Meet ES Helper

ES Helper is the purpose-built tool for getting Splunk Enterprise Security over the hump and actionable for Security Teams. Enterprise Security is a complex tool that takes all kinds of data to create its interesting visuals and track its notable events, but due to its complexity it can be off-putting to new or inexperienced Splunk Admins. ES Helper is here to bridge the gap and help those get a head start on utilizing an amazing security tool. 

Where are we at?

Every action plan needs a starting place, and ES Helper figures that out for you with automation. With a set of interesting and complex searches, the Atlas Element analyzes your ES Deployment and gives out the ES Utilization Score.

This score immediately tells Splunk and ES Owners where they ‘are’ with their deployment, and what room they have to grow. This is supremely beneficial for tracking growth of the platform and analyzing how well you are utilizing your investment into security and simplifies the complex workflows of ES into a digestible format.

What’s next?

After gaining perspective on the status of the Enterprise Security deployment with the ES Utilization Score, the next logical question is to ask how to improve it. ES Helper is right there with you with the ES Datamodel Report. This Report shows how much data is being ingested into Enterprise Security, and furthermore, layers a priority lens over it for context.

The Priority labels are derived from Team Atlas’s investigation in how Splunk ES utilizes the data, the importance of the tied outcomes from the data, and how much bang for the data buck each data point gives Security Analysts. Using this Priority, and the investigation into how filled the datamodels are, Splunk Admins can quickly identify which datamodel should be buffed up with more data to improve data coverage in Enterprise Security.

Lucky for the Admins, selecting the datamodel in Atlas ES Helper quickly identifies any recommended sourcetypes to fill out the datamodel with actionable data.

This workflow enables Admins to go from zero to hero with ES with a clear line of sight on next steps for improving their security monitoring and posture!

What’s Changed?

After updating a datamodel with a whole slew of additional data sources. An Admin may ask what impact they actually had. With ES Helper, Admins can utilize our analysis to get quick results on which dashboards and searches changed, enabling a quick validation check and reward for hard work!

Conclusion

ES Helper speed up a technical and slow process of improving an Enterprise Security deployment. By fast tracking a Splunk Admin’s ability to analyze their environment, identify new data sources, and track changes, Splunk Admins can quickly improve and track their improvement to their Security CIM. This effort is even more improved by bringing Expertise on Demand into the mix, who will further enable Admins to meet their security needs ahead of schedule!

Meet Data Utilization

Data Utilization is an excellent companion Element to Data Management. While Data Management is focused on tracking ingests with metadata and awareness alerts, Data Utilization is centered on using automation to help Admins and Users track how Users, Scheduled Searches, and Dashboards are utilization data being ingested into Splunk.

How is this being used again?

Data Utilization helps Admins quickly identify how data is being used across their environment by users. By tracking how ad-hoc searches and scheduled searches are searching across all data, Data Utilization can highlight active data streams. Furthermore, Data Utilization investigates dashboards that have been used lately, and investigates what data is being utilized on each dashboard load. All of this comes together into an easy-to-understand report.

Admins can change the filter for the search, splitting the data by either index, for high level investigations, index-sourcetype, for normal baselines, and index-sourcetype-source to identify individual data points that slipped the cracks. Admins can select any one of these findings to learn more about its utilization.

Using Data Utilization, Admins can quickly identify who is searching a sourcetype, using what scheduled searches, and on what dashboards, and when! Admins can also inspect the SPL associated with each of these three options!

Make way for the new!

Data Utilization also offers a powerful perspective for Splunk Owners. By analyzing how data is being utilized, Admins can quickly identify any depreciated data streams that could be removed from Splunk. The benefits for this are evident, as it can make room for other ingests for more important use cases, or bring a deployment down below their license level, reducing Splunk operating costs. Another benefit is the reduction in technical debt, as Splunk Admins can now focus on data streams that matter for their users!

Conclusion

Data Utilization is a powerful tool, enabling Splunk Admins to quickly come to terms how their environment is being used by both Users and Scheduled Searches, while empowering Admins to jumpstart discussions for prioritizing data streams. With Data Utilization, Admins can more easily reduce license utilization while increasing visibility. 

Starting Small in Splunk: Reports and Dashboards for Beginners!

So, you have your data ingesting into Splunk, some familiarly with Splunk’s Search Processing Language (SPL for short), but now you are wondering what’s next on your data journey. How do you go from the massive sandbox that is the Splunk platform, to a tailored experience that gets you to where you need to be fast? Through understanding reports and dashboarding, of course!  With these pivotal Splunk tools, you will design the best tools for you and your teammates for turning data into intelligence and action!

