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Logging DevOps Tools

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Introduction:

In this article, we will go through the importance of logging for any kind of an application, and what does it take to have a good logging framework put in place in your DevOps pipeline. We will discuss about quite a few tools today and also see what advantages these tools bring to the table, if they are put in your DevOps pipeline. We will also see the better patterns that we ought to follow for providing all the necessary details for someone who tries to understand if there are any issues and at the same time we will also try to understand how not to overdo something of these kinds where the crucial business data gets spilled all over your application logs using any such log frameworks.

Logging is a trivial part of the whole software development process, can sometimes be ignored or given the least priority. But let me tell you, from where (the experience and the background) I come, it means a lot to understand what caused an error and what are the sequence of events that caused this. This information is very crucial as the second occurrences of these kinds of issues can be comfortably be suppressed / resolved, if there is a right tool that takes up the responsibility of getting these details to the concerned people. Having said that, let us not delay any further and try to get through the applications / tools and also see their advantages as such.

Related Article: Introduction To DevOps Tools

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Types of Logging DevOps Tools:

With that brief introduction into DevOps and also after understanding the importance of a logging framework, let us now take a look at the available software tools that can suite your DevOps pipeline. We will try to introduce you to the product and then also provide some of the practical advantages that are identified while using the tool as such. Without any further delay, let us get going with the various tools that we are going to analyze today:

1. Papertrail:
Papertrail is a centralized log management tool that helps in tracking down customer problems, error messages and application requests. It is a tool that is aimed to reduce the burden on the safety compliance side and also aimed to save business time, money. The same features are also provided in the mobile versions of iOS and Android as well for the businesses to check on health and safety requirements. The tool enables us to create and manage thousands of records with utmost ease and also in very lesser amounts of time when compared to the manual inputs of the same.

The platform can act as a hub to almost all the requests as like safety inventory, to-do lists and inspection records and etc. Alongside to that, the tool also handles to schedule the mandatory inspections by recording and also by sharing the useful information that it gathers with the respective teams. It has the ability to pass on the responsibility to the concerned teams with little customization from our end either in the configuration or extending the capabilities of the tool itself to make every of its attempts accountable. Folder access can also be restricted, making it easier to manage users and teams.

Following are some of the advantages of using Papertrail, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • One of the biggest advantages of this tool is its Mobility, as it allows users to update their safety records from anywhere using their mobile devices also.
  • The iOS and Android apps work offline too along with the feature RFID, barcode scanning and photo services.
  • The tool allows reminders on the forthcoming reminders and notifications can also be sent to the users as per our customization.
  • Provision to generate reports, certificates and the like pretty quick and easy as well
  • The whole safety compliance process is taken to the next level as the traditional paper based records can totally be surpassed and all the necessary details are digitally available.
  • This tool has proven record of being successful in healthcare, telecom, adventure and emergency services.

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2. Scalyr:
Now bringing our discussion to the next DevOps tool from the exhaustive list is Scalyr, it is a log management service which is capable of aggregating tons of loads of data per day and at the same time searching humongous amounts of data per second. In very simplistic terms, Scalyr is said to be a platform that is used for high-speed server monitoring and log management. The app has been brought to us (for common public) from the makers of Google Docs, and with it they’ve brought us the speed and ease of use to this robust server monitoring tool.

Scalyr quickly finishes all the queries fired to it within seconds and the plus point to this is that you don’t really have to go through the pain of learning a new language. Log aggregrator module of Scalyr takes up the responsibility of collecting logs (application, web, process, system) and manages their volume by filtering for all sensitive and noisy logs before these are processed to the server. The system then analyzes this data and summarizes the same to the end users as interactive reports, visualizations.

Following are some of the advantages of using Scalyr, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Users do not really have to bother about the infrastructure for monitoring and collecting data, hence removes the extra burden of any setup (at all).
  • Each of the Scalyr agents’ installation automatically takes up the responsibility of registering itself and collects logs, system metrics.
  • You do not really have to configure Scalyr for collecting data all by itself, but bring in your own data (from various other sources) and upload these either using ‘fluentd’ or using Scalyr’s API to define monitors the servers directly.
  • Your search gets lightning fast and more searches per second (to be very precise).
  • Scalyr provides a wonderful opportunity to make sense of large amounts of data into clearer and simple but yet interactive reports.

