Splunk, Tableau Partner in Machine Data Alliance

Splunk and Tableau announced a partnership that will help business users gain easy access to machine data to gain new insights.

Splunk, provider of a software platform for real-time operational intelligence, and Tableau Software, a business analytics software provider, have announced a strategic alliance to leverage the power of visual analytics and real-time machine data.

As part of a joint technology investment, the latest version of Tableau software includes Splunk Enterprise as a native data source using Splunk's recently launched Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) driver to provide business users with easy access to machine data. Machine-generated data is information that was automatically created from a computer process, application or other machine without the intervention of a human.

"Tableau is the most widely recognized provider of visual analytics software," said Guido Schroeder, senior vice president of products at Splunk, in a statement. "Our alliance with Tableau extends the value that Splunk software unlocks in machine data. Using Tableau to visualize structured data with machine data in Splunk will enable people to gain new business insights."

The integration provides direct access to saved searches within Splunk Enterprise 6 from Tableau Desktop and Tableau Server, using Splunk's ODBC driver, for further data exploration and visualization.

"Splunk leads the market in enabling organizations to collect, index and make searchable machine data from apps, servers, networks, websites and devices in real time," said Chris Stolte, chief development officer and co-founder of Tableau Software, in a statement. "Our integration lets organizations use our visual analytics software on their machine data in Splunk software. Whether it's to find quick insights or explore machine data, it accelerates new insights for anyone using Tableau and Splunk."

More specifically, the direct connection between Splunk and Tableau enables users to correlate, analyze and visualize machine data with other structured data for advanced business analytics. It also makes a new source of data available to more people, including machine data with Splunk Enterprise. These capabilities are complementary to the real-time and historical visualizations and analytics across large data sets in Splunk Enterprise.

Overall, the connection makes it easier for Tableau users to visualize machine data and find new insights. Users can now leverage Tableau to visualize machine data from Splunk Enterprise, enabling new business insights from a rapidly growing class of data.

Splunk built its ODBC driver with simplicity in mind. "Allowing users to be self-reliant is a goal for many organizations," wrote Manish Kalra, director of product marketing at Splunk, in a Jan. 29 post for the Splunk Enterprise Team introducing the driver. "This reduces costs and increases productivity. This is why we're excited to announce the availability of Splunk ODBC Driver. Splunk ODBC Driver provides industry-standard connectivity between Splunk Enterprise and Microsoft Excel or Tableau Desktop. It enables business users to connect directly and securely to Splunk Enterprise using analytics tools they're already familiar with."

Meanwhile, in a blog post about the integration, Ted Wasserman, a product manager at Tableau, offered three reasons why the alliance with Splunk is good for his company. One is that Splunk has truly disrupted the operational intelligence space and has provided IT professionals with key productivity gains and insights into their IT environments, he said. Another is that there is a wealth of potential value lying in the machine data that Splunk collects.

"This machine data could include server and application logs, as well data from APIs and message queues, change events, and sensor data from remote equipment," Wasserman said. "The integration now makes this new class of data available to business users in true Tableau drag-and-drop fashion."

Wasserman's third point about the alliance is that machine data can now be easily blended with other structured data in the organization, such as spreadsheets and databases, to answer new types of questions that were previously hard or impossible to answer in the past, he said.

Tableau engineers collaborated closely with the Splunk product team on the integration to ensure a smooth user experience, Wasserman said. "The connector provides access to Splunk Saved Searches, which can be brought into Tableau for further exploration using Tableau's visual and interactive drag-and-drop paradigm," he noted.