Now, before you become a Splunk hot-shot, its important to slow down and ensure that the work you are about to do is approved and in the correct location. If you are not the Splunk Admin of your environment, reach out to them and ensure that you have the OK to build reports and dashboards on the system, otherwise known as ‘knowledge objects. Splunk Admins may have processes or locations for you build your beautiful creations, so its important to check first!

Speaking of locations, before we create these helpful knowledge objects, ensure that you are on the correct application. If you Admin did not direct you to one, select the Splunk Enterprise logo in the top right to see a list of applications. 

Selecting this header will take you to the Home page, showing all installed or custom Splunk Apps on the left!

Refer to any app your Splunk Admin directed you to for your mission or find the app that aligns most with your use cases and select it. You may even want to ask or research into looking into your own Application!

You shouldn’t be scared or overwhelmed on what an ‘Application’ is. Think of it more as a folder of cool dashboards and custom reports and less of something you would find on your phone. They help with separating your knowledge objects into logical buckets for consumption.

Alright, so after clicking down into your Splunk Application of choice, you are in the right place, and now it’s the right time to learn about reports! Reports are searches that you really like and want to save for later. For example, if you spent all morning learning SPL and designed a search that counted the amount of foreign IP pings on your website, or a search that tracks the amount of money billed on projects!

To create a report, you first need a search, so create a search that you find helpful with your data. Make sure you get the date time right! Here is my sample search that finds events with more than 2000 count in the ‘score’ field.

Now massage that search. Make the visual at the bottom match what you want. Do you want it to be a table? Or a timeline? Whatever looks best to you, make it so!

Finally, hit that big ‘Save As’ button in the top right! Select Save as Report…

And give it a name and description! You should save these, and then click view to see your custom report dashboard.

You can continue to edit and refine the search through the edit menu or change the time range to whatever you need currently. To find this report later, go to Settings in the top right and select Searches, reports, and alerts. Yours should then appear in the nice list!

And that’s it! Now if you have a great search tracking some fantastic outcome, save it as a report and you can come back to it or share it as the data updates! But what if you have multiple searches and reports that play off each other? Well then, it’s time to build a dashboard!

Dashboards in Splunk are a collection of useful Splunk searches and visualizations that enable users to quickly get a pulse on their data and determine outcomes from live findings. Dashboards are essential to creating clean reports that automatically update as data flows into Splunk. To make a dashboard, start just like how we started with a report, but instead of saving a Search as a Report, save it as a dashboard panel!

Now the modal that pops up may be overwhelming, but don’t worry! Just tackle it piece by piece and you got this!

  • Dashboard Selection
    • Select New if you are making a new dashboard!
    • Select Existing and search for your previous dashboard if you are adding to an existing one!
  • Dashboard Title
    • If it’s a new dashboard, give it a name, like “Firewall security” or “Finance Statements”
  • Dashboard ID & Description
    • Feel free to keep these as they are
  • Dashboard Permissions
    • If you plan on sharing this dashboard with others (or having them review its content), click ‘Shared in App’!
  • Panel Title
    • Give the search a name, it wil appear on the dashboard
  • Everything else
    • Ignore for now! We can change it later!

And hit save! Then you should select ‘View Dashboard’ to see it in action.

Boom, dashboard made, but a bit bare! Want to add more to it? Slam that Edit button in the top right and start adding searches using the ‘Add Panel’ button. I would recommend adding statistic tables first, since you can always change your visualizations later.

2 pieces of advice! Your dashboard is extremely malleable, so don’t be afraid to throw broken or simple visualizations things on it for the time being and fix it using the open search button or change visualization button later!

And second, hit that Save button in the top right often! If you leave the dashboard mid-edit, it will not save your work! 

Splunk is a powerful tool, and once Users get a familiarity with SPL, Reports, and Dashboards, they are extremely dangerous! If the data is there, then dashboards can be whipped up in a matter of minutes, and once manual processes are now automated with live data instantly! Good work getting through this guide and check out the others for other topics or advanced mechanics, and most importantly, enjoy your Splunking!

An Introduction to Atlas

Splunk is an amazing Data Analytics platform, able to receive data from all over your ecosystem, perform crazy effective correlation searches and populate tidy dashboards. But a platform this big and mature obviously has some hurdles for owners to overcome before receiving the full benefits of such a large investment. Atlas can help you clear these Splunk sore spots and get you and your team on the fast track to achieving outcomes and mastering your Splunk Environment and Utilization.

When we say Splunk is a massive platform, we mean it! From Splunk Core, which consists of Search Heads, Indexers, and Forwarders, to Splunk Enterprise Security, Splunk SOAR, Splunk ITSI, the Splunk portfolio is as complex as the unique and technical requirements demand. And peeling behind the curtain, powering these applications and outcomes are Splunk searches, scheduled alerts, dashboards, data models, lookup tables, KV stores, and the list goes on and on. All these ingredients mixed together in what could be an overwhelming dish for many new and old Splunk owners.

