Splunk CEO Merritt: Splunk opportunities riding the crest of a technology explosion

Doug Merritt, Splunk’s President and CEO, kicked off the Splunk .conf18 event in Orlando by emphasizing the congruence between the company’s greatest wave of innovation ever, and the time in the market when the pace of change and the ability to tap into the monstrous mess that is contemporary data are at their peak of importance.

Splunk President and CEO Doug Merritt

ORLANDO – Market forces are dramatically increasing demand for the kind of innovation that Spunk provides, and the machine-generated data-focused vendor has responded by its greatest wave of technology breakthroughs in its history. That was the messaging that Doug Merritt, Splunk’s President and CEO, delivered to the audience in his kickoff keynote at the Splunk .conf18 event here.

“Two years ago when we were here we had less than 4000 people, and we have now more than 8000 people here right now,” Merritt told his audience. While that doubling of the attendee audience is impressive, it pales beside what Merritt described as the exponential pace of change that drives Splunk’s business.

“With the acceleration of change, of ideas, and new business models – it’s literally an explosion of technology,” he declared. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, drones, robotics, smart everything, DNA sequencing, genetic manipulation – it is a landscape filled with change and the messiest of them all is the digital landscape. It was hard enough just to harness enough ERP data. Today, if we really want to be successful, we have to tap into that sea of data outside of our walls. We have to use data to make things happen.”

Merritt stressed that while the IT revolution really dates from the 1960s, the tools the industry has been using for the last fifty years have been mostly geared for a structured world.

“Splunk’s approach is different,” he said. “We are built to work the way that your data works – so you can go from this flow of seeming chaos to business actions. Our core design philosophy is to embrace the mess, and it seems like it has been an overnight success, but it has been hard-earned.”

Merritt said that Splunk’s new solution announcements extend the innovation to a much greater degree than at any point in the past.

“I’ve been waiting for this week for six months, because of the product momentum and innovation,” he said. “This is our first real significant landing spot, where we can really make things happen with data. What I’m most excited about here is our evolution as a company around our core technology. The Splunk Search capability has blown people away – the new Data Stream Processor, the amazing Federated Search Capability. We are now able to go 1400 per cent faster  with Splunk Data Fabric Search –  a two orders of magnitude increase. We are also continuing to see the democratization of data through multiple nodalities. We have a wide variety of users, from technical hard core people to non-technical business users, and all of them need continued help to make things easier to digest. It’s about how to make our SPL language more manageable, making their environment more flexible, so that you can have automated actions at the speed of compute.

“Our vision is to lay from the edge all the way back to data centres and on public clouds,” Merritt explained. “It is a very complex and confusing heterogeneous world. We need to be able to understand that and provide integration so we can take advantage of all these environments. That’s why we dove into openness, three plus years ago. Standards are good, but with the rate of innovation we are seeing today, we won’t get in front of that standards problem.”

Merritt emphasized that with Splunk’s massively unique ability to create data sets from the data at their disposal, they have a unique advantage in addressing these issues that are becoming ever more important.

“Machine learning is nothing more than different sets of algorithms,” he said. “The community is getting better at how to do that. But 80 per cent of data scientists’ time today is spent trying to create data sets to set their algorithms against. The strength of Splunk is in our core index. We do not strip out that core data, so you can rapidly form up data sets. That’s part of that cycle of speeding things up. Because with Splunk Data Fabric Search, it doesn’t matter where the data lives, MSSPs or service providers or enterprises querying search outside their core walls to test algorithms can take a much broader sample set into consideration.”

Ultimately, Merritt stressed to his audience, that’s the bottom line.

“Without adopting that growth mindset, without embracing the mess, you are at odds with moving forward,” he emphasized.