Splunk® Enterprise

Installation Manual

Download manual as PDF

Splunk Enterprise version 6.x is no longer supported as of October 23, 2019. See the Splunk Software Support Policy for details. For information about upgrading to a supported version, see How to upgrade Splunk Enterprise.
This documentation does not apply to the most recent version of Splunk. Click here for the latest version.
Download topic as PDF

Components of a Splunk Enterprise deployment

By using a single software component and easy to understand configurations, Splunk Enterprise can coexist with existing infrastructure or be deployed as a universal platform for accessing IT data.

The simplest deployment is the one you get by default when you install Splunk Enterprise: indexing and searching on the same server. You log into Splunk Web or the CLI on the server and configure data inputs to collect machine data. You then use the same server to search, monitor, alert, and report on the incoming data.

Depending on your needs, you can also deploy components of Splunk on different servers to address your load and availability requirements. This section introduces the types of components. For a more thorough introduction, see the Distributed Deployment manual, particularly the topic, "Scale your deployment: Splunk components".


Splunk indexers provide indexing capability for local and remote data and host the primary Splunk data store. Refer to "How indexing works" in the Managing Indexers and Clusters manual for more information.

Search head

A search head is a Splunk Enterprise instance configured to distribute searches to indexers (referred to as "search peers" in this context). Search heads can be either dedicated or not, depending on whether they also perform indexing. Dedicated search heads don't have any indexes of their own (other than the usual internal indexes). Instead, they consolidate and display results that originate from remote search peers.

See "What is distributed search" in the Distributed Search Manual to configure a search head to search across a pool of indexers.


Forwarders are Splunk instances that forward data to remote indexers for indexing and storage. In most cases, they do not index data themselves. Refer to the "About forwarding and receiving" topic in the Forwarding Data manual.

Deployment server

A Splunk Enterprise instance can also serve as a deployment server. The deployment server is a tool for distributing configurations, apps, and content updates to groups of Splunk Enterprise instances. You can use it to distribute updates to most types of Splunk components: forwarders, non-clustered indexers, and search heads. Refer to "About deployment server and forwarder management" in the Updating Splunk Enterprise Instances manual for additional information.

Functions at a glance

Functions Indexer Search head Forwarder Deployment server
Indexing x
Web x
Direct search x
Forward to indexer x
Deploy configurations x x x

Index replication and clusters

A cluster is a group of indexers configured to replicate each others' data, so that the system keeps multiple copies of all data. This process is known as index replication. By maintaining multiple, identical copies of data, clusters prevent data loss while promoting data availability for searching.

Splunk Enterprise clusters feature automatic failover from one indexer to the next. This means that, if one or more indexers fail, incoming data continues to get indexed and indexed data continues to be searchable.

Besides enhancing data availability, clusters have other key features that you should consider when you're scaling a deployment. For example, they include a capability to coordinate configuration updates easily across all indexers in the cluster. They also include a built-in distributed search capability. For more information on clusters, see "About clusters and index replication" in the Managing Indexers and Clusters manual.

Last modified on 15 July, 2014
System requirements
Estimate your storage requirements

This documentation applies to the following versions of Splunk® Enterprise: 6.0, 6.0.1, 6.0.2, 6.0.3, 6.0.4, 6.0.5, 6.0.6, 6.0.7, 6.0.8, 6.0.9, 6.0.10, 6.0.11, 6.0.12, 6.0.13, 6.0.14, 6.0.15, 6.1, 6.1.1, 6.1.2, 6.1.3, 6.1.4, 6.1.5, 6.1.6, 6.1.7, 6.1.8, 6.1.9, 6.1.10, 6.1.11, 6.1.12, 6.1.13, 6.1.14

Was this documentation topic helpful?

Enter your email address, and someone from the documentation team will respond to you:

Please provide your comments here. Ask a question or make a suggestion.

You must be logged into splunk.com in order to post comments. Log in now.

Please try to keep this discussion focused on the content covered in this documentation topic. If you have a more general question about Splunk functionality or are experiencing a difficulty with Splunk, consider posting a question to Splunkbase Answers.

0 out of 1000 Characters