Zeroing in on New Splunk Owners, these fresh faced Splunkers are eager to get results out of their new platform but may be overwhelmed by all the bits and bots of the platform. What should new Splunk Users and Admins do first? Learn Search Processing Language? Get Data into Splunk through a one-time drop or a consistent data feed? Build a simple dashboard? What should Users and Admins learn first? How to control for concurrency in alerting, or how to write better SPL searches to ensure the environment doesn’t tank? These questions can hamper Splunk adoption, and lead to an unorganized, and unoptimized, Splunk environment. 

Mature Splunk Owners are not without issues as well. With Admins swapping in and out of management teams, is the Splunk environment under a consistent and knowledgeable enough watch to improve?  How are new users and data onboarded to ensure stability? How do Admin teams stay proactive with Concurrency, and deprecated data streams? These issues can slow down a once effective Splunk Team, and more importantly slow or stall a Splunk System.

As we promised earlier, Atlas can help with these issues and light the fire of Splunk Adoption and Expansion for your team. But what is Atlas, and how does it look in practice? An Atlas subscription consists of 3 products: 

  • Reference Designs, which is packaged automation to get Splunk operational on unique hardware ecosystems to ensure best practice and better performance
  • Expertise on Demand (EoD), a fantastic service dedicated to live help with achieving Splunk outcomes such as data onboarding or education
  • Atlas Application Suite, a collection of Atlas Elements that help Admins and Users master Splunk

The Atlas Application Suite resides on your Search Head layer and is easily applied like a collection of Splunk Apps. These Elements work together to achieve great outcomes for your Splunk environment and Users. These elements align themselves with common themes that plague Splunk deployments everywhere:

  • Data Sprawl: Keeping track of ingests and ensuring license utilization is spent wisely
  • Search Quality: Poor scheduled searches and concurrency can severely impact performance or results
  • Data Awareness: Ensuring data streams stay healthy and automating reporting for disruptions
  • Usability Gap: Lowering the bar to entry for utilizing and managing Splunk
  • Cloud Migration: Making the bridge to Splunk Cloud quick and easy

Aligned to these themes, Atlas can make short work of the hurdles we mentioned earlier, especially since the Atlas Application Suite resides on Splunk itself!

For new Splunk Owners, Expertise on Demand and the Search Library can guide Users and Admins down the best route for learning Splunk SPL and building dashboards. Scheduling Inspector empowers Splunk Admins to ensure Scheduled Searches are working as expected and Data Management enables Admins to have visibility into how ingest License is being spent.

Mature Splunk Environments can appreciate Atlas’s ability to tune up their environment and give Admin tools they need to not just manage Data Sprawl but put their Forwarders under a watchful eye and highlight unreliable data streams. Scheduling Assistant will help Admins speed up the environment and reduce errors as they reduce system concurrency, and Expertise on Demand is of course still there to assist with any issues outside the Splunk Team’s scope.

Splunk is a large platform that deserves a well-equipped team of Splunk Admins and a well-supported squad of Splunk Users. With Atlas, Splunk Environments both big and small, new and old, can get more out of Splunk, making it faster, more effective, and able to tackle new goals. With Atlas, you can begin your Splunk Journey with the right foot forward.

Meet Atlas Forwarder Awareness

If there was a secret sauce for Splunk, the key ingredient would be the platform’s forwarders. Providing users with the ability to automatically send data for indexing, Splunk forwarders are essential to data delivery in Splunk Enterprise and Splunk Cloud environments.

In most Splunk instances, you have multiple, if not hundreds, sometimes even thousands of, forwarders. These forwarders throw data at your search heads and indexers in order to read and store your data. However, there has historically been an issue with forwarders: they can silently drop dead.

If you’re looking at your data pipeline in Splunk, your forwarders are on the front line. Forwarders play a pivotal role in ingesting your data; however, they can disappear or unexpectedly fail without you knowing. A missing forwarder may result in an issue as small as temporarily not ingesting data or as large as a dashboard or alert missing key information for weeks.

To solve this time-old problem in Splunk, we’ve built an application within Atlas, our platform for Splunk, that allows you to have eyes on all of your forwarders in one place.

Atlas’ Forwarder Awareness Application

Atlas Forwarder Awareness is an application that provides visibility into all of your forwarders, their statuses, and any misconfigurations or failures within your environment. Built within the Atlas Application Suite, the Forwarder Awareness tool enables teams to have constant visibility into their forwarders’ health and statuses.

Now teams can quickly determine if a forwarder is missing and take action—immediately.

