Rockin’ Splunk .CONF 2016
by Robert Berger, on Oct 10, 2016 3:16:48 PM
What do big data, analytics, Aerosmith and Mickey Mouse have in common? All of them were rocking Splunk’s seventh annual worldwide user’s conference, .CONF2016, at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. This being my fourth .CONF, I was especially excited to see how Splunk would “upstage” .CONF’s of years past with the move from Las Vegas to Orlando. Needless to say, they did it again as the response from Splunk’ers, partners and customers alike was overwhelmingly positive.
Nearly 5000 Splunk’ers from all over the world descended on Orlando to participate in training, networking, attending as many of the 185 breakout sessions as possible, and the always compelling keynotes from Splunk’s senior leadership team. One of the greatest things about Splunk’s ecosystem is the willingness to share insights, lessons learned and best practices from Fez’s, to Splunk’ers and even perceived competitors…everyone genuinely desires to provide feedback to help the platform (and overall ecosystem) get better and ensure that everyone in the ecosystem benefits.
What was most interesting to me was seeing yet another pivotal shift in Splunk’s approach and ambition within the big data and analytics space. As I have blogged about before, when I started with Splunk, it was positively regarded as “Google for your data center.” Plain and simple, it enabled you to ask any question of your data using a simple search box, but it was powerful. Fast forward to a couple years ago, and they finally began referring to themselves, and became, the platform for IT operations and security intelligence. This move was deliberate as former CEO and current Chairman Godfrey Sullivan was adamant that Splunk could not call themselves a platform until their customers did.
The company’s nearly 12,000 customers do refer to Splunk as a platform now, so how does Splunk continue to raise the bar? They yet again set their ambitions high, to become “THE machine data fabric” that can be weaved into virtually every business purpose, to help users find the proverbial “needle in the haystack.” Add to that the theme of .CONF 2016, the power of machine learning, which is currently being weaved into most all of Splunk’s products. Snehal Antani, Splunk’s CTO, put it best when he said, “Splunk has hit an inflection point. It is about more than just IT and security. It’s about purpose and impact.” An insightful perspective from one of Splunk’s chief visionaries and one that furthers Splunk’s claim that it can assist both the public and private sector organization on their digital transformation journey with machine learning.
In my opinion and experience, the big data and analytics market is still young and highly fragmented. The smaller, niche players will continue to exist, but the majority seem to have a three to five year acquisition exit strategy versus being in it for the long haul and innovating. They will continue to get consumed by the big fish and going vertical will find it much harder to compete as companies and agencies are looking to standardize on a single big data and analytics platform. This is where I believe that Splunk has not only grown tremendously in the past few years, but also, with their constant innovation around core product sets like Enterprise Security, User Behavior Analytics (UBA) and IT Service Intelligence, they can become THE machine data fabric and the platform of choice for those looking to standardize versus buying more and more tools.
I’m already looking forward to .CONF2017 in our nation’s capital. Thanks to all of our friends at Splunk for another great .CONF!
Robert Berger is the Managing Director of Big Data for GTRI’s Professional Services practice.