What is Elasticsearch?

Elasticsearch is a distributed, open source search and analytics engine for all types of data, including textual, numerical, geospatial, structured, and unstructured. Elasticsearch is built on Apache Lucene and was first released in 2010 by Elasticsearch N.V. (now known as Elastic). Known for its simple REST APIs, distributed nature, speed, and scalability, Elasticsearch is the central component of the Elastic Stack, a set of open source tools for data ingestion, enrichment, storage, analysis, and visualization. Commonly referred to as the ELK Stack (after Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana), the Elastic Stack now includes a rich collection of lightweight shipping agents known as Beats for sending data to Elasticsearch.

What is Elasticsearch used for?

The speed and scalability of Elasticsearch and its ability to index many types of content mean that it can be used for a number of use cases:

  • Application search
  • Website search
  • Enterprise search
  • Logging and log analytics
  • Infrastructure metrics and container monitoring
  • Application performance monitoring
  • Geospatial data analysis and visualization
  • Security analytics
  • Business analytics

How does Elasticsearch work?

Raw data flows into Elasticsearch from a variety of sources, including logs, system metrics, and web applications. Data ingestion is the process by which this raw data is parsed, normalized, and enriched before it is indexed in Elasticsearch. Once indexed in Elasticsearch, users can run complex queries against their data and use aggregations to retrieve complex summaries of their data. From Kibana, users can create powerful visualizations of their data, share dashboards, and manage the Elastic Stack.

What is an Elasticsearch index?

An Elasticsearch index is a collection of documents that are related to each other. Elasticsearch stores data as JSON documents. Each document correlates a set of keys (names of fields or properties) with their corresponding values (strings, numbers, Booleans, dates, arrays of values, geolocations, or other types of data).

Elasticsearch uses a data structure called an inverted index, which is designed to allow very fast full-text searches. An inverted index lists every unique word that appears in any document and identifies all of the documents each word occurs in.

During the indexing process, Elasticsearch stores documents and builds an inverted index to make the document data searchable in near real-time. Indexing is initiated with the index API, through which you can add or update a JSON document in a specific index.

What is Logstash used for?

Logstash, one of the core products of the Elastic Stack, is used to aggregate and process data and send it to Elasticsearch. Logstash is an open source, server-side data processing pipeline that enables you to ingest data from multiple sources simultaneously and enrich and transform it before it is indexed into Elasticsearch.

What is Kibana used for?

Kibana is a data visualization and management tool for Elasticsearch that provides real-time histograms, line graphs, pie charts, and maps. Kibana also includes advanced applications such as Canvas, which allows users to create custom dynamic infographics based on their data, and Elastic Maps for visualizing geospatial data.

Why use Elasticsearch?

Elasticsearch is fast. Because Elasticsearch is built on top of Lucene, it excels at full-text search. Elasticsearch is also a near real-time search platform, meaning the latency from the time a document is indexed until it becomes searchable is very short — typically one second. As a result, Elasticsearch is well suited for time-sensitive use cases such as security analytics and infrastructure monitoring.

Elasticsearch is distributed by nature. The documents stored in Elasticsearch are distributed across different containers known as shards, which are duplicated to provide redundant copies of the data in case of hardware failure. The distributed nature of Elasticsearch allows it to scale out to hundreds (or even thousands) of servers and handle petabytes of data.

Elasticsearch comes with a wide set of features. In addition to its speed, scalability, and resiliency, Elasticsearch has a number of powerful built-in features that make storing and searching data even more efficient, such as data rollups and index lifecycle management.

The Elastic Stack simplifies data ingest, visualization, and reporting. Integration with Beats and Logstash makes it easy to process data before indexing into Elasticsearch. And Kibana provides real-time visualization of Elasticsearch data as well as UIs for quickly accessing application performance monitoring (APM), logs, and infrastructure metrics data.

Elasticsearch FAQs

Is Elasticsearch free?

Yes, the open source features of Elasticsearch are free to use under the Apache 2 license. Additional free features are available under the Elastic license, and paid subscriptions provide access to support as well as advanced features such as alerting and machine learning.

What is the official distribution of Elasticsearch?

The official distribution of Elasticsearch is available on the Elastic website.

Who can contribute to the Elasticsearch project?

Elasticsearch is an open source project managed by Elastic. The code base includes contributions from developers both inside and outside of Elastic.

Anyone can submit a pull request in the Elasticsearch GitHub repository. Elastic conducts a transparent review of all pull requests before merging them into the code base.

What are the options for deploying Elasticsearch?

Elasticsearch can be deployed as a hosted, managed service through Elasticsearch Service (available on Amazon Web Services (AWS), Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and Alibaba Cloud), or you can download and install it on your own hardware or in the cloud. The Elasticsearch documentation provides instructions for downloading, installing, and configuring Elasticsearch.

For users who want to provision, manage, and monitor their deployments from a single console but prefer not to use a public cloud platform, Elastic also offers Elastic Cloud Enterprise (which can be deployed on public or private clouds, virtual machines, or bare metal hardware) as well as a Private subscription tier.

What programming languages does Elasticsearch support?

Elasticsearch supports a variety of languages and official clients are available for:

  • Java
  • JavaScript (Node.js)
  • Go
  • .NET (C#)
  • PHP
  • Perl
  • Python
  • Ruby

What text languages does Elasticsearch support?

Elasticsearch supports 34 text languages, from Arabic to Thai, and provides analyzers for each. The full list can be found in the Elasticsearch Language Analyzer documentation. Support for additional languages can be added with custom plugins.

Does Elasticsearch Provide REST APIs?

Yes, Elasticsearch provides a comprehensive and powerful set of REST APIs for performing tasks such as checking cluster health, performing CRUD (Create, Read, Update, and Delete) and search operations against indices, and executing advanced search operations such as filtering and aggregations.