AON's bundling of higher-level XML and business intelligence capabilities might change the lanscape for enterprise devs.

"Well, companies would need to have specially-trained technicians to work with their business intelligence tools [which would run a top the data warehouse]. That meant business users couldn't always run or adjust their reports," Carter said. "And, often companies needed to install customized EAI {enterprise application integration] tools into their data warehouse to get access to all the different types of data they would need for reports. So, the result is that there are so many barriers to efficient use of enterprise data, that even when you have the data warehouse upwards of 90-95% of the data you put in there doesn't even get used."

So, we asked Carter if that meant that CXO's approach is key to using web services to help create this "virtual" data warehouse?

"Yes, exactly. Our approach says if you could use web services to identify and access all the different data you need, you could have a virtual data warehousing layer throughout your entire network. This would reduce the cost and complexity of the need to have a data warehouse," Carter said.

So, XML would be key to this virtual data warehouse?
"Yes, our software can sniff the XML that is being moved from the different apps. And, with our work with Cisco, we're looking at Cisco network devices as a kind of firmware layer for us. As a result, AON can capture the XML and make sense of the data and make sense of the data. That lets us take a virtual approach to distribution of the information," he added.

AON is the first network-embedded, intelligent message routing system that enables applications and the network to work together as an integrated system. The dashboards ensure that senior-level executives needing business and IT information have access to the most up-to-date data in the enterprise; ensuring critical decisions are made based on pinpoint accurate information.

"Cisco AON and the CXO technology working together as a solution will give senior executives the ability to mitigate risk by making informed decisions based on real-time information, and thereby gain a real competitive advantage for their companies," said Cisco's AON business unit general manager Taf Anthias in a statement.