The Differences Between SIEM and Open XDR - Exabeam

The Differences Between SIEM and Open XDR

June 04, 2021


Reading time
4 mins

The term “security information and event management” (SIEM) was coined in 2005 as an evolution of “central log management” (CLM). Since then, SIEM tools have experienced scope creep and transformed into the tools that we know today, offering many capabilities to solve a very wide set of problems for customers. Gartner has tracked this space in their SIEM Magic Quadrant for more than a decade. On the other hand, “extended detection and response” (XDR) was coined in 2018. XDR tools have been designed with a narrower purpose in mind and have not gone through any scope creep… yet. 

We already covered several XDR topics in previous posts, for example: 

Today, we compare SIEM versus open XDR from several different angles. 

Key differences between SIEM and open XDR

The table below captures some key differences between SIEM and open XDR tools. 

Domain coverage Multi domain coverage: 
– Threat detection, investigation, and response (TDIR) 
– Compliance 
– Centralized storage 
– Reporting 
Single domain coverage: TDIR 
Design approach Designed for customization and “just in case” situations Designed to be focused on efficient TDIR 
Data location Typically assumes that the data needs to be centralized in the SIEM Typically assumes that data could be stored anywhere and/or doesn’t need to be stored for the long term 
Delivery model Can be on-prem, cloud-delivered or both Cloud-delivered 
Storage requirement Offers an infinitely scalable storage Doesn’t always offer long-term storage 
Detection approach Typically focuses on correlation-based analytics Typically offers machine learning-based advanced analytics 
Automation approach Typically offers very flexible orchestration, automation, and playbooks for TDIR and non-TDIR use cases. Typically offers prepackaged, use case–specific TDIR with prescriptive orchestration, automation, and playbooks 
GTM motions Typically replaces or displaces legacy SIEMs, CLMs and/or data lakes Typically augments legacy SIEMs, CLMs and/or data lakes 

Although both SIEM and open XDR do share some characteristics (e.g., both can do TDIR), their design philosophy and core capabilities make them different. In the case of Exabeam Fusion offerings, both Exabeam Fusion XDR and Exabeam Fusion SIEM share some structural components such as our advanced analytics engines and automation framework.

Which tool do I need for my organization?

SIEM and open XDR are best suited for different situations. 

If the functional coverage is focused only on TDIR across a heterogeneous stack, then a tool focused on that function (open XDR) might be a better alternative with a shorter time to value than a general-purpose tool such as a SIEM.  

If the functional coverage goes beyond TDIR, for example including centralized storage, or compliance then a SIEM is in order as the XDR may or may not be able to address these additional requirements.  

Some organizations may want to start small with a specific requirement on TDIR and then plan on expanding their scope to other areas of security operations such as compliance or log centralization. These organizations should look for vendors that offer an open XDR with an easy upgrade path to a full-featured SIEM, for example by adding storage, compliance packages or non-TDIR dashboarding capabilities. 

And regardless of the above, organizations should prioritize tools that offer prepackaged content for common and advanced use cases that can deliver at scale with an outcomes-based approach. 

In conclusion, SIEM and open XDR might appear similar at first glance but actually differ on many key criteria. Don’t hesitate to visit our products page to learn more about what Exabeam offers in each of these categories. 


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