What is Elasticsearch? Beginner’s Guide

What is Elasticsearch? Beginner’s Guide

Every company needs quick access to data and analysis. There are many tools for data storage and retrieval.

Elasticsearch comes out on top because of its flexibility, scaling, and speed. You can execute complex queries extremely fast.

It allows you to get relevant data and create reports within seconds. In addition, billions of datasets can be indexed, searched, and analyzed.

Elasticsearch has a vast scope and can be applied to many use cases. It is not limited to full-text searches. Users can visualize and analyze data to make faster business decisions.

This article will look at what Elasticsearch is, how it works, and its benefits.

The Basics of Elasticsearch

The ELK Stack: Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana

Elasticsearch is an open-source, distributed search and analytics engine. It is based on the Apache Lucene library and written in Java. The platform was released in 2010 by Elastic.

It brings full-text search functionality to all types of data. The data can include textual, numerical, geospatial, structured, and unstructured.

You can store the data in schema-free JSON documents. In Elasticsearch, a document is a basic unit of information that is indexed.

Elasticsearch comes with an extensive RESTful API. It can store, search, and analyze vast volumes of data in near real-time. In addition, you can explore patterns and trends within the data.

The Elasticsearch is the central component of the Elastic Stack. The ELK Stack is made of Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana. These tools enrich data ingestion, storage, visualizing, and analysis.

Elastic Stack now includes a rich collection of lightweight shipping agents known as Beats for sending data to Elasticsearch.

For data visualizing, users opt for Kibana from the Elastic Stack. Kibana can visualize, share and manage data. It offers histograms, pie charts, and maps of your data in real-time.

Primary Use Cases of Elasticsearch

Elasticsearch Use Cases

  • Application and website search
  • Logging and log analytics
  • Enterprise search
  • Data analytics
  • Business analytics
  • Geospatial data analysis
  • Security analysis

How Elasticsearch Works

How Elasticsearch works

Unstructured data from various sources flows into Elasticsearch. The raw data is enriched by data ingestion. You can use ingestion tools such as Logstash.

Logstash is used to aggregate and process data before it is indexed. The data is then indexed and ready to run complex queries.

The Elasticsearch index is a collection of documents that are related or have similar traits. An inverted index is a data structure. It allows fast full-text searches and identifies every unique word that appears in the documents.

You can send data in JSON documents to Elasticsearch using API or ingestion tools. Elasticsearch stores the original document and adds a searchable reference to the document in the index. You can search the document using the Elasticsearch API.

Benefits of Elasticsearch

Benefits of Elasticsearch

High Performance

Elasticsearch provides fast and relevant matches for full-text searches. Distributed search indices help retrieve data within a second. It is faster than a typical SQL database that may take several seconds.

You can combine various kinds of searches, irrespective of data type. Get real-time search functionalities on large volumes of data. It also caches all the queries. So for every query that contains a cached filter, it searches from the cache.

The documents are also stored in proximity to the associated metadata in the index. Due to this, search result response is improved. Search for billions of records and log data in just a few seconds.

Easily Scalable

Elasticsearch is a distributed system by nature. You can scale to thousands of servers quickly. Add servers (nodes) to a cluster to increase capacity.

A node is either a physical or virtual server that stores data. A cluster is a collection of nodes.

You can add more capacity to the nodes and clusters. Growing from a small cluster to a large one is easy and automatic.

Elasticsearch is efficient on any machine. You can run it with a cluster containing several nodes. Scale with low latency and high availability.

Easy Application Development

Application development requires large volumes of data. Slow database querying and data retrieval are inefficient. Elasticsearch makes it easy to manage and store large datasets. It supports various languages such as Java, Python, PHP, JavaScript, Node.js, Ruby, and more.

You can create search and navigation for customers. Developers can correlate logs and metrics. It also minimizes lead time in finding critical performance issues. You can integrate the tool on your websites and web apps.

Distributed Approach

Elasticsearch works on a distributed architecture. As a result, it can handle vast amounts of data quickly. The indices are broken into shards. Shards work as a fully functional index. Each shard can have many replicas. You can host these shards anywhere in the Elasticsearch cluster.

Shards serve as the building blocks of the architecture. When new documents are added, routing and rebalancing operations are done automatically. Distributed architecture improves scaling and responsiveness. It also ensures redundancy. You can use it to protect against hardware failure and increase query capacity.

Lots of Search Options

Elasticsearch offers many features in search. You can get faceted search, full-text search, auto-complete, instant search, and more.

Autocompletion and instant search give suggestions while you type. The suggestions are predicted with search history or relevance. You can also get completely new searches.

Fuzzy search works for spelling errors. Users get relevant searches even if there is a spelling mistake.

Near Real-Time Operations

When a document is stored, it is indexed and searched in near real-time. You get responses to queries in less than one second. The documents are available immediately after indexing.

Elasticsearch also helps in use cases such as app monitoring and detection. It saves time and improves search speed. In addition, you can use it to get real-time analysis. It helps visualize data and produce reports fast.

Plugins and Integrations

Elasticsearch service is highly compatible with plugins and integrations. Plugins are used to enhance functionalities and customize searches. It helps you add custom mapping, analyzers, and discoveries.

There are plugins such as data recovery integrations, security, API extensions, and more. Elasticsearch also comes with tools such as Beats, Kibana, and Logstash.

Benefits of Elasticsearch


Companies already use Elasticsearch to improve their search capabilities. It is a powerful tool that can bring search and analytics to any data type. Sending data to Elasticsearch and data retrieval is managed within seconds.

It is highly scalable and reliable. You can search and analyze data in near real-time. You also get fine-tuned and relevant data.

You can also opt for managed services and Elasticsearch support. With integration tools, you can unify logs and metrics on a single stack.

You can extract new insights using Elasticsearch’s machine learning. It allows you to forecast trends and find anomalies easily. You can also use it for security and automated threat detection.

Elasticsearch is helpful to any company for easy data analysis. It is an evolving platform that offers high flexibility and performance. It has multiple applications and uses for enterprises. You can avail all the features to manage your data efficiently.

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Nikita S.
Nikita S.
Technical Writer

As a lead technical writer, Nikita S. is experienced in crafting well-researched articles that simplify complex information and promote technical communication. She is enthusiastic about cloud computing and holds a specialization in SEO and digital marketing.

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