Build, Buy And Invest: Splunk Pursues Multiple Routes To Expand Its Big Data Software Portfolio

At Splunk’s .conf19 customer conference executives outline their vision for providing the technology their customers need in an increasingly data-intensive world.


Seeing an expanding range of potential applications for its big data platform, Splunk is pursuing an aggressive strategy of “build, buy and invest” to boost the company’s technology lineup into new functional areas and use cases.

The company’s roadmap for its portfolio of machine data software includes expanding the mobile, virtual reality, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities of the core Splunk platform and other software, as outlined in keynote speeches by CEO Doug Merritt and other executives Tuesday at the company’s .conf19 user and partner conference in Las Vegas.

Splunk also used the .conf19 event to announce the general availability of Splunk Enterprise 8.0, the latest release of the vendor’s flagship software with several new capabilities including Splunk Data Fabric Search and Splunk Data Stream Processor.

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The company also disclosed a financial investment in Zonehaven, a San Francisco startup that is developing cloud-based software that communities use to develop emergency response and evacuation plans in response to wildfire threats. The investment, the first from Splunk’s new $50 million Splunk Ventures Social Impact Fund, marks a significant step for Splunk beyond its core focus on data collection and data management into applications that leverage the Splunk platform.

All this comes as businesses and organizations are trying to find ways to derive value – and gain competitive advantage – from the growing volumes of data they generate.

“The data age is just beginning,” Merritt said in his keynote. “In this coming data age there will be only two types of companies. There will be those that seize the opportunities to make things happen with data and there will be those that no longer exist.”

The biggest uses for Splunk’s software have traditionally been collecting and managing data for IT operations and security purposes, as well as for DevOps tasks.

“But we know that exact same data can be used for every operation and process within an organization,” Merritt said, using the company’s recently introduced “Data-to-Everything” tagline. “We are bringing data to every question, to every decision, and to every action.”

The challenge for businesses is dealing with huge data volumes, increasing data complexity and velocity, and the lack of common data structures, the CEO said – issues the company is addressing with its technology strategy.

The new Splunk Data Fabric Search within Splunk Enterprise 8.0 speeds up complicated queries on massive data sets – even when the data is spread across multiple data sources, said Jeff Schultz, product marketing vice president.

Splunk Data Stream Processor continuously collects data that’s in motion from diverse sources in real time, turns it into actionable information or insights, and distributes it throughout an organization.

It was Chief Technology Officer Tim Tully who, in his portion of the keynote session, described Splunk’s innovation strategy as “build, buy and invest.” On the build side he noted that Splunk has filed for 435 patents and doubled the size of its research and development team over the last two years.

Tully walked the 11,000 attendees through some of Splunk’s recent development projects including Splunk Data Stream Processor and Splunk Data Fabric Search, the new Splunk Mission Control Dashboard, the Splunk Mobile application, the Splunk Business Flow process mining software, and new virtual reality and augmented reality capabilities for Splunk’s products.

On the buy side, Tully noted that Splunk has acquired six companies since September 2017 including SignalFx, a developer of software used to monitor cloud infrastructure, applications and microservices; and Omnition, a startup building Software-as-a-Service technology for monitoring microservices applications.

And on the invest side, Splunk announced the creation of a $100 million Splunk Ventures Innovation Fund to invest in startups with technology that can benefit Splunk and its customers. The company also launched a $50 million Splunk Social Impact Fund to invest in companies, such as Zonehaven, that develop software that “are using data to do good,” said Susan St. Ledger, Splunk president of worldwide field operations, in an interview.

St. Ledger also pointed to Splunk’s recent creation of multiple pricing options for Splunk software, which are designed to make it easier for new customers to calculate the total cost of ownership before buying Splunk’s software.