Best Tools to Improve Your Cloud Log Management

By: SolarWinds on March 25, 2020


Today, centralized log management has become a common practice for supporting IT operations and mission-critical business applications. However, as IT environments evolve, log management practices also need to catch up. Today, most IT teams have migrated a significant portion of their operational workloads to the cloud, which has become the defacto platform for innovation and growth. Naturally, the teams are also moving their log management to the cloud for its obvious benefits (mentioned below).

Benefits of Cloud-Based Logging

  • Cloud log management offers higher ease of provisioning
  • Cloud-based logging infrastructure scales up easily to meet spikes in log volumes
  • Organizations can easily switch between different “logging as a service” providers, without vendor lock-in hassles
  • Cloud logging services offer higher resilience or automated failovers and failbacks to ensure uninterrupted operations
  • Cloud-based log management tools can save numerous hours in maintenance and configuration
  • Cloud logging provides higher retention periods, simpler compliance management, and a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) than similar on-premises setups

Cloud logging is also more suited for modern IT needs as traditional on-premises setups aren’t equally equipped to monitor distributed cloud workloads. It isn’t easy to troubleshoot and debug containerized microservices based applications using traditional tools. The on-premises tools for monitoring and analyzing logs often get sluggish as log volumes rise in hybrid cloud environments. This is why most organizations are adopting cloud-based logging solutions. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the best tools available in the market for managing your logs in the cloud.

Best Tools for Managing Logs in the Cloud

SolarWinds Papertrail

SolarWinds Papertrail is a cloud-based log management tool to help detect and resolve infrastructure and application issues in real time. The tool is easy to set up in a few simple steps and aggregates logs from a wide range of devices, servers, applications, and cloud services. Papertrail helps you get full control of your IT environment, tail log files, save important searches, navigate to events during a specific time, set up alerts, and more. You can use filters to focus on specific messages. The tool also supports TLS encryption for secure transfer of logs. Papertrail is ideal for teams seeking real-time visibility, powerful command-line tools, and faster search with less noise to monitor their live environments. You can sign up for a free trial or check out various plans as per your organization’s requirements here.

Logz.io

Logz.io is a fully managed cloud-based log management and analytics service built over Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana (ELK), and Grafana. The service allows you to leverage open-source flexibility, with the reliability and ease of management you expect from a commercial solution. You can easily integrate the tool with your DevOps setup. The tool claims to employ AI-based algorithms for analyzing massive log volumes, correlate events, and offer real-time alerts and insights. While the tool offers simpler UI, faster performance, and a high degree of automation, some features for account management are only available in the enterprise version. Pricing could also be a concern for small organizations.

Logentries/InsightOps

Logentries is another cloud-based log management solution (now acquired by Rapid7), which can simplify your log search, visualization, and analysis of machine data and logs. With Logentries, you can use both agentless and agent-based methods for log ingestion. It also supports in-application logging from Java, iOS, Android, HTML5, Python, and many other popular programming languages. Faster search over any kind of structured, unstructured, or semi-structured data is the USP of this solution. The solution also offers built-in tagging, alerting, and reporting templates, which simplifies log management and analytics. The tool is a part of Rapid7’s InsightOps offering.

Graylog

Graylog is an open-source tool based on multi-threaded Elasticsearch, which enables faster analysis of massive log volumes. It is a powerful log analyzer with an intuitive user interface and supports all leading operating systems including Ubuntu, Debian, CentOS, and SUSE Linux. You can provision it over a Windows virtual machine or Amazon AWS. The free, open-source version of the tool is a good fit for small teams. It offers scalable centralized log collection, graphical log analysis, alerts, a free marketplace for extensions, and many other useful features for log management. With the enterprise version, you can also unlock additional features, including access to correlation engine, audit logs, scheduled reporting, among others.

Datadog

Datadog is a comprehensive log management solution offering infrastructure and application monitoring with a wide coverage of events and metrics across the DevOps stack. The tool simplifies log aggregation and provides seamless navigation between different trace IDs, metrics, and events. Its automated log parser (for JSON format) and tagging features help filter traffic and find useful information easily. The tool also offers visual dashboards, alerts, and reports to expedite troubleshooting. Further, you can use Datadog APIs to integrate with AWS, Slack, PagerDuty, and many other tools. A major highlight of Datadog is it offers several plans tailored for different IT needs. For example, you can start with a basic infrastructure monitoring plan and upgrade to application performance monitoring (APM) and distributed tracing, the highest-priced plan.

XpoLog

XpoLog is another popular centralized log management solution, which uses a wide range of pre-configured connectors to collect logs from different sources. The tool has an intuitive user interface and sets up in minutes. It offers automated parsing allowing you to extract useful information from your logs systematically. The tool supports common search operators and allows you to search through the logs without using any proprietary query language. Its AI-based analytics helps you discover threats and anomalies quickly. The tool also gives you several out-of-the-box templates for creating visual reports and dashboards. You can get a free evaluation version of XpoLog, offering lifetime validity with a 0.5 GB/day limit.

The Way Forward

We’ve briefly defined the major highlights of some of the best tools for cloud log management. However, before you compare the features of different tools, you should get some understanding of your baseline logging requirements. Some tools offer a wide range of security information and event management (SIEM) features, whereas others focus on specific needs such as log ingestion, parsing, search, and alerts. This distinction also affects their pricing plans. Solutions such as Papertrail offer better value in case you’re looking for a log management solution. Being a cloud-based tool, Papertrail is easy to set up and provides flexible pricing to suit your log management needs. Its features like live tail, powerful search, and an intuitive event viewer, solve immediate log analysis needs for teams working in live environments. The tool also integrates easily with your preferred service (email, SMS, Slack, etc.) for alerts. We recommend a free trial of Papertrail to meet your routine and advanced logging needs.