Logging as a Service: Benefits of Centralizing Log Data

By SolarWinds on April 13, 2020


Today every organization has invested in the cloud for higher agility, scalability, computing performance, and more. With self-service portals offering easier provisioning, cloud-based services and platforms have reduced operational overheads on IT teams significantly. Further, with cloud, organizations can choose pay-as-you-go plans without making any heavy upfront investments, get full visibility into their spending, and achieve a lower Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). It’s not surprising that these benefits have prompted organizations to shift a majority of their IT operations to cloud-based services. Logging as a Service is one such service.

What is Logging as a Service?

logging as a service

Logging as a Service (LaaS), as the name suggests, is a SaaS-based centralized logging service offered by many vendors. With LaaS, organizations can collect or aggregate all their system, application, and cloud-based logs in a centralized server in the cloud. In addition to transmission and storage of logs in a central repository, cloud logging providers also offer a range of services to streamline search and analysis, visualization, alerting, and archival of logs.

The Need for Centralized Log Management

In IT setups, networking devices (routers, firewalls, intrusion detection systems, etc.), servers (Apache, Windows, Linux, etc.), workstations, databases, and applications produce logs. These logs provide a time-stamped record of events, which help in error-detection, troubleshooting, and performance improvements. When troubleshooting a performance issue, an IT admin can directly log in to the system or use SSH to access these logs. However, with this approach, IT teams in large organizations can struggle to find the root cause of issues, as accessing logs individually from different devices takes a lot of time and effort. This is why organizations often create a centralized server, where logs from all sources are collected for unified log monitoring.

Why Use LaaS for Centralized Log Management?

However, today organizations are spread across multiple geographies and also have a hybrid environment consisting of various on-premise and cloud-based resources. Very often, IT teams are dealing with microservices and ephemeral containers. In such environments, logs multiply rapidly. Traditional log viewers and log analyzers are not equipped to handle massive log volumes in these environments. While some large organizations rely on the open-source ELK-stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana) for log management, configuring and managing the logging setup becomes increasingly complex over a period. Lack of visibility and control over the costs involved in maintaining the open-source logging setup becomes a major impediment. This is where LaaS offers a way forward. Here are some of the benefits of using LaaS for centralizing log data:

Simplified Log Management

As discussed earlier, being a SaaS-based service, LaaS doesn’t require teams to invest time and effort in creating an elaborate logging setup. With ready infrastructure, LaaS allows organizations to start log aggregation and log analysis within minutes of subscribing to the service. In many cases, organizations can stream logs to the centralized server without installing any agent. Further, teams can easily switch to a higher plan at any time to meet their growing requirements for log storage and log analysis.

Higher Reliability and Scalability

LaaS is a proven approach for centralized logging in hybrid cloud environments. With a cloud logging service, teams can stream their logs to the centralized server in real-time, which scales up quickly to meet an unpredictable surge in log volumes. Further, most Logging as a Service providers offer secure transmission, storage, and access to logs, following the industry standards. Organizations can also control log retention policies of all your logs centrally and archive older logs for a longer period as per your organization’s requirements.

Faster Search and Analysis

As discussed, in modern IT environments, logs snowball in no time. Log viewers and log analyzers designed for traditional on-premise setups can get sluggish while processing log data in such scenarios. IT teams have to wait longer for search results, which is not only a nuisance but can also cause major damage in live environments. On the other hand, LaaS providers offer automated parsing, indexing, and distributed search and analytics to process search queries over a large volume of logs quickly. Some LaaS providers also offer advanced visualization for pattern recognition, trend analysis, and anomaly detection. These features help in getting to the root cause of issues faster.

How to Select a Logging as a Service?

When it comes to evaluating LaaS options, there are lots of vendors in the market, offering both basic and advanced log management capabilities. Advanced solutions like Splunk, LogDNA, and Sumo Logic are ideal for setting up a Network Operations Center (NOC) or Security Operations Center (SOC) in large organizations. These solutions offer several advanced features for Security Information and Event Management (SIEM), AIOps, and microservices observability. However, getting started with these services can be a bit challenging as they have a steep learning curve.

However, if your organization is seeking immediate help in enhancing its log management, you should explore SolarWinds Papertrail. SolarWinds Papertrail is a straightforward cloud-based logging service, which simplifies log management, search, and analysis. You can set up your logging and start search and analysis with Papertrail within minutes. For real-time visibility into production environments, Papertrail offers the live tail feature. Its event viewer is highly intuitive, allowing up and down scrolling, and pause and play interactions. The event feed is updated in real-time and presented in an infinite scroll. Administrators can color-code the messages and isolate the noise to focus on events of interest. Further, Papertrail integrates with popular notification services (Slack, HipChat, etc.) for alerts. You can learn more about Papertrail’s features and advantages here.

Conclusion

We have discussed the benefits of centralized log management and how Logging as a Service benefits organizations. As logging requirements for organizations can vary, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to log management. However, based on user reviews and our evaluation, we have recommended Papertrail as a viable cloud-based solution for log management. Further, Papertrail is a part of the SolarWinds APM suite, which offers advanced monitoring with metrics and traces. In the future, if you want to leverage metrics and traces for monitoring, you can easily integrate Papertrail with SolarWinds’ tools like AppOptics and Pingdom. Sign up for a free trial of Papertrail to explore its features and advantages now!

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