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The ELK Stack is a collection of three open-source projects, Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. They operate together to centralize and examine logs and other types of machine-generated data in real time. With the ELK stack, you can utilize clusters for effective log and event data analysis and other uses. ELK clusters can provide significant benefits to your organization, but the configuration of these clusters can be particularly challenging, as there are a lot of aspects to consider. So, to support you with this in this article we will begin by outlining what an ELK cluster is, why you should configure an ELK cluster, and how to effectively configure an ELK cluster.

What is an ELK Cluster?

An ELK cluster is a group of one or more ELK nodes that operate together to store and index data, as well as to offer search and analytics capabilities. Elasticsearch clusters are often utilized for numerous use cases including log and event data analysis, full-text search, and real-time analytics. The architecture of an ELK cluster entails the integration of the three components of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana to centralize logging, process data, and offer visualization capabilities. This architecture enables nodes in the ELK cluster to communicate with each other to coordinate activities, share metadata, and maintain cluster health. Elasticsearch uses a distributed coordination mechanism to manage cluster membership, handle node discovery, and distribute cluster-wide operations. ELK clusters can scale horizontally by adding more nodes to manage increasing data volumes and search traffic, making them suitable for large-scale deployments in enterprise environments.


Why Configure an ELK Cluster?

By configuring an ELK cluster you can unlock numerous advantages and enhance your visibility into your systems. Firstly, ELK clusters enable your organization to consolidate logs and other machine-generated data from multiple sources, such as applications, servers, network devices, and security appliances, into a single platform.

In addition to this, ELK clusters are specially designed to enable horizontal scaling, meaning additional resources can be inputted by adding more nodes to manage growing data volumes and search traffic effectively. Elasticsearch's distributed architecture, ensures high performance and fault tolerance, allowing your organization to meet the demands of your applications and users.

Lastly, ELK clusters can be utilized for extensive system monitoring and alerting. By collecting and examining metrics, logs, and events from across the infrastructure, your organization can highlight performance bottlenecks, identify anomalies, and proactively address issues before they impact users or business operations. Also, this analysis can be made simpler and more effective with dashboards and data visualizations. Kibana offers a user-friendly interface for visualizing and exploring data stored in Elasticsearch. This allows your organizations to design custom dashboards, charts, and graphs to track system metrics, monitor application performance, analyze security events, and visualize business KPIs.

How to Configure an ELK Cluster

This tutorial will guide you through the process of configuring nodes and an ELK cluster.

  • Requirements: Guarantee that your servers meet the hardware and software requirements for operating Elasticsearch and prepare a network where all nodes can communicate with each other over TCP/IP.

  • Install Elasticsearch: Download the Elasticsearch package suitable for your operating system from the Elastic website. Then, install Elasticsearch on each node by following the installation instructions supplied for your specific operating system. Repeat this step for all nodes that you want to include in your Elasticsearch cluster. A simple solution for this step is to use a hosted ELK service like

  • Configure Elasticsearch: Navigate to the Elasticsearch configuration directory (usually located at /etc/elasticsearch) and open the elasticsearch.yml configuration file in a text editor. Configure the following settings:

    • Set the name of your Elasticsearch cluster.
    • Assign a unique name to each node in the cluster.
    • Set the network interface that Elasticsearch should bind to (e.g., for binding to all network interfaces).
    • discovery.seed_hosts: Specify a list of initial seed hosts (IP addresses or hostnames) that Elasticsearch will use for discovery in the cluster.
    • cluster.initial_master_nodes: Set this option to specify the initial master-eligible nodes in the cluster.
    • Also, you have the option to configure other settings such as memory limits, JVM options, and data paths according to your requirements.
    • Save and close the configuration file.
  • Start Elasticsearch: Start Elasticsearch on each node using the appropriate commands for your operating system. For example:

    • On Linux: sudo systemctl start elasticsearch
    • On Windows: .\bin\elasticsearch.exe (from the Elasticsearch installation directory)
    • Check the Elasticsearch logs for any errors or warnings that may occur during startup (/var/log/elasticsearch on Linux).
  • Verify Cluster Formation: Once Elasticsearch is running on all nodes, monitor the logs to ensure that each node successfully joins the cluster. You can use the following command to check the cluster health and node membership:

Verify that the cluster status is green and that all nodes are listed as part of the cluster.

  • Cluster Scaling and Maintenance: To scale the cluster, repeat steps 2-4 to add more nodes as needed. Perform regular maintenance tasks such as monitoring cluster health, adjusting settings, and applying updates to keep the cluster running smoothly.

By following these steps, you can install and configure Elasticsearch nodes to form a cluster. Elasticsearch will automatically handle tasks such as data distribution, shard allocation, and node discovery, enabling you to focus on managing and maintaining your cluster effectively.

Hosted ELK

Now that you’ve understood the importance of ELK clusters and how to configure them, you may be looking for an ELK solution. However, management of the infrastructure and the time-consuming deployment process can be a significant drawback. Therefore, you should opt for an ELK as a service solution, like the one provided by With managed ELK from the infrastructure is managed by us, including provisioning, scaling, monitoring, and maintenance tasks. This removes the burden of managing infrastructure from your team, enabling them to focus on other strategic initiatives.

In addition to this our solution offers a simplified deployment process, removing the need for manual setup and configuration. This lessens the complexity and time required to get started with ELK, especially for organizations lacking the expertise or resources to deploy and manage ELK clusters independently.

Lastly, provides scalable infrastructure resources that can automatically adjust to manage changes in workload demand. This enables you to scale your cluster up or down easily without worrying about capacity planning or provisioning additional resources. If you’re interested in finding out more about Hosted ELK, don’t hesitate to book a free demo, or begin exploring the platform for yourself with a 14-day free trial.

If you've enjoyed this article why not read The Best ELK Dashboard Examples or our Complete Guide to ELK next?

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