Log Files: Search, Short Cuts, and Low Costs

February 26, 2014

I read “Splunk Feels the Heat from Stronger, Cheaper Open Source Rivals.” InfoWorld is up to its old tricks again. Log files have been around for decades. Many organizations allow more recent entries to overwrite previous log files. I know that some people believe that this practice has gone the way of the dodo. Well, would you like to buy a bridge?

For those who keep log files and want to figure out what treasures nestle therein, an outfit has marketed an expensive “search” system. Splunk is the darling of many information technology gurus. In Washington, DC, I am surprised when laborers in the Federal vineyard do not sport a Splunk tattoo.

IDC’s view is that there is charge rolling down the road. The write up points out that Splunk is no longer limited. Like most information access systems, the company has expanded. In fact, the wizards at IDC parrot the jargon: Analytics. Here’s the passage I noted:

Splunk started strong and has only grown stronger as it’s branched out to become a wide-ranging analytics platform. But the free version of Splunk is quite limited, and the enterprise version’s pricing is based on the amount of data indexed, which adds up to prohibitive costs for some.

The important factoid is, in my opinion, cost. Most organizations want to reduce costs for some little understood information tasks. Making heads or tails out of the ever burgeoning and frequently overwritten log files may be at the top of the budget tightening list.

IDC, truly an expert in open source software, points out that “open source competition has been emerging in the background.” I suppose that’s why IDC is selling at $3,500 a whack analyses of open source such as this gem produced in part by IDC’s wizards. See Report 237410. Who wrote that? Worth a look I suppose.

The angle is that Graylog2 and Elasticsearch are chasing after Splunk. I am not sure if this is old news, good news, or silly news. What’s clear is that InfoWorld is covering open source and not emphasizing its deep research.

Cost control is a subtle point. I am delighted that the write up creeps up on one of the central attributes of open source software: No license fees. But what of the costs of installing, tuning, and maintaining the open source solution? Ah, not included in the write up. If you pony up $3,500 for an IDC open source report, I assume more substance is provided. Who wrote those IDC open source reports like 237410? Was it an IDC analyst, marketer, or reporter? Did the information come from another source?

Anyway, good PR for Elasticsearch. Bad PR for Splunk.

Stephen E Arnold, February 26, 2014


One Response to “Log Files: Search, Short Cuts, and Low Costs”

  1. Charlie Hull on February 26th, 2014 8:54 am

    Last night’s Elasticsearch London meetup (see my blog for a writeup) contained a presentation from Goldman Sachs who are monitoring 1.2 billion log lines (from the last five days) using Redis, Logstash, Elasticsearch & Kibana. All open source. I doubt they’d pay for Splunk now…

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