Splunk® Enterprise

Splunk Enterprise Overview

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About Splunk Enterprise deployments

Splunk Enterprise indexes data from the servers, applications, databases, network devices, and virtual machines that make up your IT infrastructure. As long as the machine that generates the data is a part of your network, Splunk Enterprise can collect the data from anywhere, whether the data is local, remote, or in the cloud.

Splunk Enterprise performs three main functions as it processes data:

  1. It ingests data from files, the network, or other sources.
  2. It parses and indexes the data.
  3. It runs searches on the indexed data.

Types of deployments

Depending on your needs, you can deploy Splunk Enterprise as a single instance, or you can create deployments that span multiple instances, ranging from just a few to hundreds or even thousands of instances.

Single-instance deployments

In small deployments, one instance of Splunk Enterprise handles all aspects of processing data, from input through indexing to search. A single-instance deployment can be useful for testing and evaluation purposes and might serve the needs of department-sized environments.

Distributed deployments

To support larger environments where data originates on many machines, where you need to process large volumes of data, or where many users need to search the data, you can scale the deployment by distributing Splunk Enterprise instances across multiple machines. This is known as a "distributed deployment".

In a typical distributed deployment, each Splunk Enterprise instance performs a specialized task and resides on one of three processing tiers corresponding to the main processing functions:

  • Data input tier
  • Indexing tier
  • Search management tier

You can, for example, create a deployment with many instances that reside on the data input tier and only ingest data, several other instances that reside on the indexing tier and index the data, and one instance that resides on the search management tier and manages searches. These specialized instances are known as "components".

Splunk Enterprise components and processing tiers

This table lists the processing components and the tiers that they occupy. It also describes the functions that each component performs.

Component Tier Description
Forwarder Data input A forwarder consumes data and then forwards the data onwards, usually to an indexer. Forwarders usually require minimal resources, allowing them to reside lightly on the machine generating the data.
Indexer Indexing An indexer indexes incoming data that it usually receives from a group of forwarders. The indexer transforms the data into events and stores the events in an index. The indexer also searches the indexed data in response to search requests from a search head.


To ensure high data availability and protect against data loss, or just to simplify the management of multiple indexers, you can deploy multiple indexers in indexer clusters.

Search head Search management A search head interacts with users, directs search requests to a set of indexers, and merges the results back to the user.


To ensure high availability and simplify horizontal scaling, you can deploy multiple search heads in search head clusters.

You can add components to each tier as necessary to support greater demands on that tier. For example, if you have a large number of users, you can add extra search heads to better service the users.

Example of a distributed deployment

This diagram illustrates the type of deployment that might support the needs of a small enterprise.

This diagram shows an example of a small enterprise deployment. In this diagram, 100 to 200 forwarders consume data and forward it on to 2 to 3 indexers. The indexer stores the data into a single search head, which supports less than 100 users.

For more information about components and how to deploy them to scale Splunk Enterprise, see the Distributed Deployment Manual.

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This documentation applies to the following versions of Splunk® Enterprise: 6.3.0, 6.3.1, 6.3.2, 6.3.3, 6.3.4, 6.3.5, 6.3.6, 6.3.7, 6.3.8, 6.3.9, 6.3.10, 6.3.11, 6.3.12, 6.3.13, 6.3.14, 6.4.0, 6.4.1, 6.4.2, 6.4.3, 6.4.4, 6.4.5, 6.4.6, 6.4.7, 6.4.8, 6.4.9, 6.4.10, 6.4.11, 6.5.0, 6.5.1, 6.5.1612 (Splunk Cloud only), 6.5.2, 6.5.3, 6.5.4, 6.5.5, 6.5.6, 6.5.7, 6.5.8, 6.5.9, 6.5.10, 6.6.0, 6.6.1, 6.6.2, 6.6.3, 6.6.4, 6.6.5, 6.6.6, 6.6.7, 6.6.8, 6.6.9, 6.6.10, 6.6.11, 6.6.12, 7.0.0, 7.0.1, 7.0.2, 7.0.3, 7.0.4, 7.0.5, 7.0.6, 7.0.7, 7.0.8, 7.0.9, 7.0.10, 7.1.0, 7.1.1, 7.1.2, 7.1.3, 7.1.4, 7.1.5, 7.1.6, 7.1.7, 7.1.8, 7.2.0, 7.2.1, 7.2.2, 7.2.3, 7.2.4, 7.2.5, 7.2.6, 7.3.0


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