Splunk Vs Elk: Which One Should You Choose?


Splunk is so popular in the industry that it has come to be known as the “Google for log files.” Splunk is one of the top DevOps tools in the market. Apart from being a log management and analysis solution, Splunk is also a Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) solution.


ELK is the short form of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. Offered by software company Elastic, ELK is an open-source, consolidated data analytics platform. ELK’s software stack comprises of Elasticsearch (distributed RESTful search/analytics engine), Logstash (a data processing pipeline), and Kibana (for data visualization). Only recently did Beats (agent-based, single-purpose data shipping) join the stack.

Splunk vs ELK

Let’s break down the differences between Splunk and ELK into six components:

1. Technology

Essentially, Splunk is a single closed-source product, whereas ELK combines the power of three open-source products — ElasticSearch, LogStash, and Kibana. Although both Splunk and ELK use an Agent to collect the log file data from the target servers, in Splunk, the Splunk Universal Forwarder is the Agent, and in ELK, LogStash functions as the Agent.

2. Visualizations

The Splunk Web UI is equipped with flexible controls that let you edit and add new components to your dashboard. You can configure the management and user controls for multiple users where each user can have a customized dashboard. Another great aspect of Splunk is that it supports visualizations on mobile devices as well. Even on mobile devices, you can customize the application and visualization components using XML.

3. Cost

When it comes to cost, ELK is open-source, meaning it is free. You can use ELK free of cost. Splunk, however, comes with a price. You can get a Term license for which you have to pay per year, or you could get a perpetual license, which is just a one-time fee plus an annual support fee. Splunk’s license fee is based on the Daily Log Volume that is indexed.

4. Ease of Use

Even though both Spunk and ELK are relatively easy to deploy and use, Splunk’s dashboards incorporate much more accessible features than ELK’s. Also, the configuration options of Splunk are a tad refined and more intuitive than that of ELK. Furthermore, many users may find ELK’s user management features to be more challenging to use than Splunk’s.

5. API and Extensibility

Splunk has a well-documented RESTful API that contains more than 200 endpoints for accessing various features in Splunk, including SDKs in the most popular languages. Contrary to this, ELK’s Elasticsearch is a distributed search and analytics engine that leverages the standard RESTful API and JSON. However, like Splunk, it also provides many pre-built options for building custom apps in popular languages like Python, Java, .NET, to name a few.

6. Learning Curve

ELK Stack has a flat learning curve. Since ELK offers paid courses (not too expensive) that help you understand the nitty-gritty of the solution, it becomes easier to master ELK. Plus, ELK is an open-source platform, which means that there are always plenty of free learning resources online. As for Splunk, it has a moderate learning curve. Although Splunk offers a trial period with extensive documentation, if you wish to go for the advanced Splunk courses, you will have to shell out a substantial amount of money.

Wrapping Up

To conclude, both Splunk and ELK are excellent solutions. Each has its unique advantages and limitations, and hence, the benefits of these two tools largely depend on user-specific needs and requirements. Although at present, Splunk can boast of a much more extensive offering base, remember that ELK is open-source. So, new additions are being made to it even as we speak.



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