Centralizing Logs

Log files are a record of important events and transactions from all your IT equipment, applications, and networks that helps in identifying and troubleshooting problems that arise.

Logging is something that application developers, system administrators, and IT security teams cannot do without for a variety of IT tasks. With the development of new IT movements like DevOps, it has become increasingly cumbersome to retrieve logs from different locations like servers, applications, network devices and other peripherals for merging them into a single file that can be looked at.

This problem is overcome by centralization of logs which involves sending all logs to a single server for easy aggregation and access.

Centralization of logs is done using a variety of tools that collect logs into a single secured application that can be signed in from anywhere. These tools also provide alerts whenever there are issues. Additionally, they aggregate logs so that you cannot debug anything that is not already centralized.

Recommended Read : Important Logs to monitor to identify issues in the Linux system

Also Read : Analyzing APACHE logs in CLI (& GUI) using GoAccess

Besides keeping a good log history, they have good visual indicators like graphs that make it easy to detect abnormal behavior. With these tools, you can send Apache, .NET, Java, PHP and Python among others to a centralized location.

So, which tools are popular for centralizing logs?

Logging from the application code

When logging directly from your application, you can forward the logs directly to a logging management solution. For Java logging, you can use frameworks like log4j, Logback and SLF4J or Django for Python logging.

Cloud-based log management tools

There are a number of popular cloud-based log management services which include Splunk Cloud, Logentries, Loggly, Papertrail, and Sumo Logic among others. While these tools have their own strengths and weaknesses, they generally offer powerful searches, visualization and pre-packaged content for use-cases together with good reporting capabilities.

Splunk is common for its built-in alerting and reporting capabilities, high scalability, configurable charts and dashboards as well as real-time search, analysis and visualization.

Those who need a tool that works with multiple PaaS and IaaS, custom tag logs, aggregated live tail search and support for a diverse set of programming languages go for Logentries.

On the other hand, Loggly offers text-based logging from any source as well as unlimited custom dashboards based on any search.

Papertrail which aggregates data from text log files and syslog offers real-time functionality from the browser, command line or API, together with custom alerts on any event occurrence although with no built-in visualization of data.

On-premise log management tools

When you have an on-premise self-managed logging solution, you can deploy it to centralized logging software using a number of tools. Popular ones include Graylog, Splunk, Logstash, Kafka and Fluentd among others.

Centralizing Logs

Graylog is free, open source and performs just like Splunk although with support for only GELF and syslog. Fluentd is popular for its performance and flexible plugin system even though it has no built-in visualizations.

Server logging daemons

You can also centralize logs by sending them through your server logging daemon like syslog-ng, nxlog and rsyslog among others. Rsyslog is popular for its great performance, good security and custom development. Syslog-ng is excellent for DevOps with its flexible scaling, plugin support, and patternDB functionality.

Centralized logging systems are many and diverse but they all help you to save time and effort. Some are more popular than others depending on their performance, price, features, and reliability among other things. When looking for a log centralizing solution, it is important to ensure that it meets your specific needs, has good security, works with multiple formats, connects to all areas of your organization as well as aggregate all your logs in a central location.

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