IT Management Next Gen: Splunk Makes Bigger Splash

The wave of next-generation IT management tools mostly involves cloud management, Big Data analytics and application optimization. And Splunk is one of the leading boats riding that wave.

Spiunk's software provides "operational intelligence" -- allowing users to search, monitor and visualize machine-generated Big Data from websites, applications, servers, networks, sensors and mobile devices. Basically, Splunk is pushing the IT monitoring conversation toward an Internet of Things/Big Data conversation.

Plenty of customers are embracing the conversation. For its Q3 ended Oct. 31, 2014, revenues jumped 48 percent to $116 million. More than 500 new enterprise customers embraced Splunk, bringing the company's installed base to 8,400 customers worldwide. The company has pushed beyond traditional application monitoring to focus on Hadoop and NoSQL data stores -- two of the most popular platforms in the Big Data universe.

Also of note, Splunk now offers a 100 percent uptime guarantee for Splunk Cloud and a free Splunk Online Sandbox -- which allows customers to try Splunk Cloud within minutes of visiting the site.

Splunk is part of a larger wave of IT management tools.

  • The first generation managed mainframes and client server systems, extending from IBM to Unix servers.
  • The second generation embraced the x86 wave -- Intel-based servers, desktops and notebooks.
  • The current third wave blankets cloud and mobile computing, with a healthy dose of Big Data analytics mixed in.

Heads up: Many of the second-generation tools -- which depend far too heavily on x86 server and desktop customers -- have slowing or no-growth installed bases. And their revenue models, often designed during the late client-server age, are struggling to evolve for "try it now, buy it now, quit anytime" generation of cloud apps.

Current third-generation competitors include Splunk, AppDynamics (CEO podcast here); Boundary (CEO podcast hereNew Relic (pre-IPO information here) and plenty more.

I doubt we'll ever get to "one" dashboard for IT management. But the next wave of growth leaders has arrived. The big question: Which of the leaders will survive a third-generation shakeout? Let's accept facts; there's always a market shakeout. And many of the early leaders have yet to generate any profits.

For now, the story is all about growth while monitoring and optimizing cloud apps. But someday soon, this conversation will need to shift to profits.

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