Splunk Open Source Alternatives

Top 15 Splunk Alternatives Open Source in 2024

Splunk is a popular commercial log management and analysis software. However, for many use cases an open source alternative can work just as well at a fraction of the cost. This article explores the top 15 open source alternatives to Splunk in 2024 based on features, capabilities, and ease of use.

Key Takeaways:

  • Open source Splunk alternatives can provide similar functionality at a fraction of the cost of commercial Splunk licensing.
  • Top options include ELK Stack, Graylog, Kafka + Kubernetes, Fluentd + Kibana, and Logstash + Kibana.
  • Hosted solutions like Logz.io eliminate infrastructure management overhead.
  • Commercial offerings like Elastic Stack and Grafana Enterprise package up open source software with additional features.
  • Choosing the right open source alternative depends on use case, scale needs, analytics requirements, and available skills.
  • The ELK stack is the most popular and capable open source alternative to Splunk.

Why consider open source Splunk alternatives

Here are some of the main reasons to consider using an open source alternative to Splunk:

  • Cost: Commercial Splunk licensing can be very expensive especially as data volumes grow. Open source options are free to use.
  • Customization: Open source tools allow you to customize and extend functionality to suit your needs.
  • Control: You have more control and flexibility over the infrastructure with open source platforms.

Top open source Splunk alternative options

1. ELK Stack

The ELK stack consists of three open source products Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana:

  • Elasticsearch – Distributed search and analytics engine.
  • Logstash – Server-side data processing and forwarding pipeline.
  • Kibana – Visualization dashboard for analytics.

The ELK stack is a very capable and popular alternative used by many organizations for log management and analytics. It matches most Splunk core capabilities at a fraction of the cost.

2. Graylog

Graylog is an open source log management platform that includes search, analytics, data processing pipelines, and alerts. Key capabilities:

  • Distributed log collection using multiple Graylog nodes
  • Search and analytics functionality via embedded Elasticsearch instance
  • Processing pipelines for parsing, enrichment, and transformations
  • Alerting and notifications
  • Dashboards and visualizations

Graylog is designed specifically for managing and analyzing log data making it a good alternative to evaluate. The free open source version covers most common log management use cases.

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3. Apache Kafka + Kubernetes

Apache Kafka is a distributed streaming platform while Kubernetes provides container orchestration. Together they can be leveraged to build a scalable log analytics pipeline:

  • Kafka handles high volume streams of log data
  • Kubernetes schedules and manages parsing, processing and analytics jobs
  • Additional open source tools provide search, dashboards, and alerts

Building your own log pipeline provides extreme flexibility and customization for advanced analytics use cases. But it does require significant engineering expertise.

Light weight logging pipelines

The following open source tools provide lighter weight alternatives for managing logs:

4. Fluentd + Kibana

  • Fluentd – Log collector and forwarder with flexible configuration
  • Kibana – Same dashboard and visualization layer as the ELK stack

Fluentd makes it easy to consolidate logs from many different sources into Kibana for storage and analysis. Lightweight alternative ideal for smaller deployments.

5. Logstash + Kibana

  • Logstash – Scalable log parsing and processing pipeline tool
  • Kibana – Dashboards and visualizations

Similar to the Fluentd stack above except using Logstash for the data ingestion pipeline feeding into Kibana on the frontend. Provides more advanced parsing and analytics capabilities.

6. Filebeat + Elasticsearch + Kibana

  • Filebeat – Lightweight shipper for forwarding and centralizing log data
  • Elasticsearch – Storage and search / analytics engine
  • Kibana – Visualization layer

Filebeat is an extremely lightweight alternative for gathering logs making it suitable for large scale deployments. Part of the Beats platform from Elastic providing an alternative data shipper to Logstash.

Alternative search and storage engines

While Elasticsearch is the most popular search and storage engine used with Kibana, here are some alternative options:

7. InfluxDB

  • InfluxDB – Timeseries database optimized for metrics and events
  • Designed for high write and query loads making it suitable for infra and application monitoring analytics
  • Can be combined with Grafana for visualizations

InfluxDB provides an alternative database engine for storing and analyzing time series log data with high performance loads. Provides capabilities beyond just text search.

8. Apache Solr

  • Apache Solr is a popular open source enterprise search platform
  • Focuses specifically on text search and analytics
  • Can be paired with data visualization tools like Banana or Kibiter

Solr provides more advanced search functionality over Elasticsearch and can be easier to scale in some scenarios. Lack of tight integration with a visualization engine makes the overall workflow more complex.

9. TimescaleDB

  • TimescaleDB is an open source time series SQL database
  • Enables complex analytics queries across large volumes of time series data including log events
  • Packaged as a PostgreSQL extension bringing familiar SQL query language
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TimescaleDB is the ideal platform for storing log data and running custom analytical queries using full SQL capabilities. Provides great flexibility but requires more Database admin skills.

