San Francisco-headquartered company, Splunk, first set foot in Australia in 2010 with the hire of Dan Miller (currently Australia and New Zealand general manager). Now it is making some bold moves in the channel. ARN spoke to A/NZ channel sales manager, Richard Smith.
Nermin Bajric (NB): What is Splunk’s mission, and which companies do you perceive as its primary competitors?
Richard Smith (RS): Rob Das and Erik Swan started Splunk around 2003 because they identified a massive gap in terms of some Silicon Valley companies which needed operational visibility of everything in their datacentre. It is a software company. The mission of Splunk is to put a searchlight on data living in silos and get business and IT value from connecting the dots; to make machine data available, useful, and valuable.
There are niche competitors out there, but there is no one single company which has the platform-based approach Splunk does. It sounds very glib, but the value customers and partners are getting from Splunk is across datacentres, desktops, mobile devices, security, and application management. The flexibility and how Splunk was designed is to allow machine data to be analysed and indexed, and then presented in a way that is useful for the audience using the data.
NB: What is the company’s sales model in Australia?
RS: Splunk is virtually all channel-driven in Australia. We have two distributors: DNA, which won distributor of the year for Asia-Pacific for three of the last four years, and we have had healthy growth through them; and Distribution Central’s Firewall Systems which came on board April last year. We also have 35 partners in Australia.
NB: What is the opportunity for (potential) Splunk partners?
RS: Splunk is engaged with partners from many technology sectors. Some success stories include Remora and Noveix, which have been on the journey with us for the last four years in Australia. The reason for their success is they have a deep understanding of a very complex part of the IT story, whether it is security or application management. They have seen the opportunity Splunk has provided to add to their existing business and earn strong revenues on the back of that, and to increase the engagement they have with end-users.
Over the last three years, we have a two-tier reseller program in place for authorised and powered partners. Authorised resellers is for those looking to commence their journey with Splunk; so if they have customer asking for the product, it allows them to transact with us through a reasonably straightforward agreement. As the business opportunity with Splunk becomes more and more apparent, we offer entry into the powered reseller tier. In this tier we ask for commitment in terms of education, technical enablement, and in return we give other benefits in terms of margins.
We are moving from being just a piece of software to an engine to becoming a platform. So we are looking for partners that have the deep business and technical connections, and can help us drive that process. Many of our partners are able to deliver that message, and we are delighted with their progress to date, but there is still opportunity for new partners to join and expand the usage of Splunk in Australia.
NB: How does Splunk aim to go about the shift from software to engine to platform?
RS: It’s all about establishing business value in front of the customer. The way we are doing that is to encourage partners to bring to us the problems that have always been difficult to solve in terms of IT service. So, how can partners increase their profitability by reducing the overhead of monitoring multiple systems; how can they improve their service to customers through understanding the value their IT platform delivers? Splunk’s mission of providing operational visibility allows both customers and partners to solve the ultimate output of what IT should deliver, and that is a better customer experience, lower cost of operation, and efficiency across the board.