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9/18/2006
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Searching Inward: Newest Splunk Version Indexes Log Data From Multiple Servers

Other improvements include command-line APIs and needing 40% less storage capacity for indexing and storing original log and IT data.

Think of Splunk as a Google for systems administrators, a search tool that looks inward, hunting for problems found in logging data culled and indexed from a company's IT systems. The latest iteration of the 9-month-old tool, Splunk 2.1, was released Monday and adds features that mimic another Google practice: furnishing command-line APIs to the search engine so third parties can write independent applications that exploit its search technology.

Software writers can use Splunk's APIs to create a Flash application that, for instance, monitors real-time security threats and visually displays where attacks originate.

Another example, envisioned by Splunk CEO Michael Baum, is a visual business tool for marketers that depicts major sites blocking e-mail as indexed in a company's internal IT systems logs.

Other advancements of Splunk 2.1 include the ability to run on multiple servers, with search results merged and presented in an interactive Ajax Web user interface. The new version requires 40% less storage capacity for indexing and storing original log and IT data. Baum contends Splunk is up to five times faster than other log technologies and log appliances, with the potential of achieving unlimited indexing speeds by clustering multiple servers. Indexing speeds range from 20,000 to 120,000 events a second on a single server.

Since introducing the product in January, Splunk has recorded some 60,000 downloads of its free version. Splunk claims 70 paying customers--including Apple, BEA, Comcast, FedEx, Sony, Sybase, Vodafone, the U.S. Postal Service, and the U.S. departments of Energy and State--and expects to exceed 100 paid customers by year's end.

Pricing is based on the peak daily volume, starting at $2,500 a year for 512 Mbytes of raw uncompressed data indexed. It can scale up to 1,000 Gbytes for $300,000 a year.

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