Splunk Hires Former Microsoft Fellow, Opens R&D Center in Seattle

Four examples is enough for a bona fide trend. Joining its Bay Area neighbors Facebook, Salesforce.com, and Zynga, San Francisco-based Splunk plans to announce this week that it’s opening a satellite office in Seattle. To be led by former Microsoft engineer Brad Lovering, the office will be an R&D outpost for the fast-growing company, whose real-time data center monitoring software bridges the business-intelligence and security markets.

Lovering is a big catch for Splunk. At Microsoft he was one of about 20 Technical Fellows, a distinction saved for senior engineers who drive innovative projects that shape Microsoft’s business strategy. Lovering worked on Microsoft’s Visual Studio and Visual Basic products, Biztalk Server, and the .NET framework. Within .NET, Lovering led work on the Windows Communication Foundation, a programming model for cloud-like applications, and Windows Workflow Foundation, an approach for scaling up server applications. He left the Redmond, WA, giant last October.

The opportunity to hire Lovering was the “immediate driver” for Splunk’s expansion to Seattle, according to John Connors, a partner at Ignition Partners who led that firm’s investment in Splunk and sits on its board of directors. But the move would have come sooner or later anyway. “The company had plans to expand to Seattle, and Brad joining accelerated those plans,” Connors says.

In a statement, Splunk co-founder and chief technology officer Erik Swan said Lovering’s job would be to help Splunk’s customers—which include almost half of the Fortune 100—build new applications on top of the company’s “operational intelligence” software, which can be used to index huge data files and spot business-relevant correlations in the data as soon as they emerge. For that role, “There is no one better suited than the person who helped Microsoft become a leading development platform,” Swan said.

Lovering himself says the focus of the Seattle office will be on “enabling developers to build custom solutions using Splunk technology. That is possible today in some limited ways and our focus will be on systematically enabling Splunk to be used as a platform by developers. The developer work has been on the Splunk roadmap for some time and the creation of the Seattle office puts a team in place that is dedicated to driving it.”

In addition to Silicon Valley companies like Splunk, Facebook, Zynga, and Salesforce.com, Google has been beefing up its presence in Seattle. And meanwhile, Twitter bought Seattle-based startup Cloudhopper last April, so that’s one to watch as well. But there’s movement in the other direction, too: Intel plans to close its research lab near the University of Washington in Seattle and open a new science and technology center at Stanford University.

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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