Splunk targets cloud-server data with Storm

Log-management expert Splunk (s splk) has a new product called Storm that lets users search, manage and analyze their cloud computing machine data without having to download a thing. The offering, which became generally available on Tuesday, is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — a cloud-based version of the Splunk software tuned for cloud computing applications and that charges users a monthly fee depending on how much data they’re storing. And it has been a long time coming.

Splunk, of course, has made a name for itself over the past few years as a very useful tool for helping IT administrators search server logs to detect the causes of performance problems. More recently, the company has turned its attention to analytics, claiming its software is the best bet for helping companies analyze their machine data in real time and generate insights that might even affect business decisions. Riding the hype around big data and its considerable traction within IT departments, Splunk had a very successful initial public offering in March.

With Storm, Splunk is targeting users who both prefer a cloud-based delivery model (no software, no hardware and utility billing) and who generate lots of machine data from using cloud services such as Amazon Web Services (s amzn), Heroku (s crm) and Google App Engine (s goog). Despite its name recognition and on-premise track record, though, Splunk comes into SaaS world facing a fair amount of competition from companies born and bred in the cloud. These include Loggly (see disclosure), Sumo Logic and Papertrail.

What everyone playing in this space realizes is that the intersection of cloud computing and big data is going to be huge. Many people love using cloud services and also love the idea of capturing and analyzing all the data they’re generating while using those services. Combine the two, and you have something special. It remains to be seen who’ll flourish in the long run — there are numerous startups, including New Relic and ScaleXtreme, already bringing analytics into their cloud services — but there’s definitely money to be made.

Disclosure: Loggly is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, the founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.