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When it comes to security information and event management (SIEM) for businesses of all sizes, IBM QRadar and Splunk Enterprise Security are two of the biggest names in the market. And don’t just take our word for it: Both QRadar and Splunk received top rankings in the 2021 Gartner Magic Quadrant for SIEM for the completeness of their vision and their ability to execute. We’re comparing QRadar and Splunk in four essential categories: deployment, user friendliness, threat analysis and reporting, and integrations.

QRadar vs. Splunk: Deployment

Configuration and deployment are often the most complex steps for implementing any SIEM tool. To make it easier to get things up and running, QRadar offers a large selection of templates that covers a wide variety of use cases. This means that admins do not have to start from scratch when implementing QRadar, which shortens the learning curve and helps your company launch the SIEM faster.

Unfortunately, the lack of out-of-the-box template content is one of the main pain points that users note for Splunk. Both configuration and deployment are more complex for this product and present a steep learning curve. It takes a while to set up the dashboard and get the SIEM up and running. If you are already familiar with Splunk Enterprise, that will help shorten your learning curve, but it’s still more complex to deploy than QRadar and offers fewer up-front templates.

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QRadar vs. Splunk: User friendliness

While QRadar is easier to set up and deploy, it’s not as user friendly once you get it up and running. Like many other enterprise software products, the user interface for QRadar can feel a bit outdated and is not as intuitive as some of the other offerings on the market. Users say that the modules often feel cobbled together from different products instead of presenting a consistent look and feel, which detracts from the user experience.

Splunk makes up for its more difficult deployment with a user interface that is easy to navigate and understand. Users praise the self-explanatory navigation and the appealing graphics and layout, which are easy even for those without as much SIEM or technical experience to navigate. When it comes to user friendliness and user interface after the setup period, Splunk gets higher marks in this category.

QRadar vs. Splunk: Threat analysis and reporting

QRadar taps IBM Watson for its threat identification and analysis, which is a big differentiator for this software and a huge draw for many potential customers. Watson harnesses the power of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to automate and analyze various aspects of the SIEM, including repetitive security operations center (SOC) threats. While the analysis is powerful, users do say that it is difficult to customize the resulting reports and wish that the editing features were less limited.

Obviously, Splunk lacks IBM Watson, but it does offer its own slate of threat intelligence and analysis features. The Splunk Enterprise Security platform provides event and data collection, search, and visualizations. Splunk User Behavior Analytics (UBA) leverages machine learning to analyze the data and provides insights via easy-to-navigate reports, while Splunk Phantom provides Security Orchestration, Automation, and Response capabilities. Even more capabilities are available through various other Splunk solutions, too many to delve into here; check the Splunk website to see all they have to offer.

QRadar vs. Splunk: Integrations

As is to be expected, QRadar works well with other IBM software products; they are all designed to complement one another since many large enterprises prefer to consolidate their software providers for simplicity’s sake. However, available integrations with products outside of the IBM stack are limited, so if you already have another software product that you were hoping to integrate with QRadar, definitely look into that before making a decision.

Splunk offers more integrations than QRadar and works well with a wide range of software products and services made by other companies. The integrations do vary by each Splunk product (the company splits its security and observability offerings into different solutions so you can mix and match according to your needs). Just because one solution integrates with a particular software or service doesn’t mean another Splunk offering will, so check the fine print on the exact Splunk solutions you are considering.

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QRadar vs. Splunk: Which SIEM tool should you choose?

QRadar and Splunk each has its own strengths and weaknesses. QRadar is easier to deploy and touts the power of IBM Watson, but falls short when it comes to user friendliness as well as available integrations. If you already use a lot of IBM’s enterprise software offerings, it may be worth taking a look at QRadar since it will definitely integrate well with that stack. Meanwhile, Splunk is more difficult to deploy but offers better user interface and more integrations, so if you use software products from lots of companies, Splunk may be a better bet.

As for the pricing, both QRadar and Splunk calculate the cost differently based on metrics and data, respectively, so it’s hard to do a direct comparison without knowing your specific company needs. Users note that prices for both services are high compared to competitors, so if you are looking for a more cost-effective option, it may be worth widening your search to include other SIEM tools.

There are many other SIEM software options beyond just QRadar and Splunk, so you’re not limited to either of these two solutions.