October 22, 2013

"Other people can talk about how to expand the destiny of mankind. I just want to talk about how to fix a motorcycle. I think that what I have to say has more lasting value." -- Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

It is highly likely that you, right now, have a platform for Big Data analysis inside your institution. You probably also have at least one individual who is highly skilled at monitoring, searching, analyzing, visualizing and acting on unstructured streams of critical business data. The unstructured data is the record of activity and behavior of your customers, users, transactions, applications and IT infrastructure. The individual is probably the IT operations guru assigned to Splunk Enterprise.

Are you using Splunk? The chances are very good that you are -- according to its website, Splunk includes over 300 financial institutions among their clients. Splunk claims to "turn machine data into real-time operational intelligence," but most folks think of it as the systems management application that gathers up all of those application logs, configuration files, operating systems metrics, syslog data file and so on. It is what it does with the data that has made it one of the hottest products in the data center. By enabling correlations among all that collected data, Splunk provides the analytical firepower needed for application troubleshooting, investigating security incidents and monitoring service-level compliance.

This is only the beginning of what Splunk can do, however. Creative organizations are using Splunk to grow their business by analyzing customer usage patterns and geographical trends. The latest version, Splunk Enterprise 6, provide additional analytics and a new interface that allows users to manipulate, analyze and visualize data without needing to understand the format of the underlying raw machine data.

Before beginning the difficult (and expensive) search fro a data scientist, CIOs would be well-served to ask "where is that guy (or gal) who is fixing the motorcycle?"

Jennifer L. Costley, Ph.D. is a scientifically-trained technologist with broad multidisciplinary experience in enterprise architecture, software development, line management and infrastructure operations, primarily (although not exclusively) in capital markets. ...