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Splunk's ambition to weave machine data fabric through your entire business

By George Nott | Oct. 5, 2016
Machine data search and analysis solution seeks enterprise-wide platform status.

Splunk CEO Doug Merritt

If Splunk is being used in your company, chances are the machine data analysis tool fulfils a specific function in IT operations or security.

That's the case for small pockets of users within Australia's biggest banks, telcos and government agencies, who are using Splunk, a Google-style search and investigation interface for unstructured data, to optimise DevOps, prioritise incidents and detect breaches.

Following the appointment of new CEO Doug Merritt last year, Splunk now has far bigger ambitions. Whole-enterprise, end-to-end, big data and machine learning, platform-plus-ecosystem scale ambitions.

When Splunk CTO Snehal Antani walked on stage to deliver closing keynote at the seventh annual Splunk user conference in Orlando last week he carried with him a new addition to the company's line of funny slogan t-shirts. It bore a pun to sum up the company's new position: "Don't be a tool".

From ITOps to the boardroom

For many years, Splunk's employees were not allowed to refer to the company's product as a platform. Orders of then CEO Godfrey Sullivan who steered the company through its IPO in 2012.

"He was very strict about it," remembers Antani, speaking to CIO Australia last week. "He had a discipline of not declaring we were a platform until we were truly ready, and our market was ready."

Both are ready now, the company says. Businesses are realising that the machine data – the log files from packaged and custom applications, app servers, web servers, databases, wire data from networks, virtual machines, mobile devices, telecoms equipment, operating systems, sensors, mainframes and more – so valuable to IT operations and security teams is the very same data that can be used by marketing, HR, operations, finance and in the boardroom.

Once considered a useful tool by IT, for IT, Splunk is now positioning itself as the 'enterprise machine data fabric', that can be weaved into every business function to help them 'find the gold' in machine data.

"The majority of the time we landed on the IT side because we were a viral software that people just downloaded and usually it's the IT folks that do that," says Splunk's SVP of security markets Haiyan Song, "but that is changing."

According to Antani: "We've hit that inflection point. It's more than just IT and security. It's about purpose and impact."

Machine learning platform

Central to Splunk's perception changing effort is machine learning. Driving the digital transformation of any company is the promise of data as a means to predict the future and inform reactions. For that you need complex algorithms, and Splunk is seeking to provide the framework for them to run on.


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