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3. Logz.io:
Logz.io is an open source log analysis platform with a combination of features from ELK (Elasticsearch, Logstash, Kibana). It is a simple, secure and a scalable service on the cloud for Organizations to take advantage from. It also provides advanced enterprise grade enhancements and features over and above the ELK stack such as the alerting, user control, archiving and pre-baked Kibana visualizations that are tailor made for specific log types. One of the best features that this tool comes up with is the ease in setting it up. It has the provision and also allows to ship logs as many as the Organizations feel that they are needed to secure the data, accessibility to the data generated and also on providing high availability.

Logz.io as a tool also applies advanced machine learning techniques to reveal critical and uncovered errors and exceptions in the real time along with actionable data for faster resolution. The tool also provides a range of analytics tools and optimization tools which help Organizations reduce the overall logging expenses as the data is tend to grow on progression.

Following are some of the advantages of using Logz.io, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • One of the greatest advantages with this tool is the ease with which it can be setup custom alerts based on customer needs.
  • The other advantage that one can appreciate is that there is no need for us to bother about any infrastructure related issues on the ELK stack anymore with Logz.io.
  • The tool provides cognitive and application insights along with an ability to analyze data manually.
  • Has the provision to provide a read only dashboard with all the required insights for a customer to take necessary action points from.
  • The tool in itself is very fast and the APIs provided are excellent.
  • Search as a feature works faster and quicker with Logz.io than on Kibana.

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4. Fluentd:
Fluentd is an open source data collector, which lets you unify the data collection and consumption for a better use and understanding of data. Fluentd attempts to solve the problem of collecting the data from various sources and also to unify the formats of all the log files that are generated by various systems of the whole architecture. There are two things that Fluentd does in order to solve the problem as explained earlier – It provides a unified logging layer to separate data sources from backend systems and the next to provide a plugin based architecture that allows us to pretty much do whatever we want with those logs. 

Firstly with the unified logging it provides a single standard format for logs (in the JSON format) and secondly with the additional plugins there is a possibility to customize the view even further. With this, we now get machines to handle logs and add the necessary intelligence that helps in deciding when human intervention is required. There is always a possibility to deploy the same in a distributed system to handle all the log requirements.

Following are some of the advantages of using Fluentd, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Most of the performance sensitive parts are written in C and the others are written in Ruby with the help of wrappers providing the flexibility and also extensibility to add additional functionalites.
  • Fluentd is scalable and reliable.
  • Fluentd tags data and also routes data based on tags.
  • Provides a lot of client libraries for languages such as Java, PHP, Python, Ruby and etc.
  • Stores the logs as in a unified log format as JSON (by Fluentd) and tries to structure all the data in JSON as much as possible. This allows Fluentd to unify all the facets of processing log data.

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5. TIBCO LogLogic:
TIBCO LogLogic is a Log Management Intelligence technology that shows a way to universal visibility and control over your data. Comes along with a suite of different products that cater to different requirements from the Tibco suite of products, shines its way on Production when used in conjunction with them. Having said that, there is a tremendous amount of value that is trapped within these logs and machine generated data in the IT purview. Hence the need of a tool which understands the sensitivity of the data that is being handled and also the care that it should be taking.

Tibco LogLogic log management intelligence helps us to unlock and uncover the unexplored areas and also the value of all such data irrespective of the data being generated physically, virtually or on cloud. All of the data can be stored in a centralized location or place, leverage the same to gain actionable details from it. This details can be further provided to Tibco, if LogLogic is working with other products from the same suite of products or to 3rd party tools with which is working with.

