When the number of logs generated every minute is so massive, finding that one exact piece of information that you need at a given time can be a painfully long process. How can you extricate yourself from this jungle of never-ending files to find the metaphorical needle in the haystack? Logs can be centralized and analyzed from operating systems, applications, and networks through log analysis tools without learning a complex query language. Log management tools are a key element in any enterprise workflow, but it’s hard to find the right one that is responsive, scalable, and flexible enough for your specific digital ecosystem. Among the many log analysis tools out there, how do you choose the right one for your business?
Understanding Your Needs
Different businesses use log analysis tools for different purposes. Many enterprises mostly use log files to search for bugs, spot unknown or hidden errors, and understand the reasons for potential crashes. Instead of spending a ton of time scouring through huge amounts of plain text log files, they rely on log management tools to help them find the bug and squash it ASAP. Others use them to sift through all their data in search of actionable insights.
Log analysis can be used to derive informative metrics that help analysts understand what happened in a system, monitor its activities, and optimize its performance. This data can be used for marketing purposes, to plan advertising campaigns, and increase conversions by observing users’ behavior. Log analysis tools are also a terrific weapon in the arsenal of any security team since they allow for safeguarding access to vulnerable data, monitor IoT activity, and detect and prevent fraud.
A Log Analysis Solution for Every Type of Use Case
To know which specific log analysis tool to choose, you must first understand the unique needs of your enterprise. What is your company’s use case?
- Security - Identify all threats in the blink of an eye
- Compliance & Audit - Cost-effectively store all your logs and quickly respond to all queries
- IT Operations - Keep your error logs and your entire infrastructure close at hand
- DevOps - Use responsive log management to work in cloud and elastic environments
- MSSP - Harness comprehensive solutions that integrate many devices to collect data from all networks
If your enterprise is a software as a service (SaaS) business, your first and foremost priority should be to keep your service and website active at all times. Service downtime is, in fact, a serious threat for all online enterprises that must be avoided at all times, but for SaaS companies, it may cause you irreparable damage. A huge crash will cost you more than just sales and customers since it may negatively affect your reputation as well.
Solid log management software can help you test and troubleshoot your updates before they’re rolled out, and check if the new features are properly functional. It helps you spot and track errors before your users find them, or before they cause any service disruption. Therefore, a log analysis tool tailored for SaaS companies must be extremely agile and fast-reacting. It should be able to provide real-time insights into server-side processes so you can react quickly if something unexpected occurs. You want it to be as easy as possible. The last thing you want to see is your IT team struggling with a clunky interface while they try to pinpoint the root cause of your system issues.
Startups and SMBs
Small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) and startups do not usually enjoy the larger budgets that bigger firms can handle. Pricing is always an issue, but in due time, you may have access to better resources. A scalable solution that is flexible enough to be expanded through a predictable model allows you to tailor its function to your momentary needs and growth perspectives.
Open-source software that can be downloaded for free may save you the hassle of paying for renting the service, but will leave you in charge of all the management costs. This approach is a great idea if your hardware framework is solid enough already, otherwise it may lead to higher upfront costs. Cloud-based solutions are a little bit more expensive, but free the hands of your dev team who don’t need to constantly work on the log management tools to customize them.
Digital Marketing and Security
Your systems can produce overwhelming volumes of data, but when you need to plan your digital marketing strategy, you want to focus only on what’s relevant. If you want to avoid dealing with too much noise, you want a tool that focuses on log analysis rather than on crawling. Most log management tools just collect and aggregate log files from different sources so they can be consumed later. However, they provide no meaningful information on how this data can be consumed.
Analytics and data visualization are also critical for security purposes. Once they are consolidated, events can be interpreted to find correlations, alerts, and actionable insights. Event patterns can be spotted by performing a multidimensional analysis rather than just collecting neutral data. For example, a sudden spike in network traffic may signal a potential security breach in the form of repeated brute-force login attempts. Log analysis tools usually support integration with many third-party apps so you can make even better sense of your data.
Finding the Right Log Analysis Tool for You
In a nutshell, although all log management tools can more or less cover all bases, they’re not all created equal. Each one has its own unique features, merits, and flaws. So focus on what you really need before venturing into a labyrinth full of a myriad of different solutions.