Godfrey Sullivan’s Keynote for this year’s Splunk User Conference had the audience buzzing with excitement as Splunk Version 6 and Splunk Cloud were announced. Both offerings are intended to allow business users to gain more actionable insight from Splunk’s ability to capture, store and search nearly any type of log-data. Fraud detection for financial services companies was one of the featured Splunk use cases, along with smart grid technology. In addition, one of the founders of Splunk’s most recent (and first) acquisition, BugSense spoke during the keynote. After spending the day talking with current Splunk customers, partners and executives, I had the following three takeaways:
1. Splunk offers a powerful platform for log collection and analysis. The Splunk platform allows IT operations and security teams the ability to search through tremendous amounts of logs. This gives teams the ability to quickly find the cause of service disruptions or the source of malicious activity. In addition to log collection and searching, Splunk has been consistently trying to make their software more accessible to a broader audience within their customers. For example, with Version 6 of the software, searches no longer need to be in Splunk’s proprietary language. In addition, Splunk’s native visualization capabilities have improved. Although Splunk’s native visualization offerings have improved, business users are likely to still prefer more BI focused visualizations tools that they are familiar with such Tableau
2. Splunk has a tremendous opportunity to leverage its application environment. Splunk offers customers the ability to access over 400 free applications that can run on top of the Splunk ecosystem. When the Splunk app store was created, the focus was on allowing vendors to create applications that would allow their products to feed logs into the Splunk data store. Today, many of the applications are still of this connector variety. Currently there are only 3 paid applications (all offered through Splunk). I see a huge opportunity for Splunk to follow the lead of Salesforce.com and Amazon Web Services (AWS) in building an application store that welcomes Independent Software Vendors (ISVs). For example, an ISV might build a sentiment analysis or a predictive analytics tool on top of Splunk. This would allow the ISV to leverage its IP while giving it access to Splunk’s growing customer base.
3. Splunk should offer more business-focused solutions. Splunk has been expanding rapidly and focused on building out their core enterprise platform. At the same time, Splunk should devote more efforts towards building enterprise solutions. While the Splunk platform offers customers the ability to highly customize dashboards and reports, customers need to finely tune their instance and create searches in order to gain value. Through the use of strategic partnerships and internal development I would encourage Splunk to offer more solutions that are focused on customer pain-points beyond IT operations. For example, the recent acquisition of BugSense gives Splunk a stronger foothold in the mobile space. Splunk has the opportunity to leverage the additional log-data gathered through BugSense with existing Splunk technology to offer a solution targeted towards mobile development teams and business teams looking for new opportunities.
From a partnership perspective I believe Splunk has the opportunity to target specific industries that are looking for ways to make data more actionable. McKenney’s, a partner I spoke with has an offering called DataFlare, is an building automation company leveraging Splunk along with sensor data to offer building operations teams the ability to reduce energy costs while closely monitoring systems. In one installation, McKenney’s is using Splunk to collect data from over 20,000 machine sensors in more than 800 building at a large US Air Force base. McKenney’s solution brings together both the machine data with the independent building automation systems. The application sits on top of Splunk, however customers do not need to have Splunk specific knowledge. Their installation at the Air Force base has reduced energy consumption by 10-15%.
Splunk continues to offer a powerful platform and has a quality that many companies desire — enthusiastic customers. Version 6 of the software as well as other announcements, such as Splunk Cloud and Hunk (analytics for Hadoop) are strong advances in the core Splunk platform, however the company still has a huge opportunities.