How to Use Log Management to Retrace Your Digital FootstepsHow to Use Log Management to Retrace Your Digital Footsteps
Log management tools help IT and security teams monitor and improve a system's performance by identifying bugs, cybersecurity breaches, and other issues that can create outages or compliance problems.
July 10, 2023
Logs are like digital footprints or a letter that developers write to themselves for the future. They track every action or event that takes place within software, applications, and IT infrastructure. They provide important information, such as when an action happened, the host name, the type of action, and the application used.
Sometimes you must retrace your or a user's steps to determine where something went wrong … or where it could start going wrong. Unfortunately, technical teams may have to sift through several systems' worth of logs because systems and applications create logs for every action, error, file request, or file transfer that occurred within them. Log management makes the whole process less painful and time consuming.
How Do You Manage Logs?
There are five steps to log management:
Collect your logs: Before you can manage logs, you have to gather them. A company's logs typically exist across servers, applications, infrastructures, network devices, and more. A log collector collects logs from all these locations. Loading data into your system as-is instead of parsing it first allows you to collect this data quickly because the data going into your system does not have to be organized or uniform until you use it.
Centralize and index your logs: Once you've collected your logs, put them in one central location so that your team can easily find and sort through them. Index them to make them searchable.
Search and analyze information within the logs: Your technical team has the option to analyze the data from these logs manually or by using machine learning to spot outliers in patterns.
Monitor the logs and receive alerts about anything unusual: Monitor collected logs for errors or security breaches and use alerts to notify your team about any error that's spotted.
Create and share reports and dashboards: Share data through reports and dashboards so that everyone who needs it has access to the same information. You can also reuse these reports and dashboards without having to recreate them. If you want to limit which reports or dashboards someone can access, you can put permissions on them so that only the necessary team members can view them.
What Is a Log Management System?
A log management system provides your team a single place to compile and store all your logs across servers, applications, and devices. From there, you can parse, analyze, and organize your logs as needed. Log management tools help DevOps teams monitor and improve a system's performance by identifying issues, bugs, and security breaches (or attempted ones) and alerting the appropriate people who can address them.
Cloud-based log management systems can be accessed anywhere at any time. They also compile all logs into one platform so that you don't have to sort through several systems and applications to find what you need. Thanks to the elastic nature of the cloud, they offer scalability to help manage the seasonality of data.
Why Is Log Management Important?
Log management allows your IT and your security teams to:
Check the health of applications and infrastructures: With a log management system, you have all your logs in one place and can more easily sort through them to figure out where errors may be. Without a log management system, your team may have to spend hours sifting through various applications or systems or contacting cloud providers to find the log information you need. Using log management best practices allows you to proactively monitor for potential problems before they arise.
Ensure an exceptional customer digital experience: By accessing the right data on the reliability and performance of your applications through insights about the user experience, you can identify anomalies and resolve issues before users are impacted.
Gain insights when there is a security breach: Similar to checking the health of your applications and tech stacks, log management makes it easier to monitor for security breaches because you have all your logs in one centralized location. More visibility means you can stop a security breach attempt quickly.
Boost customer satisfaction: Issues or security breaches may impact your users' experience. Slow loading speeds, delayed customer service response, and complete outages can lead to customer churn. Log management helps prevent these issues.
Maintain compliance with policies or requirements: Some companies and organizations must follow certain cybersecurity, privacy, financial recording, or reporting guidelines. Those who don't comply with their industry's regulations may face fines, loss of licensing, or even imprisonment. Log management helps organizations demonstrate compliance using the data in their logs.
About the Author
Manas Sharma is a Principal Product Manager at Sumo Logic responsible for logs and log analytics. Manas has more than 23 years of experience in the technology industry, with a wealth of knowledge and expertise in networking, embedded systems, network management, and observability. Manas has grown from an engineer executing cutting-edge projects to leading various product initiatives as a product manager while working at companies such as Network Programs, Broadcom, 4RF, Symbol, and HPE.
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