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Observations on Splunk .conf2015 from a Mainframe Dinosaur

Only recently I rejoined the Syncsort team after a 28-year hiatus (so much for Thomas Wolfe’s “You Can’t Go Home Again”). During my professional journey I spent the bulk of my career focused on mainframe performance and availability management working on OMEGAMON and other performance management products.  I started my career as a systems programmer, then joined Syncsort with its strong focus on CPU and I/O performance for mainframe sort applications. Seems I was destined to become a performance and availability-management professional.

Syncsort @ .conf 2015
The Syncsort team at Splunk .conf2015

When Syncsort launched Ironstream® to capture and bring mainframe syslog, security, and performance data to the Splunk Enterprise platform, it was the right time for me to come home, Mr. Wolfe.

So I just got back from my first Splunk .conf in Las Vegas where a met a lot of “Splunkers” (Splunk’s term for their employees) and “Splunkees” (my term for Splunk users).

My first impression was that no one over the age of 30 could be a Splunker. This led me to wonder how in the world are they going to understand mainframe performance when mainframe folks are all just “a little bit older”.  Happily, though, I was wrong, because I then ran into a couple of “old” colleagues with mainframe-performance backgrounds who are now actually Splunkers.

The second observation is that Splunk is very focused on IT Service with their IT Service Intelligence (ITSI) application.  Many of the conference sessions dealt with the elements that comprise an IT service and how IT service intelligence is effectively monitored and measured.

So what possessed these “old” mainframe folks to become Splunkers?  Could it be that 71% of the Fortune 500 companies do the bulk of their transaction processing on IBM z/OS mainframes?  Better believe it!  You can’t even begin to monitor IT service without ensuring that critical mainframe systems, sub-systems, applications, and databases are included in any IT Service Intelligence program . . . and you need the expertise to help put that strategy in place.

My third observation is that the Splunkees are cult-like in their dedication and passion for Splunk.  They love the technology and strive to make it successful in meeting business objectives in their organizations.  Some 4,000 Splunkees paid to attend the conference and the Splunk University sessions that proceeded it.  How many other technical conferences can still claim rising attendance year over year?

Packed house for the IT Operations Super Session at #Splunkconf
Packed house for the IT Operations Super Session at Splunk .conf2015

With more and more mainframe experts retiring, the Fortune 500 and other companies that remain dependent upon IBM mainframes are going to require different tools — tools that can be used by personnel with different skill sets.

That’s where Syncsort Ironstream comes in.  When coupled with Splunk Enterprise, the combo provides those organizations with the tools needed to ensure IT service intelligence for performance, availability, and security.  Using Ironstream to bring mainframe data into Splunk, and leveraging it as part of an organizations IT Service Intelligence strategy, will ensure success for those organizations.

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