Splunk Gets More Intuitive With Its Big Data Platform

Splunk ostensibly will become a kingpin in indexing, monitoring and making usable scads of data that the IoT will foist upon us in the coming years.

LAS VEGAS—Splunk, a new-gen data platform that stands to become a hugely important factor in gauging the Internet of things, launched a new version of its software Oct. 7 that's aimed at attracting a wider, non-IT user base.

The San Francisco-based company introduced Splunk Enterprise 6.2 at its user conference here at the MGM Grand, where about 3,500 Splunk customers and partners are gathered. Splunk ostensibly will become a kingpin player in indexing, monitoring and making usable the scads of data that the IoT will foist upon us in the coming years.

The company name is a takeoff from the term "spelunking," which is defined as "the exploration of caves, especially as a hobby." Speleology is the scientific study of caves and their environments.

Well, Splunk isn't about exploring caves, but it is all about exploring—and conquering—mountains of data that are way too much for most old-line analytics solutions to handle in a reasonable window of time.

"We're all about making big data usable," Nate McKervey, technical product marketing manager at Splunk, told eWEEK, breaking the company mission down to its simplest terms.

Simple Often Isn't Easy to Do Well

That sounds simple, and to most users it is, because the interface is intuitive to use. But it is really hard to make breakdowns of siloes of data easily accessible, yet Splunk—which has a freemium model with a free of charge community edition—has accomplished this.

Perhaps the most important new feature in v.6.2 is a Patterns tab, in which a user can search all or part of a company's data to see, for example, why a particular problem keeps popping up.

"It's one of my favorite new features," McKervey told eWEEK, while showing a demo of the platform. "Let's say we're having a large number of Windows security events in the company. In the last hour, I'm seeing that we had 74 Windows security events on 200 devices. We also can see that many of them are Secure Shell (SSH) log-in failures. If I add that to my search, I can see only SSH failures on Windows security devices.

"If I search all of my data in the last hour, it looks like I have more than 21,000 events. If I click on Patterns, I don't have to look at 21,000 events—it would take me a long time. I only have to look at nine patterns, see what stands out and then drill into those events. SSH failures are one of them, and we can focus on just that one to see why the problem is happening."

Other key features in Splunk Enterprise 6.2 include the following:

--Easier data on-boarding and preparation: A new intuitive wizard makes it easier to on-board any machine data. New interfaces guide users through previewing, on-boarding and preparation of machine data for downstream analysis.

--Advanced Field Extractor delivers simplified identification, naming and tagging of fields in machine data for rapid analysis.

--More powerful analytics: Instant Pivot allows anyone to pivot directly from any search, enabling powerful analysis and rapid creation of dashboards without knowledge of Splunk Search Processing Language.

--Enhanced Event Pattern Detection speeds analysis by automatically discovering meaningful patterns in underlying machine data.

--Prebuilt panels enable faster dashboard creation by providing the ability to create, package and share reusable dashboard building blocks.

--Simplified management at scale: Search head clustering advancement reduces total cost of ownership by increasing concurrent user capacity and eliminating shared storage requirements. The feature also improves redundancy and replication of search results.

--Distributed management console delivers a new interface to centrally monitor the health and performance of distributed Splunk Enterprise deployments.

Splunk Enterprise 6.2 can be downloaded starting at 5 a.m. PT, Tuesday, Oct. 28 at this link.

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger

Chris Preimesberger is Editor of Features & Analysis at eWEEK, responsible in part for the publication's coverage areas. In his 10 years and more than 3,500 stories at eWEEK, he has distinguished...