Understanding the Difference Between SOAR vs SIEM vs XDR

In the search for the right solution to support, extend, and empower your SOC, here’s what to know when evaluating XDR vs SOAR.

Understanding the Difference Between SOAR vs SIEM vs XDR

Previously released; June 14, 2022

For nearly two decades Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) platforms were the only solution that could help security teams centralize their detection, investigation, and response activities. Unfortunately, as time has progressed, SIEMs have faced a long list of challenges. While SIEMs could once suffice, they simply are no longer as effective at preventing, detecting, and responding to threats across a growing attack surface. Plus, SIEM tools have a reputation for being expensive to purchase, challenging to deploy, and burdensome to operationalize and maintain.

Many organizations that have a SIEM enhance it with a Security Orchestration, Automation and Response (SOAR) solution to aggregate alerts from endpoints, email, cloud, and other systems. A SOAR solution enables automation, orchestration, and other analytical tools to centralize critical information about a potential threat. But SOAR also comes with high costs and complexity. It takes a highly mature security operations center (SOC) to implement SOAR and maintain its partner integrations and playbooks.

Point solutions like SIEM and SOAR are hitting their limits in today’s cybersecurity environment and are no longer as effective at preventing, detecting, and responding to threats across a growing attack surface. As a result, organizations are turning to Extended Detection and Response (XDR) to unify threat detection and response across the enterprise. In fact, 60% of organizations plan to either implement or further expand their usage of XDR over the next 12 months.1

But what are the differences between these solutions? And which is right for your organization?

What is SIEM?

SIEM systems collect, store, and report on log data for incident response, forensics, and regulatory compliance. While the acronym SIEM was first coined by Gartner in 2005, the functional fundamentals of SIEM have been around even longer. As early as the 1990s, forward-looking organizations recognized that they needed to consolidate their disparate security logs into a single system to facilitate analysis and fulfill compliance requirements.

SIEM tools aggregate log data to provide SecOps teams with a consolidated source of telemetry. They also retain data for forensic and compliance purposes, query data across systems for threat detection and investigation, and offer dashboards and reports to help SecOps staff monitor environments on-demand and comply with auditing requirements.

What is SOAR?

Security automation is the automatic handling of security operations-related tasks, including both administrative duties and incident detection and response. Security automation enables security teams to scale with growing workloads. Security orchestration is a method of connecting security tools and integrating disparate security systems, being the connected layer that streamlines security processes and powers automation. Today, 66% percent of analysts believe that half of their tasks could be automated.2 For this reason, some organizations turn to SOAR platforms.

Often added as an extension of SIEM systems, SOAR can provide playbooks to automate frequently used analyst workflows and can help implement “security middleware” that allows disparate security tools to communicate. SOAR tools improve SOC processes by enriching data, improving alert triage, and automating repetitive tasks.

What is Extended Detection and Response (XDR)?

The security industry is experiencing a shift towards a new class of solutions known as XDR. Because XDR aggregates security data from across the enterprise, some might assume that it is merely an evolved version of SIEM. But the truth is, XDR goes far beyond the characteristics of a traditional SIEM, offering tangible value with more effective security, faster workflows, better incident management, and improved visibility.

The “X” in XDR represents the integration and extension of protection across the entire IT ecosystem – thereby “eXtending” that protection further than ever before. The predecessor to XDR, Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), focused on monitoring and protecting organizations from threats at the endpoints. With data moving beyond the perimeter, XDR was necessary to extend the range of protection to the network, servers, and cloud as well as endpoints. The term XDR was first introduced in 2018 and refers to a new generation of security solutions that analyst firm Gartner describes as “threat detection and incident response tools that natively integrate multiple security products into a cohesive security operations system.”3

XDR provides advanced detection, rapid response, and intuitive automation that meets most customers' needs without the unpredictable pricing of a SIEM or added cost of a third-party SOAR solution. By consolidating multiple security tools into a single threat detection and response platform, XDR eases the time, effort, and added complexity that comes with managing multiple standalone solutions.


SOAR solutions automate core SOC processes to create more efficient responses that require less resources and time. The efficiencies gained help organizations reduce mean time to respond (MTTR). A quick response reduces dwell time and contains an intruder quickly, limiting the impact of an attack. SOAR is a very valuable addition to SIEM.

