Splunk .conf2017 highlights

The flight back offered a great opportunity to consider the last three days and the massive amount of things to take away from Splunk .conf2017. 

Splunk .conf2017 was the largest ever with nearly 40 per cent more attendees than last year. The conference saw more than 7,000 registrees travel over 30 million miles to the Walter E Washington Convention Centre in Washington, D.C.

The audience was eclectic, representing the history and culture of Splunk and most importantly the strong sense of community that it has successfully fostered. Splunk has definitely found a special place in the world of machine data and analytics, similar to the way in which Apple has successfully captured the mass market.  

The attendees ranged from engineers and administrators up to C-level executives. Each group was well represented, with a wide variety of sessions covering subjects from ‘Analysing the US election’ to ‘Automating Threat Hunting using Machine Learning’.

Day one

The opening day consisted of a much anticipated keynote which was split between the styles of a nightclub and a TV show. Along with it was sound, lighting and stage-management that would not seem out of place in Hollywood. In fact, it was more like the IT world’s version of the X-Factor and nothing like a typical corporate presentation.  

First on stage was Doug Merritt, the charismatic Splunk President & CEO, who discussed how Splunk is changing the world around us. Joining him on stage was a customer from Dubai Airports who explained how Splunk has helped them to create the airport of the future with a data driven approach, using Machine Learning to predict everything from baggage movement to bathroom utilisation!

The highly anticipated segment in the keynote was the product, one which definitely did not disappoint. Splunk’s Chief Product Officer, Richard Campione, and Nate McKervey, Director of Advocacy, used this as an opportunity to showcase two of the biggest new releases: Splunk Enterprise 7.0 and Splunk Machine Learning Toolkit 3.0.  

Instead of a conventional demo they went for something a little different, presenting a live show which demonstrated how, using Machine Learning, they could predict, based on driving style who the driver of a racing simulator was. It was a really effective example which showed the value that the combination of data, Splunk and Machine Learning can bring.

The keynote closed with the full list of product announcements:

  • Splunk Enterprise 7
  • Enterprise Security 4.7
  • IT Service Intelligence 3.0
  • User Behaviour Analytics 4.0
  • Machine Learning Toolkit 3.0
  • Splunk Security Essentials for Ransomware

Day two

The second day opening consisted of a more technical keynote which covered the new products in more depth, with a focus on the two key themes: Enterprise Security & IT Service Intelligence. 

Splunk also announced Project Waitomo, which combines Splunk with Machine Learning to provide unified infrastructure monitoring that covers on-premise, hybrid and cloud environments.

The other key announcement was Enterprise Security Content Updates, which is a powerful new product. This underwhelmingly-named product is potentially a big step forward as it provides a research-led, curated feed of content for enterprise security. It will give users access to the latest intelligence and protection direct from Splunk R&D!

Day three

For the third and final day, guest speaker Billy Beane, Oakland A’s Executive Vice President of Baseball Operations (or, as he called himself, “the one that’s played by Brad Pitt in the film Moneyball”), presented a keynote which focused on real-world applications of data analytics.

During his keynote he explained the power of data and how we can use data and analytics to change the way we do things, challenge perceived wisdom and drive more effective outcomes. This was a great example of how far things have come and now with Splunk and the premium apps, you can find the hidden value and unlock the secrets of your data!

Ironically enough, one of the in-flight movies on the plane back was Moneyball, the story of Billy Beane and his data driven approach to baseball. It was a great way to appreciate the power and positive impact that technology can have on almost anything.

Splunk .conf2017 was a great advocate for the value of data and the potential that tools like Splunk have to unlock this value and drive new insights and better understanding. It was definitely well worth attending.

Published date:  03 October 2017

Written by:  Graham McElroy

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