Splunk AIOps development is led by new ‘hands-on’ CEO

Splunk’s new chief executive plans to lead the security and observation provider’s product development teams following the departure of another high-ranking company executive, which has raised eyebrows among some industry experts.

Shawn Bice, president of products and technology at Splunk since June 2021, left the company on June 16, according to comments made by new CEO of Splunk, Gary Steele, in the company’s May 25 earnings call. Bice was hired as part of a wave of new appointments last year that caused some consternation among employees, especially as new hires such as Teresa Carlson, the now former president and chief growth officer, were placed by the company above existing managers rather than promote from within.

Carlson stepped down in March, just as… Steele took over as CEO after a three-month search for a replacement for his predecessor, Doug Merritt, who stepped down in November 2021. The roles of Carlson and Bice will not be filled, Steele said on last month’s earnings call.

“My first priority was to increase the internal speed and agility of our people and organizations,” he said. “Flattening our organizational structure will help us do that.”

As part of this plan, Steele will direct the product marketing and development organizations.

“One of the things I’m personally super excited about is rolling up my sleeves and working closely with the tech leaders to drive greater speed, agility and a faster pace of innovation,” Steele said in response to questions from Wall Street analysts. about the call for profit† “I love getting my hands dirty and working directly with the engineering teams. … We’re really well positioned to do that within a flatter organization.”

I love getting my hands dirty and working directly with the technical teams. … We’re really well positioned to do that within a flatter organization.

Gary SteeleCEO, Splunk

In his first Splunk .conf22 keynote as CEO this week, Steele outlined his strategy for Splunk’s products: more advanced machine learning and AIOps Automation functions as well as further federated search capabilities between distributed data repositories.

“We plan to accelerate our investments in machine learning and automation so that: [customers] can predict more problems before they become expensive problems,” Steele said during the keynote presentation. Advances in machine learning products will focus on improving Splunk’s anomaly detection algorithms, risk-based alert prioritization and making it easier to write questions within AIOps tools, he said.

“We want to tackle complexity and lead the market in federated search,” Steele continued. “We believe that you should be able to decide to move data when you want to move it and make it as efficient as possible. … You will also have the opportunity to think about where you want to store your data and how you take advantage of the cheapest options available.”

Finally, Splunk will continue to integrate its security and observation tools and add further collaboration tools for: DevSecOps teams to assess incidents togetheraccording to Steele.

Industry watchers predict Steele will focus on cybersecurity

During his .conf22 keynote presentation, Steele mentioned lowering storage costs using cloud services like Amazon S3, and Splunk Cloud this week added support for cheaper “cold storage” in SmartStore on Azure. Splunk also rolled out workload pricing last year in an effort to appeal to customers long-term concerns about licensing costs† But an industry analyst wondered if Steele’s strategy could move further in that direction.

“Looking at the various components mentioned in the earnings call and announcements, it seems simplicity and efficiency underlie Steele’s decisions at Splunk,” said Carlos Casanova, an analyst at Forrester Research. “What I don’t see enough about is the cost to their customers, which is a pretty well-known issue in the market.”

A former Splunk executive who watched the news this week said Splunk’s organization could use some smoothing, and the roadmap Steele has laid out is reasonable.

“Historically there has been a problem with spreading too many bets too thinly,” said the former director. “Focus and direction would only help deliver.”

However, another former employee, who said he left the company earlier this year due to Merritt’s departure, believed Steele’s hands-on management may not be good news for the company’s cloud native. perceptibility tools. Before taking over as CEO of Splunk, Steele ran a cybersecurity company, Proofpoint, but did not lead product development for DevOps software. Steele spent 20 years at Proofpoint, before leading a SaaS startup focused on professional services from 1998 to 2002.

“This tells me that Splunk will be 100% a security company and leave observability and DevOps behind,” said the former employee.

Turning into a security company was not Splunk’s intention during presentations this week, nor was it during Steele’s comments last month, where he stated that Splunk still sees “two primary buyers” in security and observability.

But there is increasing momentum around observability in the IT security industry, according to a research conducted by Dynatrace this month† And Forrester’s Casanova also predicts a long-term shift toward greater focus on security tools for Splunk.

“The departures of two key players with no additions, comments about ‘flattening the organization’ and an increased ‘focus on engineering’ lead me to believe that we should expect more organizational changes and possibly new capabilities that focus on the security operations and improving the delivery efficiency of their offerings,” said Casanova.

In comments on earnings calls and during .conf22 presentations, Splunk continued to focus on its existing corporate audience rather than the developer-led market of emerging mid-sized companies targeted by high-growth observational competitors such as DataDog† Splunk CFO Jason Child told financial analysts that security accounts for 50% of Splunk’s business and is the fastest growing part of that company in terms of revenue.

Steele also noted links between trends in security and observability on the earnings call.

“One of the things I found really interesting is seeing the leverage we get from traditional security customers toward observability,” Steele said. “The market opportunity is very simple, in the sense that when something goes wrong overnight and there’s an application error, companies want to know, ‘Is that a security issue? Or is that just an application bug?’ And it really looks at a lot of the same data, so we benefit from having that insight.”

Beth Pariseau, senior news writer at TechTarget, is an award-winning veteran of IT journalism. She can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter @PariseauTT.

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