A Birds’ Eye View of Your Ecosystem

Atlas Forwarder Awareness brings the Atlas touch to your Splunk and Infrastructure by empowering Admins to quickly group together forwarders by context or server classes. This means that Admins can quickly identify if a critical forwarder is down from the Forwarder Group overview, and further investigate with ease.

By giving this overview, Admins won’t be swamped with false positives or low priorities but will receive actionable information with the appropriate context. Furthermore, Atlas’s automation also tracks uptime on a per Forwarder basis, enabling Admins to identify problematic data streams.

Forwarder Awareness also comes pre-packaged with Alerts that can quickly inform Admins and Group Owners of failures in their critical systems, ensuring fast turnaround time for fixing issues.

Selecting one of these tiles enables Admins to drill down further into the Forwarder Report.

A Clear Dive

On the Forwarder Report, the Admin gets a heads-up display of the most actionable items related to Forwarders. Version, SSL status, throughput, receiver count, uptime, status and more! This enables Admins to understand what action times they need to take, while applying the group filter from the previous page.

Selecting a Forwarder offers a deeper dive into ingest of sourcetypes and throughput over time, while also outlining what sourcetypes the forwarder is responsible for. In fact, the entire Forwarder Awareness Element enables users to search by sourcetype, enabling users to quickly see the status of all forwarders tied to particular outcomes!

Conclusion

Every Splunk instance is at risk of a failed or missing forwarder. With your forwarders being at the front line of your data pipeline, it’s essential to have eyes on them at all times. With Atlas’s Forwarder Awareness Application, you have the visibility you need, and visibility you won’t find anywhere else. Paired with built-in alerting, Splunk Admins powered by Atlas will have all the tools necessary to make the most robust Splunk system out there!

This is just a glimpse into the power of the Atlas platform. Paired with more applications, reference designs, and support services, Atlas enables all Splunk teams to be successful. If you’d like to learn more about the Atlas Platform, let us know in the form below.

Meet Atlas Data Management

Splunk is the data to everything platform, capturing massive volumes of data every day. Users will know, though, that without visibility, it can be difficult to extract the maximum value from Splunk. Too often, insufficient monitoring can lead to serious issues in a Splunk instance: platform underutilization, license overage, and even missing data. Each of these problems translates into a serious cost in financial resources, not to mention the hours of human intervention spent on troubleshooting a Splunk environment.

Atlas makes data management easy.

Figure 1 — the Data Management icon on the Atlas Core homepage

Atlas, Kinney Group’s revolutionary new platform for Splunk, includes the Data Management application, a tool that de-mystifies your license costs and improves Splunk stability with automated reporting. Gone are the days of license overages and data streams quietly dying in the dark—Atlas ensures unparalleled visibility to guarantee efficient use of data resources.

Attack Your Sprawl!

Data Management has the pivotal tool in Atlas for reigning in your license and keeping it in check. The Data Inventory dashboard organizes your existing data by sourcetype and index, with visibility into license utilization per sourcetype. With the Atlas Feature, Data Definitions, Admins can record a plethora of notes on each sourcetype, keep track of the who, what, when, where, and why of each data point! Data Definitions also automatically pull important Index and Sourcetype information, coalescing many different data points helpful for triaging into one place.

With these two enhancements together, Admins can use Data Management to finally own their Data Ingests into Splunk, with the ability to easily track, update, and be informed on how they are spending their license. This gives Admins the tools they need to course correct or triage issues like never before!

Automate Alerts and Awareness!

Data Management has another trick up it’s sleeve. On the Data Inventory dashboard, there exists a feature capable of greatly increasing visibility into data pipelines and ensuring critical dashboards and alerts stay accurate. Meet Data Watch!

Each sourcetype on Data Inventory has a bell icon that can be selected to turn on Data Watch, an automated alert interface that turns your needs for stability and visibility into easy to track and edit alerting!

Using Data Watch, Admins can quickly create alerts for data streams to ensure they are the first to know if a data pipeline faulters. Using pattern recognition, Data Watch can alert if the data stream dips below a threshold or comes from fewer sources, creating a technical trip wire to alert based on bad behavior in your pipelines.

With Data Watch, Admins can quickly expand their horizon on their Splunk Deployment, with minimal time needed thanks to Atlas’s automation to set up and further edit!

Conclusion

The “data to everything” platform promises incredible results—but you need a high degree of visibility within a Splunk environment to make that happen. Atlas’s Data Management application provides the transparency you need to ensure your license and ingests are being properly tracked to prevent sprawl and managed to prevent adverse errors seeping into your dashboards. Teams can now collaborate seamlessly with the knowledge that their data streams won’t be hidden or lost, bringing your organization one step closer to getting every insight you can out of your data.

There’s more to come from Atlas! Fill out the form below to stay in touch with Kinney Group.