What is the ELK Stack?
The ELK stack is an acronym used to describe a stack that comprises of three popular projects: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. Often referred to as Elasticsearch, the ELK stack gives you the ability to aggregate logs from all your systems and applications, analyze these logs, and create visualizations for application and infrastructure monitoring, faster troubleshooting, security analytics, and more.
E = Elasticsearch
Elasticsearch is a distributed search and analytics engine built on Apache Lucene. Support for various languages, high performance, and schema-free JSON documents makes Elasticsearch an ideal choice for various log analytics and search use cases. Learn more »
On January 21, 2021, Elastic NV announced that they would change their software licensing strategy and not release new versions of Elasticsearch and Kibana under the permissive Apache License, Version 2.0 (ALv2) license. Instead, new versions of the software will be offered under the Elastic license, with source code available under the Elastic License or SSPL. These licenses are not open source and do not offer users the same freedoms. For a secure, high-quality, fully open source search and analytics suite, you can use the OpenSearch project, a community-driven, ALv2 licensed fork of open source Elasticsearch and Kibana.
L = Logstash
Logstash is an open-source data ingestion tool that allows you to collect data from a variety of sources, transform it, and send it to your desired destination. With pre-built filters and support for over 200 plugins, Logstash allows users to easily ingest data regardless of the data source or type.
Logstash is a light-weight, open-source, server-side data processing pipeline that allows you to collect data from a variety of sources, transform it on the fly, and send it to your desired destination. It is most often used as a data pipeline for Elasticsearch, an open-source analytics and search engine. Because of its tight integration with Elasticsearch, powerful log processing capabilities, and over 200 pre-built open-source plugins that can help you easily index your data, Logstash is a popular choice for loading data into Elasticsearch.
Easily load unstructured data
Logstash allows you to easily ingest unstructured data from a variety of data sources including system logs, website logs, and application server logs.
Logstash offers pre-built filters, so you can readily transform common data types, index them in Elasticsearch, and start querying without having to build custom data transformation pipelines.
Flexible plugin architecture
With over 200 plugins already available on Github, it is likely that someone has already built the plugin you need to customize your data pipeline. But if none is available that suits your requirements, you can easily create one yourself.
K = Kibana
Kibana is a data visualization and exploration tool used for log and time-series analytics, application monitoring, and operational intelligence use cases. It offers powerful and easy-to-use features such as histograms, line graphs, pie charts, heat maps, and built-in geospatial support. Also, it provides tight integration with Elasticsearch, a popular analytics and search engine, which makes Kibana the default choice for visualizing data stored in Elasticsearch.
On January 21, 2021, Elastic NV announced that they would change their software licensing strategy and not release new versions of Elasticsearch and Kibana under the permissive Apache License, Version 2.0 (ALv2) license. Instead, new versions of the software will be offered under the Elastic license, with source code available under the Elastic License or SSPL. These licenses are not open source and do not offer users the same freedoms. To ensure that the open source community and our customers continue to have a secure, high-quality, fully open source search and analytics suite, we introduced the OpenSearch project, a community-driven, ALv2 licensed fork of open source Elasticsearch and Kibana. The OpenSearch suite consists of a search engine, OpenSearch, and a visualization and user interface, OpenSearch Dashboards.
You can run Apache 2.0 licensed Kibana versions (up until version 7.10.2) on-premises, on Amazon EC2, or on Amazon OpenSearch Service. OpenSearch Dashboards is an open source alternative to Kibana, which is also available to self-manage. It was derived from the last open source version of Kibana (7.10.2) and contains many advancements and is well supported via the OpenSearch Project. With on-premises or Amazon EC2 deployments, you are responsible for provisioning the infrastructure, installing Kibana or OpenSearch Dashboards software, and managing the infrastructure. With Amazon OpenSearch Service, Kibana or OpenSearch Dashboards are deployed automatically with your domain as a fully managed service, automatically taking care of all the heavy-lifting to manage the cluster.
Kibana offers intuitive charts and reports that you can use to interactively navigate through large amounts of log data. You can dynamically drag time windows, zoom in and out of specific data subsets, and drill down on reports to extract actionable insights from your data.
Kibana comes with powerful geospatial capabilities so you can seamlessly layer in geographical information on top of your data and visualize results on maps.
Pre-built aggregations and filters
Using Kibana’s pre-built aggregations and filters, you can run a variety of analytics like histograms, top-N queries, and trends with just a few clicks.
Easily accessible dashboards
You can easily set up dashboards and reports and share them with others. All you need is a browser to view and explore the data.
How does the ELK stack work?
Logstash ingests, transforms and sends the data to the right destination.
Elasticsearch indexes, analyzes, and searches the ingested data.
Kibana visualizes the results of the analysis.
Why is the ELK stack important?
The ELK Stack fulfills a need in the log analytics space. As more and more of your IT infrastructure move to public clouds, you need a log management and analytics solution to monitor this infrastructure as well as process any server logs, application logs, and clickstreams. The ELK stack provides a simple yet robust log analysis solution for your developers and DevOps engineers to gain valuable insights on failure diagnosis, application performance, and infrastructure monitoring – at a fraction of the price.
How can I choose the right solution for the ELK stack?
You can choose to deploy and manage the ELK stack yourself with Apache 2.0 licensed versions of Elasticsearch and Kibana (up until version 7.10.2) or self-manage an open source alternative to the ELK stack with OpenSearch, OpenSearch Dashboards, and Logstash. But, would you prefer that your developers or DevOps engineers spend time on building innovative applications or on managing operational tasks such as deployment, upgrades, software installation and patching, backups, and monitoring? Also, scaling up and down to meet your business requirements or achieving security and compliance is a challenge with the self-managed option.
What are AWS offerings for the ELK stack?
Amazon OpenSearch Service offers the latest versions of OpenSearch, support for 19 versions of Elasticsearch (1.5 to 7.10 versions), and visualization capabilities powered by OpenSearch Dashboards and Kibana (1.5 to 7.10 versions). The service integrates with Logstash as well as other AWS services such as Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, Amazon CloudWatch Logs, and AWS IoT to give you the flexibility to select the data ingestion tool that meets your use case requirements.
Next steps with AWS
Instantly get access to the AWS free tier.
Get started building with AWS hybrid cloud in the AWS Management Console.