Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of Elasticsearch and Redis so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how Elasticsearch and Redis perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
Elasticsearch vs Redis Breakdown
Distributed search and analytics engine, document-oriented
Elasticsearch is built on top of Apache Lucene and uses a RESTful API for communication. It stores data in a flexible JSON document format, and the data is automatically indexed for fast search and retrieval. Elasticsearch can be deployed as a single node, in a cluster configuration, or as a managed cloud service (Elastic Cloud)
Redis can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or as a managed service
Full-text search, log and event data analysis, real-time application monitoring, analytics
Caching, message brokering, real-time analytics, session storage, geospatial data processing
Horizontally scalable with support for data sharding, replication, and distributed querying
Horizontally scalable via partitioning and clustering, supports data replication
Elasticsearch is an open-source distributed search and analytics engine built on top of Apache Lucene. It was first released in 2010 and has since become popular for its scalability, near real-time search capabilities, and ease of use. Elasticsearch is designed to handle a wide variety of data types, including structured, unstructured, and time-based data. It is often used in conjunction with other tools from the Elastic Stack, such as Logstash for data ingestion and Kibana for data visualization.
Redis, which stands for Remote Dictionary Server, is an open-source, in-memory data structure store that can be used as a database, cache, and message broker. It was created by Salvatore Sanfilippo in 2009 and has since gained significant popularity due to its high performance and flexibility. Redis supports various data structures, such as strings, hashes, lists, sets, sorted sets with range queries, bitmaps, hyperloglogs, and geospatial indexes with radius queries.
Elasticsearch for Time Series Data
Elasticsearch can be used for time series data storage and analysis, thanks to its distributed architecture, near real-time search capabilities, and support for aggregations. However, it might not be as optimized for time series data as dedicated time series databases. Despite this, Elasticsearch is widely used for log and event data storage and analysis which can be considered time series data.
Redis for Time Series Data
Redis has a dedicated module for working with time series data called RedisTimeSeries. RedisTimeSeries offers functionality like downsampling, data retention policies, and specialized queries for time series data in Redis. Being an in-memory database, Redis will be very fast for reading and writing time series data, but due to the cost of RAM compared to disk using Redis could become expensive depending on the size of your dataset. If your use case doesn’t require extremely fast response times, you could save money by going with a more traditional time series database.
Elasticsearch Key Concepts
- Inverted Index: A data structure used by Elasticsearch to enable fast and efficient full-text searches.
- Cluster: A group of Elasticsearch nodes that work together to distribute data and processing tasks.
- Shard: A partition of an Elasticsearch index that allows data to be distributed across multiple nodes for improved performance and fault tolerance.
Redis Key Concepts
- In-memory store: Redis stores data in memory, which allows for faster data access and manipulation compared to disk-based databases .
- Data structures: Redis supports a wide range of data structures, including strings, hashes, lists, sets, and more, which provide flexibility in how data is modeled and stored.
- Persistence: Redis offers optional data persistence, allowing data to be periodically saved to disk or written to a log for durability.
- Pub/Sub: Redis provides a publish/subscribe messaging system, enabling real-time communication between clients without the need for a centralized message broker.
Elasticsearch is a distributed, RESTful search and analytics engine that uses a schema-free JSON document data model. It is built on top of Apache Lucene and provides a high-level API for indexing, searching, and analyzing data. Elasticsearch’s architecture is designed to be horizontally scalable, with data distributed across multiple nodes in a cluster. Data is indexed using inverted indices, which enable fast and efficient full-text searches.
Redis is a NoSQL database that uses a key-value data model, where each key is associated with a value stored as one of Redis’ supported data structures. The database is single-threaded, which simplifies its internal architecture and reduces contention. Redis can be deployed as a standalone server, a cluster, or a master-replica setup for scalability and high availability. The Redis Cluster mode automatically shards data across multiple nodes, providing data partitioning and fault tolerance.
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Elasticsearch provides powerful full-text search capabilities with support for complex queries, scoring, and relevance ranking.
Elasticsearch’s distributed architecture enables horizontal scalability, allowing it to handle large volumes of data and high query loads.
Elasticsearch supports various aggregation operations, such as sum, average, and percentiles, which are useful for analyzing and summarizing data.
Redis supports atomic operations on complex data types, allowing developers to perform powerful operations without worrying about race conditions or other concurrent processing issues.
Broad data structure support
Redis supports a range of data structures such as lists, sets, sorted sets, hashes, bitmaps, hyperloglog, and geospatial indexes. This flexibility allows developers to use Redis for a wide variety of tasks by using data structures that are optimized for their data in terms of performance characteristics.
Redis provides a publish/subscribe messaging system for real-time communication between clients.
Developers can run Lua scripts in the Redis server, enabling complex operations to be executed atomically in the server itself, reducing network round trips.
Elasticsearch Use Cases
Log and Event Data Analysis
Elasticsearch is widely used for storing and analyzing log and event data, such as web server logs, application logs, and network events, to help identify patterns, troubleshoot issues, and monitor system performance.
Elasticsearch is a popular choice for implementing full-text search functionality in applications, websites, and content management systems due to its powerful search capabilities and flexible data model.
Elasticsearch, in combination with other Elastic Stack components, can be used for security analytics, such as monitoring network traffic, detecting anomalies, and identifying potential threats.
Redis Use Cases
Redis is often used as a cache to store frequently accessed data and reduce the load on other databases or services, improving application performance and reducing latency.
Redis can be used to implement task queues, which are useful for managing tasks that take longer to process and should be executed asynchronously. This is particularly common in web applications, where background tasks can be processed independently of the request/response cycle
Real-time analysis and machine learning
Redis’ high performance and low-latency data access make it suitable for real-time analysis and machine learning applications, such as processing streaming data, media streaming, and handling time-series data. This can be achieved using Redis’ data structures and capabilities like sorted sets, timestamps, and pub/sub messaging.
Elasticsearch Pricing Model
Elasticsearch is open-source software and can be self-hosted without any licensing fees. However, operational costs, such as hardware, hosting, and maintenance, should be considered. Elasticsearch also offers a managed cloud service called Elastic Cloud, which provides various pricing tiers based on factors like storage, computing resources, and support. Elastic Cloud includes additional features and tools, such as Kibana, machine learning, and security features.
Redis Pricing Model
Redis is open-source software, which means it can be deployed and used freely on your own infrastructure. However, there are also managed Redis services available, such as Redis Enterprise which offer additional features, support, and ease of deployment. Pricing for these services typically depends on factors like the size of the instance, data storage, and data transfer.
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