Following are some of the advantages of using TIBCO LogLogic, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Using Tibco LogLogic with the same suite of applications is the best advantage that one can see because of in house built features like Search JDBC driver support for Tibco Spotfire.
  • Provides its support to Universal Lossless Data Protocol (ULDP) library for connection between other appliances and LogLogic for log transfers.
  • Provides a varied number of options on the Advanced Search capabilities.
  • Provides a couple of latest and advanced dashboards, widgets.
  • Provides advanced aggregation and correlation.
  • It is scalable and is built for high performance.
  • It has its ability to run on standard hardware and virtual platforms.

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6. vRealize Log Insight:
vRealize Log Insight is yet another open source tool that delivers heterogeneous and highly scalable log management tool. It comes with intuitive, actionable dashboards, analytics and broad third party tool extensibility features as well. The tool in itself provides deep operational visibility and also provides quicker troubleshooting across all physical, virtual and also on all cloud environments. vRealize Log Insight has the ability to add structure to your unstructured log data and also at the same time promotes the rapid troubleshooting process without even having any prior knowledge on the data itself.

Following are some of the advantages of using vRealize Log Insight, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Provides better and quicker troubleshooting and root cause analysis.
  • Creates a defined structure from the unstructured data.
  • Provides a boost in the operational expenses cut.
  • Provides ways and means to monitor and manage your machine generated data better.
  • Provides ways and means to scale these processes further.
  • Provides an intuitive GUI and also eases the deployment process as well.
  • Provides wonderful integration capabilities with vRealize Operations.
  • Provides built-in support for vSphere knowledge as well.

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7. Sentry:
Sentry which was initiated as a side project is now an open source web based solution that serves the purpose of a real time logging and data aggregation platform. It provides a medium and a platform where in it monitors errors and displays them when and where and who has introduced it. It does all of this without completely relying on the user’s feedback. It provides support to languages and frameworks like Ruby, Python, JavaScript, Java, Django, iOS, .NET and many more.

Raven, Sentry’s Java Client supports most of the existing major frameworks like Log4J, Log4J2 and Logback with Slf4J and also java.util.logging. There is also a provision to send events directly to Sentry which then helps in logging them for us. Setting up Sentry for Java with Logback for example needs to have certain number of dependencies to be handled via Maven or manually and with that you are good to go.

Following are some of the advantages of using Sentry, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Setting up the system takes less than 5 minutes and also can be done using with the least amount of code as well.
  • Sentry works pretty smooth and quick enough to save on productive time for other issues.
  • Bug tracking system built for the community is pretty neat.
  • Provides a provision to configure notifications, either via email or push messages.
  • Working on more than one project, not to worry – Sentry keeps you covered as it has the ability to identify issues even from multiple projects as well.

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8. Logstash:
Logstash is a centralized data processing unit of all types which enables processing of any kind of data from any kind of source at all. It also takes up the responsibility to normalize the varying schemas and formats from various other incoming systems. It extends to the custom log formats pretty quickly and also has an ability to add in plugins for custom data sources. There is every possibility for us to cleanse and democratize the data for diverse needs such as downstream analytics or visualization use cases. Capabilities of Logstash are not just limited to log collection and can be extended way beyond that use case.

Following are some of the advantages of using Logstash, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Use of regular expression based log parsers works as a charm in identifying issues before hand and also helps developers fixing these bugs soon.
  • The GROK filter plugin has built-in regular expressions that support the common software log patterns, which helps you to get started quickly.
  • The trio of Logstash, Kibana and Elasticsearch works as a charm as it provides a holistic view of the logs and based on this, your actual application debugging starts from here on the identified issue points.
  • The tool is supported by a very supportive community who come up with ample number of useful plugins.
  • Showcases very good performance while collecting and processing logs that are bigger in size.
  • One other advantage is the simplicity in defining the configuration of an ETL job and has numerous plugins to support such kind.
  • As it is an open source took, it is simple enough to extend it for custom log format implementations or add plugins for custom data sources.

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9. Sumo Logic:
SumoLogic, yet another tool that can be classified into tools that brings in power and mettle into the DevOps chain of tools. It enables enterprise to build analytical power that helps transform daily operations into more intelligent business decisions going further. All in all, in layman terms provides the artificial intelligence into your orthodox applications.  This tool simplifies the way we collect the logs and machine generated data and analyze them further in order to gain deeper visibility across the whole application and also there by on your full infrastructure stack. With the help of this tool, there is every possibility for us to accelerate the modern day application delivery, monitoring and troubleshooting in real time and thereby improving security and compliance processes.

