iTWire has been following Splunk for a long time; the business began life as a rapid log file ingestion and search engine, allowing IT teams to rapidly pinpoint problems and potential problems. However, its users saw so much more. Much like the game Minecraft inspired a whole generation of Lego-like builders to explore and experiment and take the game in ways its creator never foresaw, so too Splunk users realised they could ingest and search on anything and everything. Business users saw the tremendous dashboards their IT counterparts were creating and wanted in on that too. Specialist workloads for IT operations and security came out. Splunk continued to grow, and acquire, bringing with it an entire realm of observability, DevOps, and war-room-like incident response functionality. Then Splunk expanded to allow actions while the stream was being ingested. Today Splunk announced you don't even need to ingest data with its new federated search. Looking back, Splunk still remains faithful to its roots - a super-fast data aggregator and search product - but it has evolved and matured to provide strong, compelling support for specific use cases customers were pointing it at.
Yet, in the last year, Splunk has seen the departure of Group VP ANZ Simon Eid, chief technology advocate and digital storyteller Andi Mann, president of worldwide field operations Susan St Ledger and most recently, and perhaps most surprisingly, the sudden departure of long-term president and CEO Doug Merritt.
Splunk .conf 2022, the company's annual conference, is back as a face-to-face (and virtual) event, running this week in Las Vegas. And the event shows the business has transitioned to new leadership and has a strong future.
Proofpoint founder and CEO of 20 years Gary Steele is now in the top job as CEO and, by his own hand, chief customer advocate too, while on the local front, former EMC and NetSuite executive Mark Troselj is running the ANZ region.
Steele has taken the baton from Doug Merritt - figuratively but almost literately with the two being long-term running partners.
Steele says he made the change from his home of two decades to Splunk because he wanted another chapter in his career. “I’ve had a phenomenal experience at Proofpoint and worked with some really amazing people,” he said. However, the time came when “I wanted to do something on a bigger scale and that would run for at least 10 years for me.”
"I joined with a long-term view to growing the business," he said. "There is an opportunity for phenomenal long-term growth, to grow and increase operating margins, and an incredible opportunity to drive shareholder value, and do the right thing by shareholders.”
Steele says with "the world we're living in and the threat environment" there isn't a company better positioned than Splunk to solve these challenges. “Security is rapidly becoming a data problem,” he said.
Steele started the job on 11 April and set himself three goals as he settled in: "really understanding how we continue to deliver great outcomes, how we drive more efficient customer execution, and evaluating if we have the right strategies,” he said.
As part of this, Steele committed himself to meet 100 customers within 100 days "to really help me understand the landscape,” he said - and with the opportunities for customers to gather at Splunk .conf 2022 Steele says he is on track.
While Steele says there is much in Splunk version 9.0, announced today, "the thing I'm super excited about is federated search within a single Splunk console. This lets your search queries include data sitting in AWS S3. One of the important strategic directions of the company is to get access to the data wherever it lives, starting with AWS S3. This allows customers to leave data where it may be. There are a lot of issues where data can be, so the federated search is our first step in that direction.”
Steele also said from the perspective of a global CEO he sees the convergence in the market of security and observability - the SOC and the NOC. “Traditionally these have been silos, with people monitoring applications different to the people worrying about security. If you have an application issue in the middle of the night you don’t know if it is a security or an application issue until you determine that with common data. The convergence is driving efficiency and Splunk is uniquely positioned to be one of the vendors able to deliver on that.”
When not dealing with tech, Steele is also a collector of contemporary art, he told iTWire, and is a trustee with SFMOMA to contribute back to the community.
Australia and New Zealand
Locally, Mark Troselj has been running the ANZ ship for six months and says he is particularly focused on growing the business across the Federal Government, and Government in general. “We’re increasing our footprint in Canberra, and building the specialist skills required for the Canberra market,” he said.
Additionally, "We've appointed a new New Zealand country manager to increase our NZ business, and we’re growing our business in South Australia and Brisbane,” Troselj said.
Splunk locally has always hubbed out of Sydney and Melbourne, but "what we're doing in the short-to-medium term is to look at businesses outside of Sydney/Melbourne. We’re continuing to increase growth, and continuing to see opportunities outside those cities,” he said.
"We're also very keenly focused on resourcing the business," Troselj said, particularly explaining his strong views on having a diverse and inclusive workforce. “It’s been an absolute priority for me my entire career,” he said. “I absolutely see the benefits of having a great diversity.”
With that goal in mind Troselj explains Splunk APJ is working at how it can attract a high ratio of women into Splunk and to expand the intern program to include mature-age students, as well as evaluating other areas to ensure a strong, diverse workforce with equal opportunities.
Amongst all this, there is still the business-as-usual aspect - "we are continuing to build out and support our existing customers as much as we can,” Troselj said, explaining The Australian and New Zealand professional community embraces new technology and change very well. “Globally, we punch above our weight as to how we drive technology and efficiency,” he said. “Moving to the cloud is accelerating and well adopted by Australian business.”
Troselj states he was really drawn to Splunk as a technology. "Splunk is unique, it's a really great place to work with amazing people. It has a very broad community within Australia of people who truly understand the platform and what it does,” he said. “It’s such a critical part of how our customers run their business. When I sit and talk to customers they speak about how critical it is and ask how they can continue to use Splunk in the most efficient way.”
Of course, tech is one thing; "when I was looking at joining Splunk I came across the Splunk and McLaren relationship. I’m a bit of a Formula 1 racing fan,” he said. “I saw the relationship and got a sense as an organisation how diverse the companies are that can benefit from Splunk. We have customers like Papa John's and McLaren and provide real-time business outcomes to both those companies. It really drew me to Splunk,” he said.