Collecting logs from Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert and sending them to Splunk could be a complex task due to this rather unique combination of log source and SIEM. In this post, we will take a look at how you can forward log data from Process Expert to Splunk using NXLog.
Process Expert is a scalable multi-engineering environment and distributed control system (DCS) from Schneider Electric. It is based on a client-server architecture that can easily adapt to the needs and scope of your plant. Process Expert provides numerous advantages, substantially reducing maintenance and engineering costs by centralizing its hardware and software configuration. It does not only reduce human error but also increases plant efficiency by simplifying installation and system design. Due to its unique model and multiuser environment, collaborating on projects is more concurrent, giving engineers the power to work on various tasks simultaneously.
The main components of Process Expert work together seamlessly to play an integral role in monitoring plant operation. The system server manages system data and client requests. The operation clients provide a user-friendly interface for monitoring system components during runtime, while the Engineering clients provide a user interface to access specific software resources. Virtual machines offer software participant services, and the database stores and manages user data.
Process Expert is used in the oil and gas, power generation, chemicals, water, and mining industries.
Process Expert provides valuable information about its operation from the logs it generates. Some of these logs are available through Windows Event Log and network monitoring, but most of them are in the format of flat files.
Due to the critical nature and scope of the systems Process Expert controls, there is no room for error. Its stable, uninterrupted operation is crucial for plant safety. However, this valuable information can sometimes remain hidden in the logs it collects due to excessive log noise. Another challenge is the lack of consistent log formats. The ability to parse data from various log formats is an absolute necessity.
NXLog Enterprise Edition is a lightweight, modular log collection tool capable of tackling the most complex cases log collection may pose. Due to its rich features, it can read almost any log format and parse fields to produce structured data for further processing. It is the perfect tool for monitoring and collecting Process Expert logs for these reasons.
- Collecting Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert logs from Windows Event Log
Windows Event Log is the logging subsystem on the Windows platform. The logs generated by Process Expert include the Data Access log, sysInfo log, Servertrace log, and Communication log. NXLog can easily read and collect these events by specifying a Process Expert source name or event ID from the Application channel of Windows Event Log. A special, lightweight module that can natively read data from WEL provides this functionality.
- Collecting Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert logs from file
Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert file-based logs include Server log, ServerTrace log, Engineering client log, and Operation log. These logs are stored in the
C:\Users\<Username>\AppData\Roaming\Schneider Electric\Process Expert 2020 R2\Logsdirectory but do not follow a consistent formatting scheme. NXLog’s rich set of features can efficiently read and parse such file-based logs and reliably forward them to your preferred SIEM solution.
- Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert network monitoring
NXLog can passively monitor network traffic and generate logs for most network protocols. This ability to log network communication from Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert, and integrated devices, can provide another valuable log source.
NXLog can also normalize and aggregate Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert logs. With its ability to collect logs from literally any file, in any format, NXLog is ideally suited for integrating with Process Expert’s wide variety of log types and file formats.
For more information on integrating NXLog with Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert, see the Schneider Electric EcoStruxure Process Expert integration guide.
The above-mentioned log sources and the features NXLog provides, all play an important role when normalizing logs in order to be accepted by Splunk.
Splunk is a platform for data collection, searching, indexing, and data visualization. It accepts logs forwarded via TLS, TCP, UDP or HTTP and can ingest both structured or unstructured data from a multitude of sources.
- Generic structured logs
To send logs via HTTP, Splunk’s HTTP event collector handles HTTP requests with either raw data payloads or formatted as JSON objects. To send logs via TCP or UDP you will need to set up the appropriate data input and specify the transmission protocol. To do this, use the Splunk dashboard to set up a new data input following their configuration guidelines. Alternatively, to send logs via TLS, you will need to edit your configuration files to generate the required security certificates.
- Specific structured logs
Windows Event Log data can be forwarded to Splunk in XML format by installing the Splunk Add-on for Windows version 6.0.0. To reliably forward SICAM PAS/PQS logs to Splunk, all you need to do is specify Splunk’s network socket address along with the path and file names of the log files in your NXLog configuration file.
For more information on how to configure NXLog and send logs to Splunk, please visit the Splunk section in the NXLog User Guide.