Splunk the IoT, digging through the machine data fabric

Splunk the IoT, digging through the machine data fabric

Splunk the IoT, digging through the machine data fabric
Splunk the IoT, digging through the machine data fabric

Real time operational intelligence company Splunk has staged its annual developer, partner, customer, tech-practitioner event in Orlando this month with a set of specific tracks dedicated to the Internet of Things (IoT).

Splunk describes itself as a leader in analyzing machine data designed to deliver so-called ‘operational intelligence’ for security, IT and business needs.

The firm refers to its software as the ‘enterprise machine data fabric’, so what does that really mean and how does it impact the IoT?

Spelunking down

NOTE: If you’re wondering why Splunk is called Splunk, according to ExtremeSportsX, “Those who head to the caves with a hand held flashlight and a six pack thinking they’re all hard, are called spelunkers. Cavers rescue spelunkers.” Hence the term Splunk i.e. Splunkers are in fact adept at digging through the morass of un-indexed big data that is generated by machine data…. Splunk shines a professional flashlight on what would otherwise be Spelunking, get it?

So what do Splunkers need to know about the IoT. Key sessions this year included Splunk on the Shopfloor: Improving Plant Operations with Splunk. This track was presented to talk specifically to operations managers to examine the sophisticated environment of a modern manufacturing plant that demands workers and management constantly ‘synthesize data sources’ from different systems to optimize operations.

Synthesize data sources

Data comes not only from industrial sensors but also from worker observations says Splunk – bringing this data together is the ‘synthesize’ or synthetization process needed. Once this is achieved, the data intelligence can be used to drive continuous improvement and business metrics.

Related: 5 reasons why IoT needs data analytics

An IoT analytics session was also staged this year looking at products including Splunk IT Service Intelligence, Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk User Behavior Analytics, Splunk Enterprise, Splunk Cloud.

According to the presenters, “As organizations chart their course to a digital transformation they are seeing unprecedented opportunities. The role of machine data is a fundamental piece of the fabric for this journey. Be it retail, government or transportation, a machine data fabric provides the data foundation needed to capitalize on these opportunities.”

Architecting Large Scale IoT Apps

An intermediate level session on architecting for large scale IoT apps was delivered by senior sales engineer Jason Varmazis. Looking at real world IoT environments, Varmazis said that data-rich million-plus IoT device deployments require the support of a robust back-end infrastructure.

Varmazis described how to architect a data-driven Splunk solution that provides a transactional, scalable, fault-tolerant, performant and integrated infrastructure for IoT applications.

Splunk for Donuts

Winning the award for ‘best session title ever, Splunk for Donuts: Optimizing the Customer Experience at Dunkin’ with Splunk followed the story of how Dunkin’ Donuts has improved their guests’ experience using Splunk to gain value from their machine data and explore some inspirational ideas on optimizing operations and real-time digital marketing in the retail sector.

Finally, in this IoT data smorgasbord we also found a session entitled MQTT, CEP and the other LMNOP’s of the IoT.

An alphabet soup of protocols

For those that need a guide here. LMNOP is an acronym meaning “Look man, not our problem”. MQTT (formerly MQ Telemetry Transport) is an ISO standard and CEP (obviously) stands for Complex Event Processing.

Brian Gilmore, director for solution architecture, IoT and big data ecosystem at Splunk Inc explained, “The IoT is literally becoming an alphabet soup of protocols, technology trends, and analytics approaches.”

He examined how 2M protocols like MQTT are being leveraged in the IoT, how popular technology trends like PaaS and SaaS are utilized in consumer and enterprise IoT solutions and also how analytics strategies like CEP are helping companies realize value from their IoT and IIoT projects.

Going forward, we would expect all major sized vendors to include this level of IoT examination in their annual technology conferences. This extrapolation of Splunk’s agenda should (we hope) prove insightful.

Related: How IoT and data analytics are changing what you buy


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I am a technology journalist with over two decades of press experience. Primarily I work as a news analysis writer dedicated to a software application development ‘beat’; but, in a fluid media world, I am also an analyst, technology evangelist and content consultant. As the previously narrow discipline of programming now extends across a wider transept of the enterprise IT landscape, my own editorial purview has also broadened. I have spent much of the last ten years also focusing on open source, data analytics and intelligence, cloud computing, mobile devices and data management. I have an extensive background in communications starting in print media, newspapers and also television. If anything, this gives me enough man-hours of cynical world-weary experience to separate the spin from the substance, even when the products are shiny and new.