Tuesday, January 22, 2013

More Insights

In my previous post, I was talking about the past and especially what I did the last year.

While I am not the guy who celebrates new years eve too much, I do like the beginning of a new year, as January has a much slower pace as December, giving me time to think about what I want to achieve in the new year.

My personal goals are to become a better data scientist.  I like this picture about Data Science found on the Wikipedia Article. I could improve myself in any of the fields.
Attribution: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Calvin.Andrus
Wikipedia: Data Science

In some of the fields I will naturally improve myself doing projects with customers (e.g. domain expertise), others may require self-study (should not have slept in math and statistics classes...).

While I'm practicing data science every day, I think it is good to sometimes take a step backwards and learn more about the theory behind it, especially when there is a lot going on in areas like machine learning and predictive analytics. Applying these algorithms requires to understand the theory behind them.

Machine learning and predictive analytics will be a hot topic for me this year. More and more customers are looking to get more value out of their unstructured data. So far customers have been more in reactive mode,  like doing manual queries on historic data. Some of the more advanced customer have started to write their own algorithms. Giving them the tools to automatically detect anomalies and predict the future is the logical next step. This is one area where we are currently investigating and talking to domain experts, to get more insights and come up with a good solution.

Another area where we are expanding into is Application Performance Monitoring. Systems are getting more and more complex, and it is really hard to find root causes. Last week, we signed a partnership agreement that I am very happy with.

Readers of my blog know that beside Splunk there is another Application I'm a huge fan of. Yes, I'm talking about AppDynamics. I'm very happy that we now have a tool in our portfolio, that perfectly complements Splunk. There are almost no overlaps in functionality. AppDynamics provides the insights into an application, while Splunk has the view from the outside.

Together with the new AppDynamics Splunk App, we now have the perfect tag-team... Stay tuned!

Attribution: http://www.flickr.com/photos/usagj/6301467928/sizes/m/in/photostream/
Splunk-AppDynamics Tag-Team

Sunday, January 13, 2013

An Unexpected Journey...

2012 was a busy year that passed by too fast and without any blog entries. It was also a year, where I've switched sides from being a customer into being a consultant.

I was running the largest e-mail platform in Switzerland for over three years, together with an outstanding team dedicated to the task, but somewhere deep in the guts, I had this feeling to set sails...

It was the Splunk .conf in 2011, that was the impulse that sent me to an unexpected journey. I did a presentation there, and got into a lot of discussions with other Splunk users. Something was going on, Splunk has moved from niche into something people were enthusiastic about. I felt like in 2007 when Splunk 3.0 came out, that something was brewing...

Meno, the second Splunk customer in Switzerland, had already taken the path of working as a consultant at a Splunk Partner. I knew that they had an open position, but I declined the job a couple of months before, as I was satisfied with my current position.

I mean, where else in Switzerland can you run the full HW/Storage/Software-Stack in a large environment? I learned so much in this environment, and I was afraid, that I would not find something similarly interesting and challenging.

Then the year 2012 came. I started in January, and after only 3 weeks I was already booked out by customers who wanted to start Splunk projects.

What fascinates me, is the diversity of the projects. They go through all industries, can be highly technical and the next day very business oriented. I have to talk to all kinds of people, security, auditors, server and storage admins, network engineers, developers... You name it. One thing Splunk projects have in common: you never know what to expect at the customer, but in the end you have a happy customer.

Splunk .conf2012 was even more exciting than the previous year. Again, I was doing a presentation, and this time the room was overbooked! I was chatting with many Splunk employees, customers, other partners. Everyone was enthusiastic about the products and things to come.

If we look at the earlier years, many customers did not know anything about unstructured / machine data. In 2012, this clearly changed. People learned about Splunk from various Splunk Live! events, roadshows, and mouth-to-mouth propaganda. Customers really wanted to have Splunk. The only problem they had was how to start with such a powerful tool. Often projects started as proof-of-concepts, to give customers more ideas about what to do with the data. After implementing a few use-cases customers grasped the idea behind Splunk and more and more ideas popped up.

2013 is already here and I guess, it will continue the same way for new customers, learning what value Splunk can bring. Customers who have used Splunk for a longer time, will try to get even more value out of their machine data/unstructured data. I see some growing interest in data visualizations,  machine learning and predictive analytics. Also, Splunk is moving up the stack more and more, from giving technology answers, into giving business answers.

I expect this year to be even more exiting than last year, not only for me, but also the company I work for. There will be quite some announcements this year... stay tuned!