About Windows data and Splunk
About Windows data and Splunk
Splunk is an extensible, powerful tool. It can index many different kinds of Windows data. This data can be pretty much anything - a log file, a directory full of files, an event log channel, the Registry, or Active Directory.
Splunk provides several specialized inputs to monitor Windows data, including:
- Windows Event Logs: Splunk can monitor logs generated by the Windows Event Log service on any event log channel that is available on the machine. You can collect logs on the local machine, or you can gather log data remotely using either a universal forwarder or Windows Management Instrumentation (WMI).
- Performance monitoring: You can collect performance data on Windows machines with Splunk and then alert or report on that data. Any performance counter that is available in Performance Monitor is also available to Splunk. You can monitor performance locally or remotely through WMI or a universal forwarder.
- Remote monitoring over WMI: Splunk can use WMI to access event log and performance data on remote machines.
- Registry monitoring: You can monitor changes to the local Windows Registry using Splunk's built-in Registry monitoring capabilities. You can use a universal forwarder to gather Registry data from remote machines.
- Active Directory monitoring: Splunk can audit any changes to the Active Directory - including changes to user, group, machine, and group policy objects.
These specialized inputs are available only on Windows installations of Splunk. You also have available the standard set of Splunk inputs, such as "files and directories," the network monitoring inputs, and scripted inputs.
The Splunk App for Windows
The Splunk App for Windows provides pre-built data inputs, searches, reports, alerts, and dashboards for Windows server and desktop management. You can monitor, manage, and troubleshoot Windows operating systems from one place. The app includes scripted inputs for CPU, disk I/O, memory, event logs, configurations, and user data, plus a web-based setup UI for indexing Windows event logs. This free app makes getting started with Splunk on Windows easier.
The Windows app and Splunk's new performance metric collection features
The Splunk App for Windows currently does not make use of the new Windows performance monitor collection features available in the latest version of Splunk. While the app does work, and is supported, by default it will continue to gather local performance metrics using WMI.
If you want to use the new features, or you're using a universal forwarder to send data with the default performance monitoring data collections to an instance that's running the app, then you'll need to update the searches within the app to reflect the performance monitoring collections you have defined.
Initial considerations for deploying Splunk on Windows
When installing and deploying Splunk on Windows, consider the following:
- Authentication. To perform any operations on remote Windows machines in your network, Splunk needs the appropriate access to your Active Directory domain or forest. This means that Splunk must run as a user with those credentials. It is best practice to have these credentials available before proceeding with any kind of deployment. Review "Considerations for deciding how to monitor remote Windows data" for additional information about how best to accomplish this task.
- Disk bandwidth. Splunk indexers require lots of disk I/O bandwidth, particularly when indexing large amounts of data. You must pay particular attention to systems that have any program that intermediates between Splunk and the operating system installed. This includes anti-virus software. Make sure that you configure any installed anti-virus software to avoid monitoring Splunk directories or processes, as such scans will significantly reduce performance.
- Shared servers. Before installing Splunk on a server running other services, read "Hardware capacity planning for your Splunk deployment" in the Installation manual. This is particularly important if you plan to install Splunk on a domain controller, or a computer running memory-intensive services such as Exchange, SQL Server or a virtual host server.
The most efficient way to gather data from any Windows server is to install universal forwarders on the machines from which you want to gather data. Universal forwarders have a small footprint and use very limited resources. In some cases, such as Registry monitoring, you must use a forwarder, as you cannot poll Registry changes remotely.