BlogElastic{On} Anaheim – Event Recap and Thoughts

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After the intensive 2-day “ES-1” Elastic Search Engineer 1 training, we headed over to the House of Blues in Anaheim for Elastic{On}.  My first impression? There were a LOT of people there.  I believe they had 400-500 attending, some of whom I recognized from the earlier class. Almost everyone in attendance was an end-user, with a range of customers from Tinder, to various startups, to government organizations like the U.S. Navy.

All of the panel discussions were delivered in the main theater area and were well-attended. We learned that version 7 of the Elastic Stack will be incorporating advanced GIS and GPS data processing, including support for grids, geographic shapes, and advanced distance-based searches. We also saw a demo of Canvas, a pixel-perfect reporting tool that allows Kibana to generate reports, presentations and PDFs similar to more traditional data reporting tools such as Crystal Reports. There is also a SQL-emulator that lets many legacy tools access Elastic data as if it were in an Oracle or similar data source.

Another popular area was the “AMA” or “Ask Me Anything” room. Elastic had brought in support personnel, developers, and product managers, and would literally answer any question customers and partners had, including features in development. Very few vendors are this open with their product roadmap and in talking about limitations.

Takeaways from Elastic{On}

This product is hot and gaining traction! They are marketing a “3-legged stool” strategy, with Enterprise Site Search (which they already own), Security and Log Data (which they are rapidly overtaking most other solutions in) and Enterprise Business Intelligence (where they are just starting to make an impact). The Artificial Intelligence and advanced security features of their licensed products make Elastic a viable solution for all of these areas with a low barrier to entry in terms of deployment time and cost.

About the Training

The ES-1 class is pretty fast-paced and assumes a general familiarity with Linux and some experience with ES. Studying up on JSON data format syntax is also helpful.  A few notes:

  1. They have rolled up a LOT of plug-ins and functionality into the core 6.x product.  This is in addition to their acquisitions.
  2. The actual plumbing and behind-the-scenes work to set up ES is pretty intuitive and straightforward. There are only a couple of configuration files, and the rest of the interactions with ES are in the form of HTTP requests, entered either via curl at the CLI or a nice, interactive console supplied with Kibana. This is sort of like using the “SQL+” command from conventional databases.
  3. ES is gaining massive traction, and they have positioned themselves along the “Fast, Accurate, Big” triangle for data processing as the “Fast and Big” option. For contrast, SQL databases like Oracle would be considered “Fast, Accurate” options that don’t handle big data well and Hadoop is “Accurate and Big” but slow to deploy and potentially slow to deliver results.
  4. Most of the magic in ES happens is in crafting searches and aggregations. This is the meat of the class. Troubleshooting, best practices and similar are covered but seem to occupy much less scope than a typical DBA class would require.

I’m definitely looking forward to the next Elastic{On} event and what ES brings to the table next. I would also suggest you read Dustin Smith’s latest blog – Understanding and Adding Value to the Elastic Stack. ASG has developed custom enhancements to Elastic’s offerings, including our exclusive data center automation solution: AVA (Advanced Vector Automation).

About the Author

John Norman

John Norman, Systems Consultant

An active member of the Southern California information security community, John Norman has accumulated over 16 years of experience and cross-platform certified training with the industry’s leading storage, server, networking, and security technologies. As a consulting engineer at ASG, John has a proven track record of designing superior, customer-focused IT solutions with an emphasis on IT security.