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Logstash vs Splunk: What are the differences?


Logstash and Splunk are both popular tools used for data collection, analysis, and visualization. However, there are key differences between the two which make them suitable for different use cases.

  1. Data Storage: Logstash is an open-source tool that allows users to collect, parse, and store data. It offers various options for data storage, including Elasticsearch, Apache Kafka, and more. On the other hand, Splunk provides its own centralized data storage system, making it more suitable for organizations looking for a comprehensive data analytics platform.

  2. Data Collection: Logstash mainly focuses on collecting and parsing data from various sources, such as log files, databases, and APIs. It can be easily integrated with different data sources and allows users to customize data parsing and transformation. In contrast, Splunk offers a wider range of data collection methods, including forwarders, APIs, and connectors to common data sources like cloud platforms, making it more versatile for gathering data.

  3. Query and Search Capabilities: Both Logstash and Splunk provide search capabilities, but they differ in terms of ease of use and features. Logstash relies on Elasticsearch for search and querying, which offers powerful searching capabilities but requires some technical knowledge to configure and use effectively. On the other hand, Splunk's search and query language is more user-friendly and intuitive, allowing users to easily explore and analyze their data without extensive technical knowledge.

  4. Scalability and Performance: Logstash is known for its scalability and performance when it comes to handling large amounts of data. It can efficiently process and ingest huge volumes of data in real-time, making it suitable for big data processing. Splunk, on the other hand, may require additional resources and optimization to handle large-scale data processing, especially in distributed environments.

  5. Data Visualization and Dashboards: Splunk offers a wide range of data visualization options and pre-built dashboards. It provides users with interactive charts, graphs, and visual representations of data, allowing for easy understanding and analysis. Logstash, being primarily a data collection and processing tool, does not provide extensive built-in visualization capabilities, although it can be integrated with other visualization tools like Kibana.

  6. Pricing and Licensing: Another significant difference is the pricing and licensing model. Logstash is an open-source tool released under the Apache 2.0 license, making it free to use and modify. Splunk, on the other hand, has a commercial license and offers both free and paid versions. The paid versions of Splunk come with additional features, enterprise support, and scalability options but require a substantial investment.

In summary, Logstash is well-suited for organizations looking for an open-source, scalable, and customizable data collection and processing tool, while Splunk is a comprehensive data analytics platform with its own data storage and visualization capabilities, suitable for organizations with complex data analysis needs.

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Pros of Logstash
Pros of Splunk
  • 69
  • 18
    Easy but powerful filtering
  • 12
  • 2
    Kibana provides machine learning based analytics to log
  • 1
    Great to meet GDPR goals
  • 1
    Well Documented
  • 3
    API for searching logs, running reports
  • 3
    Alert system based on custom query results
  • 2
    Dashboarding on any log contents
  • 2
    Custom log parsing as well as automatic parsing
  • 2
    Ability to style search results into reports
  • 2
    Query engine supports joining, aggregation, stats, etc
  • 2
    Splunk language supports string, date manip, math, etc
  • 2
    Rich GUI for searching live logs
  • 1
    Query any log as key-value pairs
  • 1
    Granular scheduling and time window support

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Cons of Logstash
Cons of Splunk
  • 4
  • 1
    Documentation difficult to use
  • 1
    Splunk query language rich so lots to learn

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What is Logstash?

Logstash is a tool for managing events and logs. You can use it to collect logs, parse them, and store them for later use (like, for searching). If you store them in Elasticsearch, you can view and analyze them with Kibana.

What is Splunk?

It provides the leading platform for Operational Intelligence. Customers use it to search, monitor, analyze and visualize machine data.

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What companies use Logstash?
What companies use Splunk?
See which teams inside your own company are using Logstash or Splunk.
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What are some alternatives to Logstash and Splunk?
Fluentd collects events from various data sources and writes them to files, RDBMS, NoSQL, IaaS, SaaS, Hadoop and so on. Fluentd helps you unify your logging infrastructure.
Kafka is a distributed, partitioned, replicated commit log service. It provides the functionality of a messaging system, but with a unique design.
Beats is the platform for single-purpose data shippers. They send data from hundreds or thousands of machines and systems to Logstash or Elasticsearch.
Centralize and aggregate all your log files for 100% visibility. Use our powerful query language to search through terabytes of log data to discover and analyze important information.
Elasticsearch is a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine capable of storing data and searching it in near real time. Elasticsearch, Kibana, Beats and Logstash are the Elastic Stack (sometimes called the ELK Stack).
See all alternatives