What Is Splunk? A Beginners Guide To Understanding Splunk

You must be aware of the exponential growth of machine data over the last decade. It was partly because of the growing number of machines in the IT infrastructure and partly because of the increased use of IoT devices. This machine data has a lot of valuable information that can drive efficiency, productivity and visibility for the business. Splunk was founded in 2003 for one purpose: To Make Sense Of Machine Generated Log Data.

In this blog, I have answered two common questions Non-Splunkers ask me:

  • Why do we need to use Splunk?
  • How does it purge my problem?

Need For Splunk: The Machine Data Challenge

Look at the below image to get an idea of how machine data looks.

Machine Generated Data

Now imagine if you were a SysAdmin trying to figure out what went wrong in your system’s hardware and you stumble upon logs like the one’s in the above image, what would you possibly do? Would you be able to locate in which step your hardware failed you? There is a remote chance that you might be able to figure it out, but even that is only after spending hours in understanding what each word means. To tell you in a nutshell, machine data is:

  • Complex to understand
  • In an unstructured format
  • Not suitable for making analysis / visualization

This is where a tool like Splunk comes in handy. You can feed the machine data to Splunk, which will do the dirty work (data processing) for you. Once it processes and extracts the relevant data, you will be able to easily locate where and what the problems were.

Splunk started off this way, but it became more prominent with the onset of Big Data. Since Splunk can store and process large amounts of data, data analysts like myself started feeding big data to Splunk for analysis. Dashboards meant for visualization was a revelation and within no time Splunk was extensively used in the big data domain for analytics.

What is Splunk?

Splunk is a software platform to search, analyze and visualize the machine-generated data gathered from the websites, applications, sensors, devices etc. which make up your IT infrastructure and business.

If you have a machine which is generating data continuously and you want to analyze the machine state in real time, then how will you do it? Can you do it with the help of Splunk? Yes! You can. The image below will help you relate to how Splunk collects data.

Real time processing is Splunk’s biggest selling point because, we have seen storage devices get better and better over the years, we have seen processors become more efficient with every ageing day, but not data movement. This technique has not improved and this is the bottleneck in most of the processes within organizations.

If you already think Splunk is an awesome tool, then hear me out when I say that this is just the tip of the iceberg. You can be rest assured that the remainder of this blog post will keep you glued to your seat if you have an intention to provide your business the best solution, be it for system monitoring or for data analysis.

The other benefits with implementing Splunk are:

  • Your input data can be in any format for e.g. .csv, or json or other formats
  • You can configure Splunk to give Alerts / Events notification at the onset of a machine state
  • You can accurately predict the resources needed for scaling up the infrastructure
  • You can create knowledge objects for Operational Intelligence

For those of you who don’t know what is a knowledge object, it is a user-defined entity using which you can enrich your existing data by extracting some valuable information. These Knowledge objects can be saved searches, event types, lookups, reports, alerts or many more which helps in setting up intelligence to your systems.

The infographic below mentions some of the functionalities for which Splunk can be used.

Splunk Features

To give you more clarity on how Splunk works, I am going to tell you how Bosch used Splunk for data analytics. They collected the healthcare data from the remotely located patients using IoT devices (sensors). Splunk would process this data and any abnormal activity would be reported to the doctor and patient via the patient interface. Splunk helped them achieve the following:

  • Reporting health conditions in real time
  • Delve deeper into the patient’s health record and analyze patterns
  • Alarms / Alerts to both the doctor and patient when the patient’s health degrades

I urge you to see this Splunk video tutorial that explains the basics of Splunk, how it works, working architecture and much more. Go ahead, enjoy the video and tell me what you think.

What is Splunk | Splunk Tutorial for Beginners | Edureka

This Splunk tutorial will help you understand what is Splunk, benefits of using Splunk, Splunk vs ELK vs Sumo Logic, Splunk architecture — Splunk Forwarder, Indexer and Search Head with the help of Dominos use case.

Now that you have an understanding of Splunk and its relevance in the Big Data industry, learn Splunk and build a career in the analytics domain. Check out Edureka’s Splunk certification training here, which comes with instructor-led live training and real-life project experience.

Learn Splunk From Experts

To know how Splunk fares against ELK and SumoLogic, please read my next blog on Splunk vs. ELK vs. SumoLogic here.

Download Free Splunk E-Book

Originally published at www.edureka.co on October 25, 2016.