Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Carmen Gonzalez, Yeshim Deniz, Jyoti Bansal, XebiaLabs Blog, Elizabeth White

Related Topics: Microservices Expo, Java IoT, Agile Computing

Microservices Expo: Blog Post

Why Creating Real-time Dashboards from Your Log Data Is a No-Brainer

Using log data visualizations to understand performance and usage

I recently came across a blog post on OpenOpsIQ asking the question: "With the introduction of real-time logging, why cant we have a single solution for monitoring the entire stack?" In my opinion, you can! As we have seen lately from a survey we carried out across a sample of the Logentries' 25,000+ user base, organizations are starting to apply logs for a wider range of use cases. So why would you do this, and why does using log data to create real-time dashboards for different views into your system make so much sense?

Here's a few reasons why I think creating dashboards from your logs is what I like to call a ‘no-brainer':

  • Logs already contain valuable data on your systems. Before you add any log events from your applications, your system components (operating systems, web servers, application servers, databases, load balancers, routers, firewalls etc.) already produce log data that contain valuable information on performance, response time, who is accessing your system & from where etc. Adding your own log events into the mix from your software applications can give you the entire picture, but there's already a lot for free that you should really take advantage of.
  • Adding new log events is easy peasy - i.e. they scale if you need to add more data, and adding them doesn't require some complex library integration. Simply add a few well structured log events to your logs to get more insights into your system, e.g. add a new feature, then add some log events that capture its usage at an individual user level for example. Then simply track these events to understand if, when and how that new feature is being used after its release. Some tips on how to better structure your log events can be found in this great post by Ryan Daigle entitled "5 steps to better application logging."
  • Logs are decoupled from your system: One of the beautiful simplicities of using yourlogs as data, is that your system does not end up being tightly coupled with your APM tool or web analytics solution. What do I mean by tightly coupled? Well if you are using an APM tool for example you generally have to integrate their monitoring libraries or agents into your system so that it is instrumented and the APM tool can start to capture some system traces, performance metrics and resource usage information for example. This can not only impact your application performance but also means that your application is essentially locked into using this solution unless you are prepared to rip out the library from your application code. With logs, this isn't the case. You simply log your events to disk, or syslog for example, and then you can use a log management solution to extract and visualize the important data. If you decide you don't like your logging provider you can simply send your logs to another service or solution, without the need to rip out any libraires or interfere with your application source code.
  • Logs can visualize whatever data you add into them: With log data you are only really limited by your imagination - what you use them for really depends on what you put into them. Internally at Logentries, a few things we use our logs for include tracking user sign-ups and feature usage, identifying performance threshold breaches, understanding system resource usage, tracking marketing campaigns via pixel tracking, visualizing total $$$ sales per day ... the list goes on...
  • Logs can be generated from every component and device in your stack: Logs can be used to give a complete end-to-end view of your system and are generally produced by every component in all layers of your stack. I recently wrote a blog post on how logs are particularly useful when trying to get visibility into cloud components that can otherwise be considered as black boxes - in short, the blog outlines how cloud services, that you can not instrument with traditional APM solutions, produce log data that you can be used to get visibility into those cloud components and services. Furthermore, you can now also capture logs from your users' web browsers, or mobile devices in real time that give true end-to-end visibility of your application from the client device, though your middleware components and all the way to the database - so that you can also track events through complex stacks.
  • Logs maintain the evidence: Finally, and most important of all in my opinion, is that dashboards based on log data have an important property that does not exist when creating dashboards with many other approaches - i.e. your logs maintain the evidence! This means that if there is a spike in the number of signups or an increase in your customers' using a particular feature, you can quickly validate what caused that change. Validating your data is something that can be particularly painstaking when using APM, web analytics tools or home grown metrics dashboards.

When trying to validate metrics with other monitoring approaches the process usually goes as follows:

  1. you see a sudden spike in one of your metrics, for example signups are up 200% from yesterday.
  2. knowing that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and the fact you didn't kick off any new marketing campaigns recently, you wonder how signups could have increased in this way?
  3. you ask one of your developers, who is responsible for building your home grown metrics dashboard, to check this out and figure out what was responsible for the change.
  4. the developer is pretty busy and comes back a day or two later, after checking the code and one or two databases, explaining that you've been spammed and that the increase in signups was a result of some spammer signing up for a bunch of accounts
  5. you knew there was no such thing as a free lunch :) but it's two days later and you feel a little frustrated having to wait so long for an answer

If you've created your dashboard from your logs the process looks more like this:

