Tableau folds Splunk data into business analysis

A new connector provides a way to import Splunk data into Tableau's business intelligence platform

Tableau's business intelligence software can now import Splunk machine data

Tableau's business intelligence software can now import Splunk machine data

Organizations can now add machine-generated data to their palate of information sources that can be aggregated and analyzed, thanks to a new connector jointly developed by Tableau Software, a provider of business intelligence software, and Splunk, which sells a log-file search engine.

"You can do data mashups between marketing data from structured systems and machine data that comes from the actual interactions, and get insights on product analytics or customer experience," said Tapan Bhatt, Splunk vice president of business analytics.

Splunk Enterprise software gathers data from server and other device log files, which can hold copious amounts of information about what visitors do when they visit a Web page, or use a connected mobile application. Such data can be used to better understand how people are using these products, information that can aid in marketing efforts or to refine site design or operations.

Splunk originally marketed its search software for system and network administrators. It can be used to pinpoint performance problems and trouble spots. In the past few years, however, the company has added data analysis and visualization tools to allow business analysts use the machine data as well.

For instance, Web servers capture clickstream data, or data of how users move through a Web site. If, for example, if a lot of users are filling up their virtual shopping carts but not making their purchases, a site can pinpoint where the carts are being abandoned, and managers can look for potential issues there.

The new driver for Tableau expands the scope of how Splunk data can be used by the enterprise. It imports data captured by Splunk into Tableau's data processing and visualization environment.

As a result, business analysts can merge the event data generated by servers with other sources of data, which would potentially provide new insights into customer behavior or corporate operations.

With Tableau fusing Splunk's machine data with marketing data from other sources, a company can build more accurate profiles of who is using its services and what parts of the services they enjoy the most, Bhatt said.

"Customers are discovering a lot of their machine data is relevant to the business," Bhatt said.

A number of organizations have already been importing Splunk data into Tableau, said Ted Wasserman, Tableau product manager. That process tended to involve copying the machine data into a secondary file, such as spreadsheet.

Secondary copies of data can be problematic for a number of reasons, though. Secondary files add another step to the workflow and may not be updated with fresh information, Wasserman said.

"No one wants to move data around, especially large volume of data. So now you can cut out that middle step" with the connector, Wasserman said.

The connector is a ODBC (Open Database Connectivity) driver that is included in the Tableau 8.1.4 maintenance release.

Joab Jackson covers enterprise software and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Joab on Twitter at @Joab_Jackson. Joab's e-mail address is

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