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Search Activity

Overview
Details
Search Activity helps Splunk champions monitor users, grow usage, and understand personas. It provides metrics on use, organizational information, and adoption. Install it and answer all manner of Splunk questions, such as:
* "Who are my top users?”
* “Who is running realtime searches?”
* “How complete is my users' grasp of the search language?”
* “How many errors do they receive?”
* “How long does it take them to run a search, and over what timeframe?”
* “Who is exporting or sharing search results?”.

To provide answers, this app features an accelerated data store, 75+ reports, dashboards, alerting capabilities and more. It is run in hundreds of Splunk installations both massive (tens of terabytes) and small (gigabytes).

*Please check requirements under "Documentation"*

Requirements

There are a few qualifications for where you should install the app:

  • Certified only on Linux at present (though should likely work in Windows). Certified on 6.3, 6.2, or 6.1.

  • Shouldn't be installed on a search head cluster member. Install on your DMC or Deployer instance instead, and it will still pick up your SHC data. (If this is a dealbreaker, email me.)

  • Be cautious installing on a normal user search head. We can't prevent normal users from viewing audit history in the TSIDX (though they probably won't figure it out). If that's a concern, make sure it's on an admin box.

  • Requires 1-15 GB of disk space available on Search Head.

Feature List

The Splunk Activity App (SA) was written to help Splunk champions understand and grow Splunk usage within their organizations, in addition to better understanding the activities and personas of their users. There are three primary areas of functionality:

Essential Metrics

This includes the Search Overview dashboard, the Per-User dashboard, and the Per-Search dashboard. Together, these allow you to view the top users in the environment, and understand some of how they use the system.

Questions you can answer here include “what users are chewing up searches?” “Who is running realtime searches today?” “How complex is this user’s grasp of the search language?” “How many errors do they receive?” “How long does it take them to run a search, and over what timeframe?” “Who is exporting or sharing search results?”

The Find Users dashboard also allows you to group particular sets of users based on search metrics or LDAP metrics. This is useful if you want to invite your local users to a SplunkLive event! The Find Searches dashboard allow you to find problematic searches or searches that meet a particular characteristic.

Organizational Information

The centerpiece of this section is the hierarchy view, which will take your LDAP information and then overlay statistics, so that you can understand who uses Splunk within the organization, who faces slow search time, and more.

In addition to the hierarchy, the usage by leader allows you to understand the search behavior of particular departments (implicitly) or under a particular leader, allowing you to describe Splunk’s value to those leaders.

Adoption Information

The Organizational Adoption dashboard shows metrics relating to how people within the organization are using Splunk.

By tagging users, you can group and track cohorts of users. This is great for understanding the usage of recently onboarded or trained users. You might also tag VIPs to keep a special eye on them.

A common question is: “How is this different from Splunk on Splunk (SOS)?” SOS is a fantastic app that you should have installed and SA doesn’t try to rival its power for monitoring and troubleshooting. While there are a few areas of overlap (and a few reports borrowed), SA isn’t primarily a troubleshooting app.

Overall, it is the goal of this app to improve the ease of tracking consumption, and increasing adoption of Splunk. Please put any questions / suggestions on Splunk Answers.

Overall thank you to everyone involved in the creation of SA, and those who contributed to base understanding, including the VMware App Team (and their amazing hierarchy), the SOS team, the NorCal Majors SE team, Splunk Answers, and everyone who ever answered a python question on Google.

Installing

Installing the Splunk Activity App is more complex than the typical app, but you will be guided by a setup wizard. There are four sections to set up in the app:
-LDAP
-LDAP Management
-App Configuration
-Datastore / Backfill

LDAP

While not required, it is highly recommended that you leverage LDAP to enrich the data in the app for Splunk Activity. Much of the most interesting functionality, in particular the Org Chart tree view is predicated on LDAP information. Fortunatley, getting LDAP information into Splunk is easy! You have three options for configuring this section:

SA-ldapsearch Lookup: This is usually the best option. Splunk has a search addon (called either SA-ldapsearch or Splunk Support for Active Directory) for directly querying LDAP, which is widely used and fully supported. Find it here. You install the app, and follow the configuration settings listed in the docs (here). Once configured, you can enable the scheduled search to periodically poll LDAP and update LDAPSearch.csv (linked to from the setup page).

Existing LDAP Lookup: This option presumes that you have an existing LDAP dump created by the method described in the previous option. This should be a CSV stored at $SPLUNK_HOME/etc/apps/splunk_activity/lookups/LDAPSearch.csv. This method makes the most sense if your production Splunk environment doesn't have the right version of Java for SA-ldapsearch or if you have a policy that prevents you from storing base64 encoded (or just plain text) credentials for an LDAP user on the Splunk server, as required by SA-ldapsearch. This is also the most QA'd option as that is how the development and staging environments are configured.

No LDAP: If you have no desire to integrate with LDAP, select this option. You can always come back and change it -- all LDAP components are run at search time. Note: you must select No LDAP if you don't wish to use LDAP. Leaving this section unconfigured will prevent you from using the app.

LDAP Management

This piece is very straightforward. If you elect to use LDAP (as you should), you must ensure that the scheduled search creating the LDAPMgmtChain is enabled. This section will also check to ensure that LDAPSearch.csv is populated.

App Configuration

There are three sections to this page, though one is optional.

Field Extractions: This is a check that should always succeed, verifying that we see data where we expect to. If this fails, check the sourcetype of your audit data, and make sure that fields such as actualsearch are configured.

