Erik Swan

Is Splunk, heading towards IPO, really the next Oracle?

April 28, 2011: 1:54 PM ET

The startup aims to take reams of computer generated data and make it digestible to humans. That could make it CEO Godfrey Sullivan's second multi-billion dollar company.

Image representing Splunk as depicted in Crunc...

Image via CrunchBase

FORTUNE -- Companies like SAP (SAP), Oracle (ORCL) and IBM (IBM) sell fancy business software that analyzes data created by humans. But what about the terabytes upon terabytes of data that are created by machines? That's where Splunk comes in. You may not have heard of the oddly named startup, which got its start as a search engine for IT professionals, but you probably will soon. The company is growing fast and is now used by all kinds of businesses to not only extract but also analyze all sorts of machine-generated data (the dense and opaque log files created by servers, applications and devices "talking" to each other).

Since launching in 2004, Splunk has signed on a diverse enterprise customer base ranging from Cisco Systems (CSCO) to Macy's (M) to Vodafone, who use Splunk's service to monitor routers and switches, manage servers and investigate virus attacks. To date, the company has about 2,500 customers across 74 countries.

"We expanded from a few IT guys using it down in the basement to the people running the business," says Godfrey Sullivan, Splunk's CEO. "People are beginning to see the value in machine data." More

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