  1. you see a sudden spike in one of your metrics, for example signups are up 200% from yesterday
  2. knowing that there is no such thing as a free lunch, and the fact you didn't kick off any new marketing campaigns recently, you click on the spike to drill down into the log data (i.e. the evidence) and look at the list of people who signed up today - and you immediately see the same email address pattern over and over again and you see that someone has been spamming you - QED :)Log Data Insights

Given the above, I am really pleased to announce our new real-time visualizations that are available out of the box when you use Logentries. Our new Log Insights provide a real-time dashboard with a high level view into important events that are occurring in your system. A few of the benefits include:

  • No Search required: Our new dashboard is available out of the box and requires no setup or requirement to run complex search queries on your data. It gives you an immediate view on important trending events and data volumes from your different systems.
  • Track event volume and identify trends in important events: The dashboards show volume of data from your different components, the distribution of these events over time, as well as how important events you have tagged are trending across your systems.
  • Drill down to view the evidence: The dashboards are completely clickable - so you can drill down into your logs to validate any spikes or trends in your data. Spikes and trends can be easily identified such that you can easily dig into these to better understand their root cause.
  • Share insights across your team(s): Because they have been designed to be easy-to-use and do not require complex search queries to build, the dashboards can be used to easily share insights related to your systems across different teams in your organization such as development, test, support, devops, product...and more. As I said above this is really only limited by what data you capture in your logs.

As always looking forward to your feedback on our latest feature - so do let us know what you think! or hit us up on twitter @logentries.

 

More Stories By Trevor Parsons

Trevor Parsons is Chief Scientist and Co-founder of Logentries. Trevor has over 10 years experience in enterprise software and, in particular, has specialized in developing enterprise monitoring and performance tools for distributed systems. He is also a research fellow at the Performance Engineering Lab Research Group and was formerly a Scientist at the IBM Center for Advanced Studies. Trevor holds a PhD from University College Dublin, Ireland.

