Log managementsolutions play a crucial role in an enterprise's layeredsecurity framework ― without them, firms have little visibility into the actions and events occuring inside their infrastructures that could either lead to data breaches or signify a security compromise in progress. Splunk and ELK (a.k.a BELK or Elastic Stack) are two of the leading enterprise solutions in this category; let's see how they stack up in this comparison.
Most, if not all, systems and devices in today's IT environments generate extensive logfiles that record the minutiae of day-to-day operations: what resources were accessed and by who, activities performed, errors/exceptions encountered by the host, and more. As you can imagine, the volume of logfiles in any given organization's infrastructure can quickly become unwieldy. Log management and analysis solutions enableorganizations toglean collective, actionable intelligence from this sea of data.
Knownas the "Google for logfiles," Splunk is also marketedas a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution, on top of being a log management and analysis platform. SIEM is essentially log managementas applied to security: by unifying logfile datagatheredfrom a myriad of systems and devices acrossan IT environment, operators and infosec professionals can perform higher-order security analyses and assessments regarding the collective state of their systems from a single interface. Anabundance of SIEM products exist on the market, but Splunk reigns supreme in this category due to its aforementioned Google-esque search capabilities. The platform uses a proprietary search language calledSearch Processing Language (SPL) for traversing and executing contextual querieslarge data sets.
The SplunkUI. Source: splunk.com.
Splunkalso features over 1000apps and add-ons for extending the platform's capabilities to accomodate various data sources.
Short for Elasticsearch , Logstash , and Kibana , ELK is a consolidated data analytics platform from open source software developer Elastic. The company is most widely known for Elasticsearch, its scalable search platform based onApache Lucene.As withmany open source offerings targeting the enterprise, paid-for commerical supportand consulting are its bread and butter.ELK's software stack consists Elasticsearch (distributed RESTful search/analytics engine), Logstash (data processing pipeline), and Kibana (data visualization). More recently, Beats made its way into the stack, offering agent-based single purpose data shipping. This conglomerate is now marketed by Elastic as the open source Elastic Stack.
The ELKinterface. Source: elastic.co.
In addition to the ELK/Elastic stack, each of these technologiesis available as a discreet offering from Elastic.
Side-by-Side Scoring: Splunkvs.ELK/Elastic Stack
1. Capability Set
Splunk and ELK/Elastic Stack are powerful, comprehensive log management andanalysis platformsthat excel in fulfilling the requirements the most demanding enterprise use cases. Both arehighly customizable and offers a range of features you'd expect from a competent solution in this category: advanced reporting, robust search capabilities, alerting/notifications, data visualizations, and more.Splunk
2. Ease of Use
Both solutions are relativelyeasy to deploy and use, especially consideringeach respectiveplatform's breadth of features and capabilities. That said, Splunk's dashboards offermore accessible features and its configuration options are a bit more refined and intuitive than ELK/Elastic Stack's. Additionally, its user managementfeaturesarealso more challenging to use than Splunk's.Splunk
3. Community Support
Both aremarket leaders in their respective categorieswith a large community of users and supporters. Open source has its advantages, however, and ELK/Elastic Stack boasts a highly active and responsive developer/user community, as well as an abundance of resources available online. Check out Elastic's library of community-contributed clients for various programming languages.Splunk
4. Release Rate
Both solutionshave seen regular releases over the years: Splunk's enterprise offering is currently at version 6.5, while ELK/Elastic Stack releases―as a composite platform―are stratified per component. Currently, Elastic Stack (as well as its core components: Kibana, Elasticsearch, Beats, and Logstash) is at version 5.0. Full release histories for Elastic and Splunk are available on thevendors' websites.Splunk
5. Pricing and SupportSplunk is a proprietary enterprise offering with a high end price tag while ELK/Elastic Stack is a free, open source platform. Despite this, ELK/Elastic Stack's cost total cost of ownership can be quite substantial as well for expansive infrastructures: hardware costs, price of storage, and professional services can quickly add up. Both Splunk and ELK/Elastic Stack now offer cloud-based, hosted versions for more price-conscious organizations.In terms of support, both ELK/Elastic Stack and