When organisations come to us wanting to set up a security information event management (SIEM), they often have two options in mind: Microsoft Sentinel, formerly known as Azure Sentinel, or Splunk. Whilst the two solutions do have some similarities, they differ in a variety of ways, which we’ll explore in this article.
We will look at integrations, SIEM functionality, cost-effectiveness, analytics, threat intelligence, and much more. As well as looking at functionality and the details of each solution, we will discuss how each solution may be better for certain organisations as well as our recommendations when it comes to installing a SIEM or security orchestration and automated response (SOAR) solution.
What is Microsoft Sentinel?
Sentinel is Microsoft’s SIEM solution. Built almost entirely on the cloud, it combines state-of-the-art SIEM and SOAR functionality into one piece of software.
Microsoft has focused on utilising advanced machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) technology to improve Sentinel’s ability to detect and mitigate threats. Due to this, it’s capable of responding to threats in ways that other SIEM solutions can’t.
We will cover the benefits and more details about Microsoft Sentinel in a later section. In short, though, Sentinel is a SIEM and SOAR solution with advanced analytics, AI, data collection, threat intelligence, and threat mitigation.
As an organisation, it allows detection, investigation, and resolution of cyber security threats, as well as providing detailed alerts and information for your security team.
What is Splunk?
Splunk is a SIEM designed for enterprise-level organisations and includes features such as security analytics, threat investigation and response, automation, and orchestration.
Whilst it does feature SOAR capabilities, this does rely on utilising other products within the Splunk security cloud. If organisations go down this route, they can add in further DevOps and IT solutions, but this does greatly increase the price of Splunk.
As with Microsoft Sentinel, we will cover the benefits of Splunk later in this article. To summarise, though, Splunk is a security and SIEM platform, with some SOAR functionality, that enables security teams to detect, investigate, and mitigate cyber threats.
What are the advantages of Microsoft Sentinel?
First and foremost, Microsoft Sentinel is an incredibly powerful SIEM and SOAR solution due to the resources and customer support services of Microsoft. Their constant research and development in both the solution and the cyber security industry enable Sentinel to feature cutting edge threat intelligence on even the newest cyber threats.
Any organisation that utilises existing Microsoft products, especially Microsoft Azure, will have a simple time setting up Sentinel. It fully integrates with all Microsoft Azure products and wider Microsoft products, making it easy to gather the data you need to protect your business.
Microsoft Sentinel is also fully scalable, making it a great solution for both large enterprises and SMEs. The pricing structure of Sentinel reflects this as well, with customers paying per gigabyte of data they use. This means that you only pay for what you use.
Sentinel also integrates with a host of third-party software, applications, and other internet services. This allows security teams to gather data from anywhere they need to, providing a total view of an organisation’s internet traffic and allowing for an amazing level of protection.
Compared to Microsoft, Splunk is a much smaller company. Whilst this does have downsides, their customer service and general approach are much more direct and personalised than Microsoft. For many security teams, this kind of approach can be helpful when dealing with problems or requiring support.
Splunk is also dedicated to improving the platform and tends to have a faster development cycle than Microsoft. With that being said, the underlying technology isn’t as robust as Microsoft’s or anywhere near as well-integrated. Customers that require many different integrations will probably be better served with another SIEM.
Rather than being a pay per gigabyte pricing model, Splunk utilises a flat rate through a variety of different price plans. This gives organisations a simple, monthly cost, but can lead to paying for more than you need.
It’s generally accepted, though, that Splunk is a well-consolidated, supported platform that has a vast amount of great functionality. It’s flexible and adaptable for differing security team and organisational needs, is user friendly, and has powerful data collection and representation features.
Which solution should you choose?
Whilst each system has its advantages, for many businesses Microsoft Sentinel will be the better option. This isn’t always the case, but Sentinel is easier to set up, learn, use, and administrate. This makes the job of your security team easier and more efficient.
It also has the edge when it comes to integration, with more being done on Sentinel to provide third-party integration support. It also integrates seamlessly with Microsoft products, which many organisations already use.
Whilst Sentinel, and Microsoft products in general, might not have the same level of customer support, this can be remedied by outsourcing day-to-day management of your Microsoft Sentinel environment to a cyber security specialist, such as Wizard Cyber.
Sentinel also exceeds Splunk when it comes to network management, incident management and response, and the quality of security intelligence it provides. Splunk can be superior in some areas but for pure SIEM and/or SOAR purposes, Sentinel has the edge in functionality.
Splunk also relies on knowledge of query language which can cause problems for security teams that don’t have this expertise. Learning this language is a barrier that would require extra training and budget for many organisations.
Ultimately, every organisation is different. We are speaking in general terms here when we recommend Microsoft Sentinel. Splunk has advantages for some organisations but simply can’t compete with Sentinel in terms of technological and functional power.
If you are interested in finding out more about how Microsoft Sentinel can benefit your business, get in touch with us today. Our cyber security experts will be happy to walk you through Sentinel and give you a full demonstration.