Graylog vs. Splunk: A side-by-side comparison for 2024

Zach McDaniel
Updated on March 20, 2024

Graylog and Splunk are both very well-known tools in the website monitoring space. They are both regarded as solid choices, but which one is better? Aside from Graylog being open-source and Splunk being cloud-based, are there really any differences?

If you’re trying to decide between Graylog vs. Splunk, you’ve come to the right place. We’ve closely examined both tools and compared them side-by-side below.

The tools are compared based on the following criteria:

  1. Platform features overview
  2. Deployment options
  3. Platform functionality
  4. Scalability and performance
  5. UI & UX
  6. Incident management
  7. Pricing

1. Platform features overview

Feature Graylog Splunk
Open-source functionality ✔✔ X
Infrastructure monitoring ✔✔ ✔✔
Log management ✔✔ ✔✔
Open-telemetry support X ✔✔
APM ✔✔ ✔✔
Incident management ✔ (Centralized log management with security analytics can indirectly help reduce incident response time) ✔✔
Status pages X ✔✔
On-call management X ✔✔
RUM X ✔✔
Cloud SIEM X ✔✔
Cloud SOAR X ✔✔
Onboarding platform ✔✔ ✔✔
SLA monitoring ✔✔ ✔✔
SAML SSO ✔ (Graylog web interface needs to be integrated with Azure AD for SSO) ✔✔
User-based access ✔✔ ✔✔
SOC TYPE II compliance X ✔✔
HIPAA-compliant log management X ✔✔
FedRAMP X ✔✔

✓ - partial or limited feature

✓✓ - feature is present

X - the platform does not offer this feature

2. Deployment options

Both Graylog and Splunk offer a SaaS option for their services. The biggest difference between the two services is price and functionality, but we’ll get into that in more detail in the sections below.

The biggest differences in the deployment options between Graylog and Splunk lie in their open-source and on-premise options.

Graylog is well known for its open-source capabilities, being one of the best options for distributed engineering teams that want free access to source code for users to modify and distribute, fostering collaboration and transparency. They also offer an on-premise solution, allowing users to deploy and operate locally, within their infrastructure.

Splunk, on the other hand, only offers an on-premise solution in parallel to their SaaS. This is a big plus for those looking for the functionality and capabilities of a tool like Splunk, but it does not give you the freedom to control the source code, giving Graylog the upper hand.

Winner: Graylog

3. Platform functionality

Comparing the functionality of Graylog and Splunk is a little like comparing apples to tangerines. They are similar in the sense that they are fruits (monitoring platforms), but they have a lot of things that set them apart, too.

With that in mind, you have to consider the fact that Graylog is mostly open-source. It is highly, highly customizable, and can do whatever you want it to do as long as you point it in the right direction and have the right extensions and plugins. The open-source tool provides you with the core centralized log management functionality you need to collect, store, and analyze incoming log data, which means that the only limiting factor is going to be the user.

However, when you look at a tool like Splunk, it offers a lot more than just log management. While Graylog does offer some SaaS solutions like cloud-based log management, security, and API security, Splunk takes it even a step further by mixing in synthetic monitoring, real user monitoring, APM, SOAR, SIEM, and more.


Winner: Splunk

4. Scalability and performance

Both Graylog and Splunk are highly scalable and perform extremely well. That said, they both have some limitations that you should be aware of.

Graylog is highly scalable and can handle large volumes of log data. It supports distributed architectures for horizontal scaling either on-premises or in the cloud. When you consider that Graylog also offers an open-source solution, it’s as scalable as you need it to be.

Splunk is also scalable and can handle large-scale deployments. However, its licensing model based on data volume can make it costly to scale, especially for organizations with high ingest rates.

Winner: Graylog

5. UI and UX

When comparing the UI and UX between Graylog and Splunk, there are two different schools of thought: design and customization

The design of Graylog is focused on simplicity and ease of use. The dashboard provides a centralized view of log data, search queries, and visualizations, making it easy for users to navigate and analyze logs. You can customize your dashboards through plugins and extensions, allowing you to further extend the platform’s functionality with additional features and capabilities. But, it does rely on third-party intervention.


Splunk, on the other hand, offers advanced visualization options and a wide range of customization settings, but the UI may appear cluttered or overwhelming for some users. It offers extensive customization options for creating custom dashboards, reports, and visualizations. It also has a rich ecosystem of apps, add-ons, and integrations available on Splunkbase, allowing users to extend Splunk's functionality with pre-built solutions.


