What query language is Splunk?

Posted by Marta on March 19, 2023 Viewed 761 times

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Splunk is a software platform that allows organizations to collect, index, and analyze machine-generated data in real-time.

It provides a powerful search and analytics engine that allows users to quickly. And it easily extracts insights from large and complex data sets.

One of the key features of Splunk is its query language, which is used to search and analyze data stored in Splunk.

SPL – Splunk Processing Language

The Splunk query language, also known as SPL (Splunk Processing Language), is a proprietary language developed by Splunk specifically for searching and analyzing machine-generated data.

SPL is designed to be flexible and easy to use, allowing users to quickly construct complex queries and extract insights from their data.

SPL syntax is similar to other programming languages, with commands and functions used to manipulate data and perform calculations.

Does Splunk use SQL?

While SPL is a proprietary language and not based on SQL, it does share some similarities with SQL. Both languages are used to search and analyze data, and both use a query-based approach to extract insights from large and complex data sets. However, there are also some key differences between the two languages.

One of the main differences between SPL and SQL is the way they handle data. SQL is designed for structured data, such as data stored in a relational database. Whereas SPL is designed for unstructured data, such as log files, network traffic, or other machine-generated data.

SPL provides a wide range of functions and commands that are specifically designed to work with unstructured data. This variety of functions and commands makes it a powerful tool for analyzing and extracting insights from machine-generated data.

Another difference between SPL and SQL is the way they handle queries. SQL uses a declarative approach to queries. Meaning that users specify what data they want to retrieve and let the database management system figure out how to retrieve it. In contrast, SPL uses a procedural approach to queries. Procedural means that users specify a series of steps or commands to manipulate the data and extract insights.

Despite these differences, SPL and SQL share some similarities. As a result, users familiar with SQL may find it relatively easy to learn SPL.

Splunk also provides tools that allow users to connect to external databases and query them using SQL, making it possible to use SQL and SPL together in a single Splunk application.

Is Splunk SQL or NoSQL?

Splunk is not a traditional SQL or NoSQL database. Rather, it is a software platform designed for collecting, indexing, and analyzing machine-generated data in real-time.

Splunk uses its own proprietary data format, which is optimized for handling unstructured and semi-structured data. For instance, it can handle log files, network traffic, or other machine-generated data.

While Splunk is not a traditional SQL or NoSQL database, it does provide a powerful search and analytics engine that allows users to quickly and easily extract insights from large and complex data sets.

Splunk provides its own query language, known as SPL (Splunk Processing Language), which is used to search and analyze data stored in Splunk.

SPL is similar to SQL in some ways, but it is specifically designed to work with unstructured and semi-structured data. SPL provides a wide range of functions and commands. Besides it can be used to perform a wide range of tasks, including data filtering, aggregation, correlation, and visualization.

What are the basics of Splunk query?

The Splunk query language provides a powerful toolset for searching and analyzing machine-generated data in Splunk.

Below we will see some example of SPL commands. Here is the web_log index file you will refer to in the below example, which contain log events:

timestamp=2022-03-10T12:35:42.000Z clientip=192.168.1.100 method=GET status_code=200 referer=https://www.google.com
timestamp=2022-03-10T12:37:21.000Z clientip=192.168.1.200 method=POST status_code=404 referer=https://www.yahoo.com
timestamp=2022-03-10T12:41:03.000Z clientip=192.168.1.150 method=GET status_code=200 referer=https://www.google.com

Each log event represents a web request made to a server. It contains information such as the timestamp of the request, the client IP address, the HTTP method used, the HTTP status code returned, and the referer URL.

Here are the some basics of SPL queries and examples to illustrate each:

Search command

The search command is the starting point for any SPL query. It tells Splunk which data to search and how to filter it. The basic syntax for a search command is:

search <search expression>

Example

Here’s an example of a complete SPL search command:

search index=web_logs status_code=404 | stats count by clientip, referer | sort -count

This command searches the “web_logs” index for events with a “status_code” field of 404. It then uses the “stats” command to count the number of events grouped by the “clientip” and “referer” fields. Finally, it uses the “sort” command to sort the results in descending order by the count.

