Datadog and Splunk both cover a lot of ground as application performance monitoring (APM) tools. Both offer broad monitoring and in-depth data analytics. Buyers looking for a high quality performance monitoring platform will likely find both on their list of strong candidates.
However, there are as many differences as similarities between these two solutions. In sum, they’re very different products that will appeal to buyers with different goals in mind. Here’s a look at both, how they compare, and their ideal use cases.
Datadog vs. Splunk: Key Feature Comparison
The Splunk platform enables searching, network monitoring, and analyzing a vast amount of IT data to identify data patterns, provide metrics, diagnose problems and aid in business and IT decision making.
To understand the scope of Splunk: Security Information & Event Management (SIEM) can be considered just one small part of its feature arsenal. Beyond security, it takes in APM, compliance, automation, orchestration, forensics, as well as plenty of features related to IT service management (ITSM) and IT operations management (ITOM)
Datadog is focused more on cloud monitoring and security. It offers the ability to see inside any stack or application at any scale and anywhere. Infrastructure monitoring, APM, log management, device monitoring, cloud workload monitoring, and database monitoring are all included within its feature set. As you can see, there are certainly big areas of overlap. But Datadog stops short of calling itself a complete SIEM, ITSM or ITOM platform.
Delving deeper into both tools, the best way to differentiate them is how they operate. The Splunk application takes more of a log management approach, which makes it ideal for managing and monitoring the large amount of data generated from the devices running on the network. Datadog, on the other hand, takes more of a monitoring approach geared toward analytics. Thus, Datadog tends to be favored by DevOps and IT teams to address cloud and infrastructure performance.
While Splunk presents itself as a complete platform to handle everything related to SIEM, security and ITOM, Datadog is happy to cater to a smaller subset of the market. In fact, it is very willing to integrate with other security and IT management tools, whereas Splunk wants to be king of the mountain.
The existing stack of security and management tools, therefore, should be considered before deciding between Splunk and Datadog. Those with outdated tools that are in need of a complete overhaul should probably gravitate to Splunk due to its much wider feature set. Those needing only APM and some analytics, should favor Datadog and upgrade other toolsets in parallel.
Another way to differentiate them is by looking at what you want to address. Speaking broadly, Datadog monitors the performance of servers, databases, and infrastructure. Splunk is more focused on monitoring and analyzing data generated from various machines, converting it so that it can be analyzed by developers. Thus, Splunk is great for analyzing the huge number of log files generated by enterprise systems. It eliminates the need for IT to spend hours trawling through all the logs looking for that performance needle in the IT haystack. It makes use of the search processing language to find terms present in log files. Datadog, in contrast, is probably better when it comes to dealing with the performance and visibility of multiple cloud providers operating on the network and in managing cloud services.
A big strength of Splunk and a key differentiator is its ability to integrate data streams from a huge number of sources. It supports a wide range of data formats, like.xml, .csv and .json file. Those with needs that require such data stream integration from multiple data formats should opt for Splunk, as Datadog offers little support in this regard.
That said, users of Datadog are going to get up and running far faster than Splunk. Due to the size and complexity of Splunk, it requires a higher level of skilled internal resources as well as vendor support to deploy and operate. Datadog installation and commissioning are straightforward. And it is far easier to customize dashboards and interfaces using Datadog than Splunk. Datadog seems to have the philosophy that we will adjust to whatever way you do things, whereas Splunk is more geared toward providing access to a large amount of monitoring data if you agree to follow its methodology.
Datadog vs. Splunk: Management
Splunk’s wide range of products and features are aggregated within the Splunk Observability Suite. The platform can be used to analyze, ingest, and store data for later use, as well as detect issues impacting customers. Overall, it offers a breadth of management that Datadog doesn’t attempt to rival.
Those wishing to manage all security information and events (SIEM) or all IT operations (ITOM) or all IT services (ITSM) will find Splunk far more complete than Datadog. Overall, Splunk encompasses far more of the IT landscape than Datadog. Splunk’s comprehensive approach certainly advantages for those companies that select it. For example, Splunk offers a wealth of real-time visualization and analysis features that Datadog cannot compete with. If real-time management and monitoring are vital, then this issues is a no contest.
However, while Splunk wins hands down on breadth of management, Datadog comes out ahead on depth – at least across a limited feature set. Purely within APM and cloud services, Datadog offers better drill down and general management capabilities. Further, it is better at managing itself. Whereas Splunk relies on IT to notice and troubleshoot issues related to Splunk, Datadog generates alerts about potential or actual problems within itself and helps IT to identify the underlying issues.
Datadog vs. Splunk: Pricing
It is well known that Splunk isn’t a low-cost option. Once it ascended to become the darling of SIEM and ITSM a few years ago, it set its prices accordingly. The various modules within Splunk also have a reputation for being expensive.
Further, upselling can send the budget much higher i.e., if you want the SIEM module. If you need performance monitoring, that adds in an APM module, and slowly other modules creep in and the price tag rises. This is normal enough in IT. But when you are already dealing with a pricey platform, it is important to determine what you really need and what you can dispense with.
For example, Splunk offers a wealth of real-time visualization and analysis features that Datadog does not. If real-time management and monitoring are vital, then Splunk is the clear choice. But it does come at a price.
Real-time monitoring sounds great, but not everyone needs it enough for to pay this price premium. Datadog skips real-time and is quite a bit cheaper than its big rival. As for deployment, and support, Datadog also comes out well ahead in terms of keeping costs down. Splunk implementation and support costs can escalate as the software is rolled out.
Datadog vs. Splunk: Conclusion
Splunk and Datadog are both excellent tools designed to solve a great many challenges related to security and performance monitoring. You can’t go wrong too far wrong with either one. Both are strong in APM. In fact, both are regarded as leaders in the latest Gartner APM Magic Quadrant. Both also offer a lot of advanced features for your money that go far beyond APM. And both are trailblazers when it comes to innovation and future roadmaps.
In reality, though, it isn’t a case of one versus the other so much as it is a case of determining what you really need. Datadog is all about performance measurement for cloud services and is particularly adept at measuring the performance of databases and servers and measuring performance in a multi-cloud world. It doesn’t attempt to embrace the entire SIEM, ITOM, ITSM spectrum. Rather it takes one slice and does that portion really well. Those that have already deployed plenty of tools for security and IT management, therefore, may gravitate more toward Datadog to supplement ongoing efforts.
Splunk, however, is a much broader platform and toolset geared for a heavy duty large enterprise. Its log management approach often proves invaluable in rapidly analyzing log files and making sense of mountains of data so that IT knows what is going on. Whether it’s a performance slowdown or a security incursion, Splunk is a good way to stay one step ahead of trouble. Those needing an all-encompassing security and IT management platform, therefore, will find Splunk closer to their needs. Additionally, those with aging applications that are ready for a major management makeover will find Splunk a good fit. It covers a large amount of ground – if you have the budget for it.