AI/ML, Generative AI, Channel partner events

Splunk, Cisco Unveil AI Strategy, Products at .conf24

Splunk Go-to-Market President and Cisco GM Gary Steele at Splunk .conf24

Splunk and Cisco went all in on AI at Splunk .conf24 this week in Las Vegas with strategy statements and a slew of product announcements and partnership initiatives that demonstrated the trajectory and focus of the newly converged company.

The company's announcements along these lines during the opening keynote address begin to flesh out the promise of Cisco's acquisition of observability and cybersecurity giant Splunk, announced in September 2023 for $28 billion.

Cisco go-to-market president and Splunk GM Gary Steele was joined on stage by Cisco CEO and chair Chuck Robbins to establish a key message to “Splunkers” in attendance. The message is that AI will have an enduring presence in everything Splunk and Cisco will do together to protect data, networks and more. Proclaiming a “new AI era,” Steele described AI as “the most transforming technology we’ll see in our lifetime” and exulted its “limitless potential.”

“If you think about the fact that Cisco has visibility to a billion endpoints, we see 400 billion security events a day,” Steele said. “We've got massive information coming out of the network. We see everything going on in the internet everywhere. We can actually predict where they're going to be outages. So when you talk about digital resilience, and you take all the insights that Cisco had before, and we feed it into what you already do with Splunk, that just makes it better."

Robbins said the new AI systems Splunk and Cisco have developed can predict where those outages will be and immediately address them.

However, while AI delivers benefits it also is compounding existing challenges and creating new ones, especially in terms of the acceleration of voluminous data that needs to managed and secured. These are challenges, says Steele, that are too complex for siloed tools. Toward that end, the innovation factory happening between Splunk and Cisco and rolled out to its channel partners is poised to set new industry standards for service delivery and product advancement, he said.

Cybersecurity Central to Splunk's and Cisco's Strategy

With a nod toward Cisco’s software capabilities and Splunk’s security prowess, Robbins said, “Three to four years ago we made the decision to double down on investments in security,” noting how the companies continue to pump more money into research and development. Or, as he put it, “Security for AI and AI for Security"... "to go up against the bad actors." He also reminded the audience Splunk security solutions are now available natively on Microsoft Azure.

Splunk AI Assistant Announcements

Hao Yang, Splunk’s vice president of AI, took the stage to announce the debut of Splunk AI Assistant. He explained how Splunk has expanded its AI capabilities with new generative AI assistants in observability cloud and security, providing customers with improved IT visibility and enhanced proactive threat mitigation capabilities. Splunk AI Assistant for SPL is now generally available, helping customers derive insights from Splunk using natural language.

Splunk has unveiled new AI capabilities for IT Service Intelligence (ITSI). These include Configuration Assistant, which is aimed at streamlining configuration processes and optimizing operational efficiency. Also, Drift Detection for KPIs and entity-level Adaptive Thresholds for more accurate detection are here.

“AI is the cornerstone of Splunk’s strategy for driving enhancements with our industry-leading security and observability solutions,” Yang said. “Our AI Assistants are designed to help users do their jobs easier and faster. We are currently adding generative AI tools to our product portfolio to accelerate detection, investigation and response workflows. Looking ahead, we aim to further refine the integration of advanced AI technologies and continue to deliver more reliable and more secure IT outcomes for our customers.”

Splunk’s AI Assistant in Observability Cloud introduces a generative AI-powered feature designed to streamline detection, exploration and investigation for engineering teams, with a natural language interface. By analyzing metrics, traces and logs, the AI Assistant helps enable software developers and Site Reliability Engineers (SREs) to quickly extract valuable insights, accelerating their day-to-day tasks, root cause analysis and issue resolution. This removes barriers and reduces expertise required to solve problems, making troubleshooting and data exploration journeys more accessible and increasing operational efficiency, according to the company.

AI Assistant in Security: Coming Soon

Splunk also unveiled at .conf24 the AI Assistant in Security. Designed to expedite security analysts’ investigations and daily workflows by leveraging generative AI capabilities, this assistant streamlines the investigative process with analyst guidance and summarizes incident data.

Offering AI-assisted security workflow guidance and generating security-specific Splunk Search Processing Language (SPL) accelerates investigations and response times. These capabilities enable analysts to fortify defenses against evolving threats with simplified processes and enhanced efficiency.

Additionally, Splunk AI Assistant for SPL helps customers interact with Splunk’s data analytics platform using natural language, bridging the gap between human intuition and machine-driven analytics. This tool allows analysts to execute complex analysis using natural language, understand existing Splunk Processing Language (SPL) queries with step-by-step explanations and search through product documentation to answer how-to questions.

The AI Assistant in Observability Cloud is now in private preview. The AI Assistant in Security will become available in private preview in August 2024. Splunk AI Assistant for SPL is now generally available to Splunk Cloud Platform customers with AWS globally. IT Service Intelligence (ITSI) and its Configuration Assistant feature are generally available, with Drift Detection for KPIs and entity-level Adaptive Thresholds in public preview.

Jim Masters

Jim Masters is Managing Editor of MSSP Alert, and holds a B.A. degree in Journalism from Northern Illinois University. His career has spanned governmental and investigative reporting for daily newspapers in the Northwest Indiana Region and 16 years in a global internal communications role for a Fortune 500 professional services company. Additionally, he is co-owner of the Lake County Corn Dogs minor league baseball franchise, located in Crown Point, Indiana. In his spare time, he enjoys writing and recording his own music, oil painting, biking, volleyball, golf and cheering on the Corn Dogs.