In contrast, XDR offers advanced detection, rapid response, and intuitive automation that meets most customers' needs without the added cost of a SOAR solution. XDR automatically correlates, prioritizes, and validates alerts, enabling security teams to work efficiently on the most pressing threats. It also offers built-in security investigation workflows and automated playbooks that help streamline investigations and expedite response actions. XDR is a simpler, more intuitive solution to reduce the burden of manual work and save analysts’ valuable time.

SIEMs are great for collecting and analyzing large volumes of log events and other data. Organizations that have made significant investments in SIEM may still choose to use it for compliance and auditing purposes — especially in industries such as finance and healthcare, which face significant regulatory scrutiny. But SIEM technology was first introduced in the mid-2000s when the threat landscape looked very different. While SIEMs could once suffice, they simply are no longer as effective at preventing, detecting, and responding to threats across a growing attack surface.

SIEM users deal with a range of challenges including unpredictable costs, too much noise and limited detection and response capabilities. Operating a SIEM requires highly specialized workers to not only build out the SIEM, but also generate the detection analytics. For firms that want to mature their security programs and improve their ability to react and respond to attacks, XDR is a more cost-effective and tailored solution. 

XDR acts as an interconnected system, with threat intelligence benefiting every angle of the environment — without introducing shared risk or increased costs. XDR can provide more effective detection and response to targeted attacks, and includes native support for behavior analysis, incident response, threat intelligence and automation. 

Functionality SOAR SIEM XDR
Open platform for aggregating telemetry and security-relevant data from diverse sources Varies
Long-term data retention for compliance and audit - Varies
Alert enrichment with threat intelligence to detect & identify advanced threats -
Uses AI/ML and human intelligence to continuously improve threat detection and identification -
Helps SecOps respond to and remediate security issues faster and more efficiently with automated actions and proven playbooks -
A single unified detection and response platform integrated with multiple security tools, vendors, and telemetry types - -
Predictable pricing model and reduced tool sprawl to save time and money - -

Three Questions to Consider in Your Search for an XDR Provider

In essence, XDR helps security teams move faster and respond more accurately. But not all XDR solutions are created equal. Before you decide to use XDR for automation, there are a few important questions to consider in your search for an XDR provider:

  1. Does the solution offload repetitive tasks and automate optimized processes? Automation replicates the most repetitive parts of security analysts’ tasks to give them valuable time back, maximize their skillsets, and enable broader reach across the enterprise. Automation streamlines routine tasks so SOC teams can focus on their most impactful responsibilities – investigating and responding to threats as efficiently and effectively as possible. Look for an XDR platform with a constantly expanding library of pre-built playbooks to automate manual tasks such as:
    • Creating and querying tickets through other ticketing systems
    • Creating custom email and instant messaging notifications
    • Managing alerts
    • Creating investigations
    • Responding to incidents across multiple security controls 

  2. Can you respond to the most severe threats quickly? A good XDR solution will automatically correlate, validate, and prioritize the most critical alerts, enabling security team to work efficiently on the most pressing threats. XDR enriches data with relevant context to help analysts act quickly and decisively. The right solution will help you detect and automatically respond to threat actor behavior across your environment to reduce operational risk and support any talent gaps.

  3. Are you getting the most out of your existing security technology investments? It’s important to look for an open XDR platform with a broad set of integrations. Unlike native XDR platforms that rely on a single vendor, open XDR platforms integrate extensively across vendors. This provides the benefit of choosing best-of-breed tools and leveraging telemetry across the entire attack surface. External connectors to third-party technologies including ticketing systems, email, endpoint tools, and more allow you to get more out of your existing technology stack. Rather than rip-and-replace, look for an XDR solution that maximizes ROI on your existing investments.

Secureworks® Taegis™ XDR uniquely provides broad and deep threat detection that combines over two decades of machine learning and human intelligence to automatically detect and respond to threats early in the kill chain. 57 percent of organizations say that automation, artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML) – all built into XDR – have helped significantly improve their cyber resiliency.4 Taegis is built on the human insights of Secureworks’ Counter Threat Unit™ (CTU™) and we integrate ML and AI as key components underpinning our automation features.

To learn more about Taegis XDR and the automations that could change the game for your organization and security team, request a demo here. 

1. Forrester Opportunity Snapshot: A Custom Study Commissioned By Secureworks, June 2022
2. Tines Report: Voice of the SOC Analyst, 2022 
3. Gartner: Innovation Insight for Extended Detection and Response, April 2021
4. Ponemon Institute: Cyber Resilient Organization Study, 2021

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