ELK Logstash Review

It is quite comprehensive and you're able to do a lot of tasks

What is our primary use case?

It is currently deployed as a single instance, but we are currently looking at clusters. We are using it for a logging solution. I'm a developer and act as a server engineer for DevOps Engineers. It's used by developers and mobile developers. It could be used by quite a few different teams.

How has it helped my organization?

It is quite comprehensive, and you're able to do a lot of tasks. It has dashboards and we're able to create a lot of search queries. It is not easy to use, but once you get the hang of it, then it provides good graphs and visuals such as these. The indexes allow you to get your results quickly. The filtering and log passing is the advantage of Logstash.

What is most valuable?

In terms of query resolution, error searching finding and production issues, we're able to find issues quicker. We don't need to manually obtain the logging reports. All bugs in code are quickly identified in the logs as they are in one centralized logging location.

What needs improvement?

We're using the open-source edition, for now, I think maybe they can allow their OLED plugin to be open source, as at the moment it is commercialised. We are planning to go into the production to use the enterprise edition, we just wanted to check how this one works first.  I think maybe on the last exercise part, I think the index rotation can be improved. It's something that they need to work on. It can be complex on how the index, all the logs that have been ingested, the index rotation can be challenging, so if they can work on that. In terms of ingestion, I think they should look at incorporating all operating systems. It should be easy to collect logs from different sources without a workaround to push the logs into the system. For example, in AIX, there's no direct log shipper so you do need to do a bit of tweaking there.

For how long have I used the solution?

We have been using ELK Logstash for three years or so. We believe we are using the latest version. 

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

The solution is quite stable, although it does need a bit of maintenance, and because there is quite a lot of plugins that come with it. There's a lot of testing that is involved to ensure that nothing breaks.

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

The solution is scalable. So you're able to extend it and grow it. For example, you're able to put it in a cluster, so it is quite scalable.

How are customer service and technical support?

I have used the technical support. Their forums are quite good in terms of response. There is quite a big community of forums, where you can get similar question or issues that others have experienced issues previously. Even then direct support is quite good. They also have regional support. 

Which solution did I use previously and why did I switch?

Logging solution previously, but mainly I've been using Graylog and ELK. Graylog gives you centralized logging. It's built for a logging solution, whereas ELK is designed and built for more big data. If you want to go in deeper into analytics, ELK gives you that flexibility and out of the box models. The two solutions are widely used by a lot of bigger clients in the industry and they've been tried and tested.

How was the initial setup?

With ELK, installation is not really straightforward. There are about three applications to consider. It's quite intense in terms of set up, but once you've done the setup, then it's nice and smooth. The implementation took about 3 weeks, but that is because I was doing it in between other projects. We used an implementation plan. It was deployed to the development environment, then the Point of Concept (POC) environments. It was then deployed into the production environment.

What about the implementation team?

We implemented the solution in-house. There were no third parties involved. For deployment and maintenance, we just need about two to three people and the role is known as maintenance and installation.

What's my experience with pricing, setup cost, and licensing?

We're using the open-source solution, So there are no-cost implications on it, but we are planning to use it throughout the organization. So, we will soon adopt the open-source model and depending on if there is a need for enterprise then we'll go down the enterprise route. If you need a lasting solution, you do need to buy the license for the OLED plugin. The free version comes fully standard and has everything that you need. It is easy to deploy, easy to use, and you get everything you need to become operational with it, and have nothing further to pay unless you want the OLED plugin. 

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We also have Graylog, for Graylog we're using it in parallel for a similar solution. At the moment, we're basically just comparing the two and see which one is preferred.

What other advice do I have?

Do a POC first. They should compare solutions and also look at different log formats they're trying to ingest. See how it really fits with the use case. This goes for ELK and Graylog. You can trial the enterprise version. In terms of lessons learned it does need some time and resources. It also needs adequate planning. You need to follow the documentation clearly and properly. I would give this solution 8 out of 10. 

Which deployment model are you using for this solution?

**Disclosure: I am a real user, and this review is based on my own experience and opinions.
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