Big Data often requires "Big Hardware." In other words, to process and analyze large stores of information, organizations usually need a lot of computing power, which brings with it its own set of demands and maintenance costs. Eying opportunity in this challenge, open source Big Data analytics company Pentaho has partnered with Cisco Systems (NASDAQ: CSCO) to deliver a complete hardware and software solution for business analytics. Here's the scoop.

The deal will combine Pentaho's Big Data analytics and reporting tools with Cisco's Unifed Computing Systems (UCS) line of servers. Pentaho is promoting the move as a way for customers to simplify deployment of its software in enterprise environments.

Hardware-wise, the solution is built around the following components:
  • Cisco UCS 6200 Series Fabric Interconnects
  • Cisco UCS 2200 Series Fabric Extenders
  • Cisco UCS C240 M3 Rack-Mount Servers based on Intel® Xeon® E-2600 series processors
  • Cisco UCS P81E Virtual Interface Card
  • Cisco UCS Manager
This enterprise-class platform delivers the computing power needed to run Pentaho's software on the UCS servers directly, or in virtualized or cloud environments.

Suggesting what kind of specific real-world applications this partnership might facilitate, Cisco representatives said:
"Whether it’s insurance companies using mobile technology to file claims remotely or online retailers doing sentiment and customer risk analysis, Cisco’s enterprise customers are in need of a comprehensive analytics platform that works with big and diverse data types."

Simplifying Data

This partnership highlights the increasing demand for simplicity in the world of Big Data. For the most part, the tools that organizations need to process and manage massive amounts of data already exist. But they're not always easy to wield in their current forms.

On the software front, developers have been working to address that issue by writing interfaces for platforms such as Hadoop that reduce the need for end users to work with the underlying code. Things are getting better in this respect.

But as the partnership between Pentaho and Cisco underlines, software is only part of the equation. To make Big Data solutions truly user-friendly and highly accessible, effective integration between software and hardware will be necessary.