Getting started with the ELK Stack on Scalingo

The Elastic Stack (formerly known as the ELK Stack) is a powerful collection of softwares that lets you collect data from any source using any format. It gives you the tools to search, visualize and analyze it in real time.

This tutorial will show you how to deploy the ELK stack on Scalingo in under 5 minutes.

What is the ELK Stack?

The ELK stack is based on three major components:

  • Elasticsearch
  • Logstash
  • Kibana

Elasticsearch is a distributed full-text search engine, able to store JSON document and index them efficiently, it is responsible for the storage of all the incoming data.

Logstash is a data processing pipeline, any source sends data as input. It is able to format and modify data on the fly before forwarding it to the chosen destination (usually an Elasticsearch database).

Kibana is a powerful web-based data visualization tool providing everything you need to explore your data and build useful and efficient dashboards.


Let’s start by bootstrapping the Logstash container. This instance will take data from an authenticated input and send them to an Elasticsearch database. This is the EL part in ELK.

To get started, you can use our boilerplate:

$ git clone
$ cd logstash-boilerplate

Next, create an application on Scalingo that will run our Logstash app:

$ scalingo create my-awesome-logstash --buildpack

Add the Elasticsearch addon to this application:

$ scalingo --app my-awesome-logstash addons-add scalingo-elasticsearch elasticsearch-starter-1024

All the Elasticsearch plans are described here.

Of course, not everyone should be able to send data to your Logstash instance, it should be protected via HTTP basic auth. It is already handled in the boilerplate but the environment variables USER and PASSWORD should be set first:

$ scalingo --app my-awesome-logstash env-set USER=my-awesome-logstash-user PASSWORD=iloveunicorns

Edit the logstash.conf file to change the index name of the Elasticsearch output. The goal is to make it fit semantically to the data which will be stored:

output {
  elasticsearch {
    # OLD
    index => "change-me-%{+YYYY.MM.dd}"
    # NEW
    index => "unicorns-%{+YYYY.MM.dd}"

Commit your changes

$ git add logstash.conf
$ git commit -m "Update the index name"

And you’re all set, git push scalingo master and your Logstash instance will be up and running!

You can now try to send some data to your Logstash instance:

$ curl --request POST '' --data 'Hi!'

It’s time to verify all the indices that are stored in the Elasticsearch database:

$ scalingo --app my-awesome-logstash run bash

yellow open unicorns-2018.01.26 _0XNpJKzQc2kjhTyxf4DnQ 5 1 1 0 6.6kb 6.6kb

Logstash has created the unicorn index which can now be requested:

> curl $SCALINGO_ELASTICSEARCH_URL/unicorns-2018.01.26/_search | json_pp
   "_shards" : {
    // [...]
   // [...]
   "hits" : {
      "total" : 1,
      "max_score" : 1,
      "hits" : [
            "_type" : "logs",
            "_score" : 1,
            "_source" : {
               "name" : "Alanala",
               "message" : "Hi!",
               "url" : "?name=Alanala",
               "@timestamp" : "2018-01-26T11:57:03.155Z"
               // [...]
            // [...]

The result of the above search contains a document having with a field name set to Alenala and a field message set to Hi!.


To deploy Kibana on Scalingo, you are invited to use our one-click button over here: Deploy on

The ELASTICSEARCH_URL environment variable from the previously created Logstash application should be used in the deployment process:

scalingo --app my-awesome-logstash env | grep SCALINGO_ELASTICSEARCH_URL

Then, a username and a password should be defined to configure Kibana authentication.

Once deployed, index patterns need to be configured. This is required to inform Kibana about the indices of Elasticsearch it need to look at.

In this example, the unicorns-* pattern will be used.

Click on create and you’re all set, the test input done in the previous section should appear in the Discover tab of Kibana dashboard.

Send your application logs to your own ELK stack

One of the multiple usages of the ELK stack is log parsing, storing and exploration. If you’ve set up your ELK stack for this, we have a beta feature called LOG DRAINS that will automatically send every log line generated by an application to an ELK stack. If you’re interested by this kind of feature, contact the Scalingo team via the in-chat support or via email at

When using this configuration, the application name and container index will be passed in the http query and the message will be in the request body. To parse this and create meaningful index, you can use the following configuration (if your logs are JSON formatted):

input {
  http {
    port => "${PORT}"
    user => "${USER}"
    password => "${PASSWORD}"

filter {
  grok {
    match => [ "[headers][request_uri]", "%{URIPARAM:url}" ]
    remove_field => ["headers"]

  kv {
    source => "url"
    field_split => "&"
    trim_key => "?"

  mutate {
    rename => {
      "appname" => "source"
      "hostname" => "container"
    replace => {
      "host" => "%{source}-%{container}"

  json {
    source => "message"
    target => "msg"

output {
  elasticsearch {
    hosts => "${ELASTICSEARCH_HOST}"
    user => "${ELASTICSEARCH_USER}"
    password => "${ELASTICSEARCH_PASSWORD}"
    index => "sc-apps-%{+YYYY.MM.dd}"

This tutorial is based on an article published on our blog.

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