Following are some of the advantages of using Sumo Logic, let us now take at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Makes the whole process of setting up log aggregation pretty easy and makes it quick as well. Over and above that, it also allows plenty of integration hooks and configurable agents to cling on to as well.
  • Ability to review logs from disparate and distributed systems using a proprietary query language is simple enough but gets complex on customized requirements.
  • Provision to query the logs from all applications and dependencies to monitor system health and also to debug severe issues.
  • Log collection is a cake walk either through rSyslog or through agents.

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10. Loggly:
Loggly is a cloud based log management service that is aimed to provide application intelligence delivered to you applications on Cloud. Having said that, it is also classified as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution for your entire log management and data management. With the help of this service, you will be able to bring logs from the entire infrastructure to a single place and perform a tracking activity or an analysis altogether. Since that Loggly is a managed service altogether, there is no need of any further hardware or software requirements from the customer’s end and provides with a provision to scale basis on the customer operations.

Loggly is a best suited tool that fits for technical operations, development, customer service and even for product management teams. Anybody who wants to gain some insights using just the log data might want to use this service named loggly. Most of the top used uses of this service are troubleshooting issues, application issues, transaction correlation, deployment monitoring, application analytics and alerting.

Following are some of the advantages of using Loggly, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • One of the biggest advantage using this tool is that it is very quick to deploy on the cloud. Looking at its architecture, you should be surprised as it was designed from very early to live in a multi-tenant cloud solution.
  • Provides configuration options for agentless logging either using syslog or by using HTTP APIs.
  • Provision of focused features on issue troubleshooting.
  • One of the other features that it provides, is the “View Surrounding Events” option that allows all the events before and after a specific event to be found out.
  • Provides a built in feature that enables data archival to AWS S3 and also provides AWS integration.
  • Provides yet another built-in feature of saved searches and provides good notifications.
  • Pretty neat on the UI and is clean as well, provides an aggregated view of log entries on search.
  • Provides a provision to view the raw search data and also can be visualized with various graph styles.
  • Alert creation and derived fields are easy to use, which finally become powerful.

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11. Graylog:
Graylog is an open source centralized log management tool that can be comfortably called an alternative to Splunk. Graylog captures, stores real time search and analysis against loads of machine data (that gets generated from any part of your IT infrastructure). Graylog’s another feature is the Audit Log capability, where in it records and stores all the actions that are performed by a user or administrator which do make changes to your Graylog system. There is a provision of an archiving functionality in Graylog that allows to store everything older than 30 days on a slow storage and allows only to re-import in to the Graylog system when it is really required.

Following are some of the advantages of using Graylog, let us now take a look at each and every one of them:
Advantages:

  • Graylog is very easy to configure and very easy to use as well.
  • Graylog can easily integrate with your existing LDAP user directories with utmost ease.
  • Graylog when configured with the SIEM connectors, it has the ability to log all the data from various sources from your business network.
  • It is a multi-platform compliant which in turn means that it captures almost everything from any system that your eyes can reach.
  • There is a provision to customize dashboards based on our monitoring requirements.
  • Graylog is an open source tool and also is the huge community of users supporting it as well.
  • Provides customization features and also an ability to capture log streams during issue troubleshooting.
  • The tool is neutral to all vendors and it’s easy to use GUI increases the product value as well.

Conclusion:

In this article we have seen a brief introduction into DevOps as a process and also the importance of a logging tool in the DevOps pipeline, as it gets tougher and tougher to find out the exact root causes for issues when your application grows bigger. We have also tried to understand what applications or tools can fit in, in this area of DevOps and what are the advantages that each of these tools bring to the table. Hope you have got all the information that you were looking for, from this article itself but it is suggested to visit the parent websites for the specific product that you feel like adding it in your DevOps pipeline for all the other required details.

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