Amazon Elasticsearch Service (Amazon ES) is a popular choice for log analytics, search, real-time application monitoring, clickstream analysis, and more. One commonality among these use cases is the need to write and run queries to obtain search results at lightning speed. However, doing so requires expertise in the JSON-based Elasticsearch query domain-specific language (Query DSL). Although Query DSL is powerful, it has a steep learning curve, and wasn’t designed as a human interface to easily create one-time queries and explore user data.

To solve this problem, we provided the Open Distro for Elasticsearch SQL Engine on Amazon ES, which we have been expanding since the initial release. The Structured Query Language (SQL) engine is powered by Open Distro for Elasticsearch, an Apache 2.0 licensed distribution of Elasticsearch. For more information about the Open Distro project, see Open Distro for Elasticsearch. For more information about the SQL engine capabilities, see SQL.

As part of this continued investment, we’re happy to announce new capabilities, including a Kibana-based SQL Workbench and a new SQL CLI that makes it even easier for Amazon ES users to use the Open Distro for Elasticsearch SQL Engine to work with their data.

SQL is the de facto standard for data and analytics and one of the most popular languages among data engineers and data analysts. Introducing SQL in Amazon ES allows you to manifest search results in a tabular format with documents represented as rows, fields as columns, and indexes as table names, respectively, in the WHERE clause. This acts as a straightforward and declarative way to represent complex DSL queries in a readable format. The newly added tools can act as a powerful yet simplified way to extract and analyze data, and can support complex analytics use cases.

Features overview

The following is a brief overview of the features of Open Distro for Elasticsearch SQL Engine on Amazon ES:

  • Query tools
    • SQL Workbench – A comprehensive and integrated visual tool to run on-demand SQL queries, translate SQL into its REST equivalent, and view and save results as text, JSON, JDBC, or CSV. The following screenshot shows a query on the SQL Workbench page.


  • SQL CLI – An interactive, standalone command line tool to run on-demand SQL queries, translate SQL into its REST equivalent, and view and save results as text, JSON, JDBC, or CSV. For following screenshot shows a query on the CLI.



  • Connectors and drivers
    • ODBC driver – The Open Database Connectivity (ODBC) driver enables connecting with business intelligence (BI) applications such as Tableau and exporting data to CSV and JSON.
    • JDBC driver – The Java Database Connectivity (JDBC) driver also allows you to connect with BI applications such as Tableau and export data to CSV and JSON.
  • Query support
    • Basic queries – You can use the SELECT clause, along with FROM, WHERE, GROUP BY, HAVING, ORDER BY, and LIMIT to search and aggregate data.
    • Complex queries – You can perform complex queries such as subquery, join, and union on more than one Elasticsearch index.
    • Metadata queries – You can query basic metadata about Elasticsearch indexes using the SHOW and DESCRIBE commands.
  • Delete support
    • Delete – You can delete all the documents or documents that satisfy predicates in the WHERE clause from search results. However, it doesn’t delete documents from the actual Elasticsearch index.
  • JSON and full-text search support
    • JSON – Support for JSON by following PartiQL specification, a SQL-compatible query language, lets you query semi-structured and nested data for any data format.
    • Full-text search support – Full-text search on millions of documents is possible by letting you specify the full range of search options using SQL commands such as match and score.
  • Functions and operator support
    • Functions and operators – Support for string functions and operators, numeric functions and operators, and date-time functions is possible by enabling fielddata in the document mapping.
  • Settings
    • Settings – You can view, configure, and modify settings to control the behavior of SQL without needing to restart or bounce the Elasticsearch cluster.
  • Interfaces
    • Endpoints – The explain endpoint allows translating SQL into Query DSL, and the cursor helps obtain a paginated response for the SQL query result.
  • Monitoring
    • Monitoring – You can obtain node-level statistics by using the stats endpoint.
  • Request and response protocols


Open Distro for Elasticsearch SQL Engine on Amazon ES provides a comprehensive, flexible, and user-friendly set of features to obtain search results from Amazon ES in a declarative manner using SQL. For more information about querying with SQL, see SQL Support for Amazon Elasticsearch Service.


About the Author

virajphViraj Phanse (@vrphanse) is a product management leader at Amazon Web Services for Search Services/Analytics. Prior to AWS, he was in product management/strategy and go-to-market leadership roles at Oracle, Aerospike, INSZoom and Persistent Systems. He is a Fellow and Selection Committee member at Berkeley Angel Network, and a Big Data Advisory Board Member at San Francisco State University. He has completed his M.S. in Computer Science from UCLA and MBA from UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.