App Permissions: Because this app shows sensitive data, it is required to restrict access to administrators. A link is provided to configure this -- any non-default configuration will pass, so if you do want to open to all users, you can just select all the individual groups. You can always also override the SA_Config_System macro to "configured" but note that this will reset each time you visit the setup page.

Admin Email Address: This app contains beta functionality to email users, welcoming them to the system. Configuring an admin email address will cause admins to be CC'd, allowing them to easily see new users in addition to users seeing a point of contact.

Datastore / Backfill

Finally, with all of the above configured, you must make sure data flows into the app. There are two scripted inputs (CheckDataStats-search.py and CheckDataStats-events.py) that leverage the admin credentials (via passAuth) to run the tscollect process. These scripts also handle backfill of data into the accelerated data store (TSIDX). To configure the app initially, you can select the time period that you would like to backfill (e.g., one month, six months, one year, etc.) and then click both the Set Search History Backfill and Set Events Backfill buttons. If you wish to have no backfill (not generally recommended) you can select No Backfill.

Once configured, the scripted input should start running within ten minutes, and you will see jobs kicked off in the job activity tracker for the admin user. Note that backfill searches can take a long time to run, depending on the environment, and can use several GB of disk space. You may want to reduce the number of days that will be backfilled at a time by modifying the appropriate parameter at the top of the CheckDataStats-search.py file. (There is more logic in the search backfill -- the events backfill should not experience long run times or other related issues.)

If you have renamed the admin user account please either update the default/inputs.conf to specify a different user, or better yet copy the default/inputs.conf to local/inputs.conf and modify just the passAuth line there with an admin username.

Summary

Once you have gotten either Green Checkmarks or Yellow Warnings for all the parameters in the setup page, the SA_Config_System macro will be set to "configured" and you should start seeing data in the main page as backfill is completed. If you experience any issues, please don't hesitate to go to Splunk Answers and search for your issue, or ask a new question. Make sure to tag Splunk Activity, and you should get a fast response.

Release Notes

Version 2.2.12
May 19, 2017

Updated to work with Splunk 6.6! (Probably not backwards compatible with 6.5 or below..)

Version 2.2.11
Jan. 20, 2017

2.2.11 Release Notes:
* Added a default.meta -- turns out that Splunk_TA_nix app if renamed will overwrite the setup page, preventing people from getting to the app setup. Added an import statement to prevent that from recurring.
* Also adding 6.5 supportability. I'm not currently aware of any issues, though please let me know if you run into any.

Version 2.2.10
June 3, 2016

Fixing a permissions issue. Sorry everyone!

Version 2.2.9
May 29, 2016

Minor cleanup, preparing for certification. Added 6.4 support

Version 2.2.7
Dec. 8, 2015

2.2.7:
* Bug Fix where SearchHead wasn't defined in data population, which broke the several dashboards.
2.2:
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support!

Version 2.2.6
Dec. 2, 2015

2.2.6:
* Bug Fix for older systems without data populatin
2.2:
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support!

Version 2.2.5
Nov. 9, 2015

2.2.5:
* Major Bug Fix Bundle. 63 fixes! Primarily targeting distributed setups where things randomly didn't work, or the setup dashboard wouldn't load.
2.2:
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support!

Version 2.2.4
Sept. 28, 2015

2.2.4:
* New Icon
* Provisional 6.3 Support
2.2.3:
* Bug Fixes and Doc Fixes
2.2:
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support! (Someone should talk to the author about renaming that..)

Version 2.2.3
Sept. 22, 2015

2.2.3:
* Bug Fixes and Doc Fixes
2.2:
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support! (Someone should talk to the author about renaming that..)

Version 2.2.2
Sept. 17, 2015

2.2.2:
* Minor Bug Fix
2.2:
* 16+ misc bug fixes (thank you to everyone who contributed bug reports via the support request feature and via email!)
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support! (Someone should talk to the author about renaming that..)

Version 2.2.1
Sept. 3, 2015

Significant new release in three areas:
* 16+ misc bug fixes (thank you to everyone who contributed bug reports via the support request feature and via email!)
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support! (Someone should talk to the author about renaming that..)

Version 2.2
Aug. 29, 2015

Significant new release in three areas:
* 15+ misc bug fixes (thank you to everyone who contributed bug reports via the support request feature and via email!)
* Major improvements to the D3 Organizational Hierarchy chart, allowing you to search for a user directly, adding overlay, and more.
* Major re-working of the search data backfill. This has now been tested in a new largest organization ever, exceeding 1.6M Searches per day (16 searches launched per second!)
* Added logic to automatically recover from past bugs with the search data backfill -- upgrade and it should automatically work!

Please report bugs, request new features, or give feedback on how you're using this via the support request feature! Setup -> Support Request. Not just for support! (Someone should talk to the author about renaming that..)

Version 2.1
April 28, 2015

Significant new release including:
** Support! If you run into problems, submit a support request through the UI or at http://www.davidveuve.com/search_activity/
** Splunk 6.1 Compatability!
** New UI for Main Page! (Please let me know if it's better or worse)
** Overhauled Search Backfill Script! Should address many issues and improve supportability
** Overhauled TSIDX Troubleshooting dashboard! Easily troubleshoot issues (or submit a support request and I can troubleshoot)
** Support for non-standard splunkd ports!
** Many many bug fixes. Now you can submit bug fixes that will actually be tracked thanks to the support system

Version 2.0.1
Feb. 3, 2015

* Fixed a bug with the data collection script (would not collect data from the last 3 days)
* Fixed a bug with the packaging script (could cause data pulling before backfill was set)

Version 2.0
Jan. 28, 2015

* First Public Release

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