Forget about the sales, the vendors, the swag, and the keynotes. After all, every conference seems to have those items in abundant supply, whether or not you want them. Let’s instead turn our faces out of the darkness and into the shining light of an aspect of Splunk .conf that is pervasive and essential. Community. And not just backyard barbecues, yard sales, and block parties. To speak specifically, I mean the Splunk Community.
The Splunk Community is a vibrant, engaged, and rich community, and one that I am proud to say I am a member and leader. But why does it matter? Why would a t-shirt company (who makes an awesome data fabric software platform) need a strong community? I like to think that without a strong community, there is no foundation for excellence. After all, who uses Splunk? People! Which people? Any people! So who needs help? All people! So if those people need help, how should they be helped? By People!
By providing a myriad of options for documentation, communication, and support, free of use to anybody remotely interested in Splunk (the software), Splunk (the company) has given us (the People) a tremendous amount of power. Power that helps drive innovation, bug fixes, documentation updates, and a transparency a-typical of software companies. And with these resources, we propel our usage and understanding of Splunk (the software) to higher and higher levels.
Not only does Splunk provide access to these resources, they also promote and recognize customers, partners, and users who go above and beyond the call of duty. There is the SplunkTrust, a collection of non-Splunk people who help lead community efforts in the form of blogging, answering questions, and leading usergroups. There are the Revolution Awards, highlighting awesome work done with Splunk from every aspect imaginable. There are hackathons, Splunk App Contests, SplunkLives, and of course the User Conference, which are just a few of the events that Splunk produces to help users achieve greatness.
There is only one other software community that appears to have the voracity of ours. Atlassian (JIRA, Confluence, HipChat, etc) also has a vibrant community, one of which I play a lesser role, but it is still important nonetheless. Atlassian encourages usergroups, forums, contests, and events similar to Splunk, which may explain the popularity of their products. A strong community promotes strong products. Listening to the users, evaluating their concerns, and acting to produce results will encourage and build a strong community, which then builds a strong company and product base.
We as a community have a unique insight into the product we use everyday. We have a place to find clear and open documentation, which exposes all the little hidden configuration bits that, at the same time, excite and frustrate us (docs.splunk.com). We have a place to find expansive and detailed explanation into how to make Splunk (the platform) do anything we want to support our needs (dev.splunk.com). We have a place to meet like-minded people with the same goals, frustrations, and joys as we do (usergroups.splunk.com). We have a place to ask questions, and receive answers from others in the community (answers.splunk.com). We have a place to collaborate in real-time with others from around the world (Slack - www.splunk402.com/chat to signup). We have a place to be cheeky in our anonymity, and generally help those in the old school (#splunk on IRC efnet.org). We have a place to share and display our integrations with other products (splunkbase.splunk.com). We have a place to meet, once a year, and hear how others are using Splunk, extending Splunk, and innovating with Splunk (conf.splunk.com ). In other words, We Have A Place.
And if Cheers taught us anything, isn’t it great to have a place where everybody knows your name?