Splunk Review

The most valuable feature is its centralized log analytics


What is our primary use case?

The primary use case is for log analytics. Although, we have been using it as a hammer which hits all the nails. We have sort of overused it in some areas where it doesn't need to be used.

How has it helped my organization?

We have a one stop dashboard for health of some of our services where you can click in and it takes you to other dashboards that have custom near real-time metrics that show the application's health. From there, you can drill in to see the real deep dive example of what is happening in your environment. It has reduced our time to resolve incidents. 

What is most valuable?

The most valuable feature is its centralized log analytics.

What needs improvement?

The historical data extraction needs improvement. I would like the capability of taking data and having it trend longer. Splunk is good about viewing data within the last seven or 14 days, but if you want to see a year-over-year trend, you have to do a lot of work to get to that point. If there was a better way to extract the data point and put it into a long-term viewing ability for a year-over-year analysis, then compare that to your other business metrics. That is what I am looking for, as an example, for a call center you want to see the time it takes for your customer to be handled on their need comparatively to the system performance that is happening, then overlay that data. 

For how long have I used the solution?

Three to five years.

What do I think about the stability of the solution?

We put a lot of trust in it. It has been pretty rock-solid outside of a couple of changes that we made. Upgrades sometimes don't always go smoothly, but otherwise the system performs, and operates. 

What do I think about the scalability of the solution?

When we were trying to implement an enterprise solution on-premise, we had scaling issues. It was very difficult to search the data retention beyond a few days. A lot of talent was given to the ability to go into AWS and scale with our need. We still had to do some administrative things to prevent consumers from trying to search all records for all time in very inefficient searches. This could sometimes bring our core system functionality to a halt, so we had to do some user administration in it.

How is customer service and technical support?

I don't engage with the support directly. Another member of my team does. Any time that we have needed support, he hasn't had an issue opening a ticket and receiving the help that he needs.

How was the initial setup?

The integration and configuration in the AWS environment was pretty good. They have a consumption method for pretty much every service. They might be able to do a little better at advertising different patterns for best practices for different service, but overall there's a method to get everything.

What was our ROI?

We have had a reduction in the time it takes to resolve issues and correlate what has failed. This has significantly helped.

Which other solutions did I evaluate?

We looked at the Elk Stack, Kibana, and Sumo Logic.

We chose Splunk because their cost is better, the maintenance factor is a little higher, and the core functionality is higher than what other products provide. The core functionality is out-of-the-box. E.g., with a Toyota Scion, you can customize the parts to make it whatever you want, but it's a lot of work to get there. Where if you buy a Cadillac, you pay the Cadillac's price, but it's a Cadillac. It will work right out-of-the-box.

What other advice do I have?

It works well when searching logs. If you looked to try to do things beyond this, the problem that we ran into is that we treated it as the hammer which hits all nails. That is not really feasible, and there are other tools out there that can do more specialized things.

User administration is key. Trying to prevent users from being able search records all the time is a huge problem. You need a tight approval process on dashboards, making sure the dashboards are queried in the most efficient way possible. 

The on-premise version that we had was not scalable at all. It was very difficult to use. We have EC2 instances in the cloud with Splunk installed, which is more scalable and easier to use. It now works much better.

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