Making simple Splunk Nginx dashboard

As a DevOps guy I often do incident analysis, post deployment monitoring and usual logs checks. If you also is using Splunk as me when let me show for you few effective Splunk commands for Nginx logs monitoring.

Extract fileds

To make commands works Nginx log fields have to be extracted into variables.
Where are 2 ways to extract fields:

  1. By default Splunk recognise “access_combined” log format which is default format for Nginx. If it is your case congratulations nothing to do for you!
  2. For custom format of logs you will need to create regular expression. Splunk has built in user interface to extract fields or you can provide regular expression manually.

field_extractor

Website traffic over time and error rate

Unexpected spike in traffic or in error rate are always first thing to look for. Following command build a time chart with response codes. Codes 200/300 is your normal traffic and 400/500 is errors.

Website traffic in Splunk

Response time

How do you know if your website running slowly?
For response time I suggest to use 20, 85 and 95 percentile as metrics.
You also can think of average response time metric, but low average response time doesn’t show that website is OK, so I am not using that metric in the query.

Response time in Splunk

Traffic by IP

Checking which IPs are most popular is a good way to spot bad guys or misbehaving bot.

Traffic by IP with splunk

Top of error page

Looking for pages which produce most errors like 500 Internal Server Error or not found pages like 404? Following two queries give you exactly that information.
Top error pages

Top 40x error pages

TOP nginx error urls with Splunk

Number of timeouts(>30s) per upstream

When you are using Nginx as a proxy server it is very useful to see if any of upstreams are getting timeouts.
Timeouts could be a symptom for: slow application performance, not enough system resources or just upstream server is down.

Splunk get timeout nginx upstreams

Most time consuming upstreams

Most time consuming upstreams showing which of servers are already overloaded by requests and giving you a hint when application needs to be scaled

Most time consuming upstreams

In conclusion

Splunk functions like timechart, stats and top is your best friends for data aggregation. They are like unix tools – the more tools you know the more easier is to build powerful commands.