Winner: Splunk

6. Incident management

Graylog provides incident management capabilities through its alerting features. Users can create alerts based on predefined conditions, such as specific log messages, thresholds, or patterns. Graylog can notify users via email, Slack, or other notification channels when an alert is triggered. Graylog also supports integration with incident response tools and ticketing systems for managing and tracking incidents.


Graylog's alerting engine allows users to define alert conditions using search queries, aggregation functions, and threshold settings. Users can create alerts for specific log events, anomalies, or trends detected within log data. It supports flexible alerting configurations, including time-based conditions, event correlations, and deduplication settings. Alerts can be configured to trigger notifications, execute actions, or escalate to other systems for further analysis or response.

Splunk offers incident management capabilities through its alerting and workflow automation features. Users can create alerts based on search queries, correlation searches, or real-time monitoring criteria. Splunk's alerting system supports advanced actions such as triggering scripts, executing commands, or creating tickets in ITSM platforms. Splunk also provides workflow automation tools for orchestrating incident response processes and automating remediation actions.


Splunk's alerting system offers similar capabilities to Graylog, allowing users to create alerts based on search queries, field values, or statistical functions. Splunk supports real-time alerting, scheduled alerts, and threshold-based alerts for detecting anomalies or events of interest. Users can define alert actions such as sending emails, running scripts, or triggering webhook notifications. Splunk also provides advanced alerting features such as adaptive thresholding, predictive analytics, and anomaly detection for proactive incident detection.

Winner: Splunk

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7. Pricing

Price is perhaps the biggest deciding factor in software, and it’s for good reason. A tool can check every single box that you have, but if it doesn’t fit into the budget, it will still fall short.

Graylog offers a free, open-source option that can be utilized by anyone with the capability to deploy it. However, “free” doesn’t necessarily mean that it won’t cost you anything. Oftentimes, with open-source tools, the cost of management and maintenance costs more than a cloud-based solution.

Graylog also offers a cloud-based solution that provides more features and enterprise-grade support. Depending on your needs, these prices can be somewhat customized, but expect to pay a minimum of $1250/month for Graylog Operations, $1550/month for Graylog Security, and $1500/month for Graylog API Security.

Splunk does not offer any sort of open-source or free solution, and its pricing options are a little more complex. They can be broken down as follows:

  • End-to-End: $75 per host per month
  • App & Infra: $60 per host per month
  • APM: $55 per host per month
  • Infrastructure: $15 per host per month
  • RUM: $14 per 10,000 sessions
  • Synthetics: $1 per 10,000 uptime requests
  • On-call: $5 per user per month

Wrapping up

Graylog and Splunk are both very powerful tools with a lot of similarities. They offer a lot in terms of observability and security, but their approaches are slightly different.

Graylog is a great option if you’re looking for an open-source solution specifically. Still, it also offers an enterprise solution that can be deployed both in the cloud and on-premise. If you’re going for the open-source option, be warned that it can be extremely expensive to host the solution yourself.

This isn’t to say that Splunk isn’t also expensive, but it does seem to be a more complete, out-of-the-box solution. It is extremely powerful and is by far the better option if you’re looking for an enterprise solution. Just keep in mind that the higher the ingestion rates, the more you pay.

Here’s one last side-by-side comparison

Graylog Splunk
Platform features While Graylog offers a lot in terms of observability and performance, it does not currently hold any certificates on data compliance. However, it can be integrated with platforms that do Not only does Splunk blow Graylog out of the water as far as features go, but it holds GDPR, CCPA, SOC Type II, and HIPAA compliance certification
Deployment options Graylog has open-source (free), on-premise, and cloud-based deployment options Splunk only offers cloud-based and on-premise deployment options
Platform functionality Graylog is used mostly for log ingestion and data visualization Splunk offers a huge variety of observability options including SIEM, SOAR, Synthetics, RUM, and more.
Scalability and performance Graylog is extremely easy to scale so long as you have the right plugins and extensions. The only limitation is your capabilities Splunk is equally as scalable, but it's licensing cost per GB can make it very costly to scale
UI and UX Graylog’s UI and UX are designed to be very simple and clean. It can be customized to offer more advanced visualizations, but it requires third-party intervention Splunk offers a lot more in terms of visualizations of advanced data and can be customized even further without the help of third-party tools
Incident management Graylog offers incident management via its alerting features. It’s not a main function of Graylog, so it does require a little more hoop-jumping Splunk’s incident management is built-in through its workflow automation feature, making it feel like more of a complete feature
Pricing Graylog offers a free, open-source option, but it also offers a paid, enterprise-level solution, too. That said, you can expect to pay a minimum of $1250 to utilize even just one product Splunk’s pricing is a little more digestible and easier to manage at smaller scales. All prices are based on data usage but can get expensive when the ingestion rate is high.

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