Hosted log management solutions

For teams that want a fully hosted log management solution without managing their own infrastructure, here are two top open source options:

10. Logz.io

  • Logz.io provides a managed ELK Stack in the cloud all in one platform.
  • Hosted ELK Stack with enterprise grade SLAs, security, and customer support.
  • Additional functionality like alerts, live tailing, and graph builders.

Logz.io is great for organizations that like the ELK stack but don’t want the DevOps overhead of running it themselves.

11. Grafana Cloud

  • Grafana Cloud offers a fully managed observability platform.
  • Prometheus, Graphite, Loki and logging capabilities with Grafana for visualiztions.
  • Additional features like alert notification channels.
  • Great option for a managed open source monitoring and logging solution.

Grafana Cloud provides logging, metrics, and tracing with alerting everything you need for cloud native observability.

On-prem turnkey appliances

If you prefer an on-prem solution, here are two commercial open core platforms to consider that package up open source software:

12. GRAFINSIGHT

  • GRAFINSIGHT provides the open source Grafana stack bundled as enterprise software.
  • Grafana Enterprise includes role based access control, advanced reporting, enterprise plugins and 24x7x365 support.
  • Tightly integrated suite for logs, metrics and tracing.

GRAFINSIGHT makes it easier to run open source Grafana in production with enterprise capabilities and expert support.

13. Elastic Stack

Elastic commercial offerings make running Elasticsearch, Kibana and the ELK stack easier in production. Bundles open source software with additional enterprise features and support.

13. Apache Hadoop Stack

The Hadoop stack provides a distributed computing platform using many loosely coupled open source components:

  • Hadoop Distributed File System (HDFS) Scalable distributed storage system for huge amounts of log data.
  • MapReduce – Distributed data processing and analysis engine.
  • Apache Hive – Data warehouse system for querying, summarizing, and analyzing data. SQL like language to run queries on large datasets.
  • Apache Pig – High level platform to analyze large datasets using simple scripting.

The Hadoop stack is extremely flexible and scalable, but requires considerable skills to assemble and manage in production. The Hive data warehouse aspect makes it good for analytics use cases.

14. Apache Druid

Apache Druid is a lightweight distributed data store designed for high performance analytics. Key capabilities:

  • Real time ingestion and analytics queries on streaming and batch data
  • Column oriented data storage optimized for aggregation queries and time series analysis
  • Fault tolerant distributed architecture for high uptime and scalability
  • Integrates with visualization tools like Apache Superset
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Like Elastic, Druid is focused on analytics but supports fewer data formats and data loading options. Where Druid shines is high performance aggregation and grouping queries across both real time and historical data.

15. InfluxDB + Telegraf + Grafana

The TICK stack created by InfluxData combines:

  • Telegraf – Lightweight plugin driven server agent for collecting and reporting metrics
  • InfluxDB – Scalable time series database for real time analytics
  • Chronograf – Visualization and dashboarding tools for metrics
  • Kapacitor – Data processing engine for creating alerts, running ETL jobs, and detecting anomalies

Designed as an end-to-end platform specifically for infrastructure and application performance monitoring analytics with time series data. Integrates smoothly across all components.

Conclusion

There are many capable open source alternatives to the commercial Splunk platform for managing and analyzing log data. The ELK stack is the most popular option providing similar functionality at lower cost. Products like Graylog provide an integrated solution specifically for IT operations use cases.

For teams with more advanced analytics needs, building a custom platform on Kafka, Kubernetes and other open source components provides extreme flexibility. Hosted platforms like Logz.io eliminate infrastructure management overhead. Ultimately the key is first understanding your log data challenges, analytics needs and budget. This will help narrow down the best open source Splunk alternative for your unique requirements.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the easiest open source alternative to get started with?

The hosted ELK solutions like Logz.io provide the fastest way to get started with minimal DevOps overhead. They remove all infrastructure management complexity.

Can open source handle petabyte scale log volumes?

Yes, with the right architecture using Kafka, Kubernetes, and distributed storage engines like Elasticsearch or Cassandra extremely large log volumes can be managed.

Is Graylog better than ELK?

They both have pros and cons. ELK provides more flexibility and has broader adoption. Graylog is simpler and more integrated specifically for log management use cases. Evaluate both to see which better matches your needs.

How do the commercial Elastic Stack and Grafana tools compare?

They take different approaches. The Elastic Stack integrates end-to-end logging, metrics, tracing, and APM while Grafinsight focuses specifically on visualizing and analyzing monitoring data. Both meet enterprise requirements but their scopes differ.

Which open source log analysis platform requires the most internal skills?

Building your own platform on Kafka, Kubernetes, Cassandra and other distributed systems provides extreme power and flexibility but requires highly skilled DevOps, data engineering and data science teams that can leverage these complex tools. Other products like the ELK stack are easier for less advanced internal teams to operationalize.

MK Usmaan