Glen Patrick had spent almost four years as the technology delivery lead for the Internal Revenue Department when he set out for his next challenge.
It could have been anything, frankly, judging by a career that Patrick himself calls a “fairly chequered background in terms of IT”.
But part of his role at the IRD was monitoring the agency’s networks and assets, which is how he first came across Splunk.
“I was looking at different business models to work with for a number of years,” says Patrick, now the managing director of tech-reseller GKC. “I decided from the companies that I’d seen do well that I wanted an emerging technology. I wanted something that could be used for a number of things within an organisation, large scale organisations.”
The light switched on for Patrick and in 2011 he set out with his own business, GKC, a single-vendor shop aimed at a niche Patrick said hadn’t been filled before.
“I’d already kind of decided there wasn’t any orgnaisation that looks at operational visibility and monitoring with the visibility that Splunk gives you,” says Patrick. “Everyone else is an integrator that does other things — services, virtualisation or security — but no one really looks at monitoring a company’s IT systems as a speciality so it seemed like a good niche to get into.”
GKC seems to have paid off for Patrick. The company now employs seven people, and has expanded its footprint from Wellington to Auckland and across to Australia, basically by selling Splunk. Last year, the company was named Splunk’s APAC reseller of the year.
Splunk is a cloud-based subscription-based monitoring solution that allows users to generate views of data across a network according to particular needs. GKC has managed to make a go of it by doing “everything from pre-sales to sales to architecture and implementation” says Patrick.
“We develop the dashboards,” he says. “We’re a certified training partner so we can deliver the curriculum. We can even develop Splunk applications.”
Splunk recently added SplunkDB which allows the monitoring of unstructured data.
Patrick says because Splunk doesn’t rely on agents, but a combination of data collection methods, the product gives customers more flexibility in selecting the data they want to track.
Licensing is based on per day data usage, with a free low-end trial version.
“In our business model, we’ll get a starter licence into an organisation and people over time will grow that licence,” says Patrick. “One company started at 5GB a day, and then upgraded to 50GB a day. Seventy percent of our revenue comes from upgrades.”
Patrick finally came to Splunk after doing practically everything else in IT.
“I’ve done lots of roles from fixing laptops to the architecture level work. I’ve done security and project management,” he says.
Patrick says the company sells across several verticals, including banking and government. While the company can scale down to smaller sized organisations, it seems optimised for companies with different silos looking at the same network data, but in different ways.
“You collect all the information in one hit, store it centrally and provide different views to different people,” he says. “The ones at the coal face, operational staff, they want to see if their web servers are running, say, and the business side might want to see how much money they’re turning over in sales and marketing might want a view of what the most popular items are.”
Patrick says most of GKC’s customers have been won by 'pounding the pavement', which for his sales team starts off as a fact-finding mission.
“You can’t go in to a customer and say, ‘You have a problem with your SQL server and here’s a tool and here’s the reports it gives you,’” says Patrick. “We go in and we have to start the conversation around, 'what are your problems'?”
“For every sale that we do of any size, you don’t go in, talk to one guy and go home with a PO,” he says. “It’s quite a process we go through and it’s a significant investment on our behalf”