@MicroservicesExpo Stories
NHK, Japan Broadcasting, will feature the upcoming @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley in a special 'Internet of Things' and smart technology documentary that will be filmed on the expo floor between November 3 to 5, 2015, in Santa Clara. NHK is the sole public TV network in Japan equivalent to the BBC in the UK and the largest in Asia with many award-winning science and technology programs. Japanese TV is producing a documentary about IoT and Smart technology and will be covering @ThingsExpo Silicon Val...
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Aruna Ravichandran, vice president of DevOps Product and Solutions Marketing at CA Technologies, has been named co-conference chair of DevOps at Cloud Expo 2017. The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York, and @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo Silicon Valley will take place Oct. 31-Nov. 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Is your application too difficult to manage? Do changes take dozens of developers hundreds of hours to execute, and frequently result in downtime across all your site’s functions? It sounds like you have a monolith! A monolith is one of the three main software architectures that define most applications. Whether you’ve intentionally set out to create a monolith or not, it’s worth at least weighing the pros and cons of the different architectural approaches and deciding which one makes the most s...
Back in February of 2017, Andrew Clay Schafer of Pivotal tweeted the following: “seriously tho, the whole software industry is stuck on deployment when we desperately need architecture and telemetry.” Intrigue in a 140 characters. For me, I hear Andrew saying, “we’re jumping to step 5 before we’ve successfully completed steps 1-4.”
Cloud promises the agility required by today’s digital businesses. As organizations adopt cloud based infrastructures and services, their IT resources become increasingly dynamic and hybrid in nature. Managing these require modern IT operations and tools. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Raj Sundaram, Senior Principal Product Manager at CA Technologies, will discuss how to modernize your IT operations in order to proactively manage your hybrid cloud and IT environments. He will be sharing be...
Developers want to create better apps faster. Static clouds are giving way to scalable systems, with dynamic resource allocation and application monitoring. You won't hear that chant from users on any picket line, but helping developers to create better apps faster is the mission of Lee Atchison, principal cloud architect and advocate at New Relic Inc., based in San Francisco. His singular job is to understand and drive the industry in the areas of cloud architecture, microservices, scalability ...
This recent research on cloud computing from the Register delves a little deeper than many of the "We're all adopting cloud!" surveys we've seen. They found that meaningful cloud adoption and the idea of the cloud-first enterprise are still not reality for many businesses. The Register's stats also show a more gradual cloud deployment trend over the past five years, not any sort of explosion. One important takeaway is that coherence across internal and external clouds is essential for IT right n...
Enterprise architects are increasingly adopting multi-cloud strategies as they seek to utilize existing data center assets, leverage the advantages of cloud computing and avoid cloud vendor lock-in. This requires a globally aware traffic management strategy that can monitor infrastructure health across data centers and end-user experience globally, while responding to control changes and system specification at the speed of today’s DevOps teams. In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Josh Gray, Chie...
To more closely examine the variety of ways in which IT departments around the world are integrating cloud services, and the effect hybrid IT has had on their organizations and IT job roles, SolarWinds recently released the SolarWinds IT Trends Report 2017: Portrait of a Hybrid Organization. This annual study consists of survey-based research that explores significant trends, developments, and movements related to and directly affecting IT and IT professionals.
Today we can collect lots and lots of performance data. We build beautiful dashboards and even have fancy query languages to access and transform the data. Still performance data is a secret language only a couple of people understand. The more business becomes digital the more stakeholders are interested in this data including how it relates to business. Some of these people have never used a monitoring tool before. They have a question on their mind like “How is my application doing” but no id...
In large enterprises, environment provisioning and server provisioning account for a significant portion of the operations team's time. This often leaves users frustrated while they wait for these services. For instance, server provisioning can take several days and sometimes even weeks. At the same time, digital transformation means the need for server and environment provisioning is constantly growing. Organizations are adopting agile methodologies and software teams are increasing the speed ...
In his session at 20th Cloud Expo, Scott Davis, CTO of Embotics, will discuss how automation can provide the dynamic management required to cost-effectively deliver microservices and container solutions at scale. He will discuss how flexible automation is the key to effectively bridging and seamlessly coordinating both IT and developer needs for component orchestration across disparate clouds – an increasingly important requirement at today’s multi-cloud enterprise.
Keeping pace with advancements in software delivery processes and tooling is taxing even for the most proficient organizations. Point tools, platforms, open source and the increasing adoption of private and public cloud services requires strong engineering rigor – all in the face of developer demands to use the tools of choice. As Agile has settled in as a mainstream practice, now DevOps has emerged as the next wave to improve software delivery speed and output. To make DevOps work, organization...
In his general session at 19th Cloud Expo, Manish Dixit, VP of Product and Engineering at Dice, discussed how Dice leverages data insights and tools to help both tech professionals and recruiters better understand how skills relate to each other and which skills are in high demand using interactive visualizations and salary indicator tools to maximize earning potential. Manish Dixit is VP of Product and Engineering at Dice. As the leader of the Product, Engineering and Data Sciences team at D...
Software as a service (SaaS), one of the earliest and most successful cloud services, has reached mainstream status. According to Cisco, by 2019 more than four-fifths (83 percent) of all data center traffic will be based in the cloud, up from 65 percent today. The majority of this traffic will be applications. Businesses of all sizes are adopting a variety of SaaS-based services – everything from collaboration tools to mission-critical commerce-oriented applications. The rise in SaaS usage has m...
The proper isolation of resources is essential for multi-tenant environments. The traditional approach to isolate resources is, however, rather heavyweight. In his session at 18th Cloud Expo, Igor Drobiazko, co-founder of elastic.io, drew upon his own experience with operating a Docker container-based infrastructure on a large scale and present a lightweight solution for resource isolation using microservices. He also discussed the implementation of microservices in data and application integrat...
We'd all like to fulfill that "find a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life" cliché. But in reality, every job (even if it's our dream job) comes with its downsides. For you, the constant fight against shadow IT might get on your last nerves. For your developer coworkers, infrastructure management is the roadblock that stands in the way of focusing on coding. As you watch more and more applications and processes move to the cloud, technology is coming to developers' rescue-most r...
2016 has been an amazing year for Docker and the container industry. We had 3 major releases of Docker engine this year , and tremendous increase in usage. The community has been following along and contributing amazing Docker resources to help you learn and get hands-on experience. Here’s some of the top read and viewed content for the year. Of course releases are always really popular, particularly when they fit requests we had from the community.
Even for the most seasoned IT pros, the cloud is complicated. It can be difficult just to wrap your head around the many terms and acronyms that make up the cloud dictionary-not to mention actually mastering the technology. Unfortunately, complicated cloud terms are often combined to the point that their meanings are lost in a sea of conflicting opinions. Two terms that are used interchangeably (but shouldn't be) are hybrid cloud and multicloud. If you want to be the cloud expert your company ne...
SYS-CON Events announced today that CollabNet, a global leader in enterprise software development, release automation and DevOps solutions, will be a Bronze Sponsor of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, taking place from June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. CollabNet offers a broad range of solutions with the mission of helping modern organizations deliver quality software at speed. The company’s latest innovation, the DevOps Lifecycle Manager (DLM), supports Value S...