In summary, this command is useful for identifying the top clients and referring pages that are generating 404 errors on a web server.

Fields command

Splunk uses fields to categorize and analyze data. Fields can be extracted from the raw data or generated by Splunk during indexing.

Fields can be referenced by name in SPL commands to perform operations such as filtering, grouping, or aggregation. The basic syntax for referencing a field in a search command is:

<fieldname>=<fieldvalue>

Example

Here’s an example of a SPL fields command, this command usually goes after the search command:

index=web_logs | fields clientip, method, referer

This command searches the “web_logs” index and extracts the values of the “clientip”, “method”, and “referer” fields for each event.

This command is useful for quickly extracting specific fields from a large dataset in Splunk. Consequently using fields, users can reduce the amount of data they need to process and focus on the information that’s most relevant to their analysis.

Filters command

Filters are used to narrow down the search results based on specific criteria. Therefore filters help to limit the search results to a specific time range, to specific events, or to specific fields. The basic syntax for a filter is:

<fieldname>=<fieldvalue>

Example

Here’s an example of a SPL filters command:

index=web_logs status_code=200 | where referer="https://www.google.com"

This command searches the “web_logs” index for events where the “status_code” field is 200. And then filters the results to only include events where the “referer” field matches “https://www.google.com“.

This command is useful for identifying web traffic that originated from Google. By using the “where” command to filter the results, users can quickly identify which pages on their website are attracting visitors from Google and use this information to optimize their SEO strategies.

Boolean operators

Boolean operators are used to combine multiple search expressions or filters. The basic boolean operators in SPL are “AND”, “OR”, and “NOT”.

Example

Here’s an example of how to use boolean operators in a SPL command:

index=web_logs (method=GET OR method=POST) status_code=200 NOT referer="https://www.yahoo.com"

This command searches the “web_logs” index for events where the HTTP method is either “GET” or “POST”, the status code is 200, and the referer URL is not “https://www.yahoo.com“.

this command is useful for identifying successful web requests made with either the “GET” or “POST” HTTP method, excluding those that were referred from “https://www.yahoo.com“. The boolean operators “OR” and “NOT” are used to refine the search results based on multiple criteria.

Commands

SPL provides a wide range of commands that can be used to manipulate and analyze data. Commands can be used to perform operations such as filtering, grouping, aggregation, charting, and more. Some common SPL commands include “eval”, “stats”, “chart”, “timechart”, and “top”.

Example

Here’s an example of a SPL command using eval:

index=web_logs | eval response_time = response_time_seconds * 1000 | table clientip, method, response_time | sort - response_time | head 10

First, this command searches the “web_logs” index and calculates the response time of each request in milliseconds using the eval command. Then it displays a table of the top 10 requests with the longest response times, sorted in descending order.

This command is useful for identifying the slowest web requests made to a server and can help identify potential performance issues. The eval command is used to manipulate the search results by creating a new field and performing a calculation on existing fields.

Output command

Finally, SPL provides various options for displaying the search results, including table, chart, and raw output. The basic syntax for outputting search results is:

<command> | <output command>

Example

Here’s an example of how to use the SPL output command:

index=web_logs status_code=404 | stats count by clientip, uri | outputcsv 404_errors_by_client.csv

This command searches the “web_logs” index for events with a status code of 404, and then groups the results by the clientip and uri fields using the stats command. Finally, it outputs the search results to a CSV file called “404_errors_by_client.csv” using the outputcsv command.

this command is useful for identifying which clients are generating the most 404 errors on a web server. Lastly, the outputcsv command is used to export the search results to a file for further analysis outside of Splunk.

These are the basic building blocks of SPL query. By combining these elements, users can construct complex queries to extract insights from their data in Splunk.

Conclusion

In conclusion, the Splunk query language (SPL) is a powerful tool for searching and analyzing machine-generated data. While SPL is not based on SQL, it does share some similarities with SQL and users familiar with SQL may find it relatively easy to learn. SPL is designed specifically for unstructured data, making it a powerful tool for analyzing and extracting insights from machine-generated data.

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