Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: John Rauser, Liz McMillan, Madhavan Krishnan, VP, Cloud Solutions, Virtusa, Jason Bloomberg, Pat Romanski

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
Agile has finally jumped the technology shark, expanding outside the software world. Enterprises are now increasingly adopting Agile practices across their organizations in order to successfully navigate the disruptive waters that threaten to drown them. In our quest for establishing change as a core competency in our organizations, this business-centric notion of Agile is an essential component of Agile Digital Transformation. In the years since the publication of the Agile Manifesto, the conn...
"This all sounds great. But it's just not realistic." This is what a group of five senior IT executives told me during a workshop I held not long ago. We were working through an exercise on the organizational characteristics necessary to successfully execute a digital transformation, and the group was doing their ‘readout.' The executives loved everything we discussed and agreed that if such an environment existed, it would make transformation much easier. They just didn't believe it was reali...
The cloud revolution in enterprises has very clearly crossed the phase of proof-of-concepts into a truly mainstream adoption. One of most popular enterprise-wide initiatives currently going on are “cloud migration” programs of some kind or another. Finding business value for these programs is not hard to fathom – they include hyperelasticity in infrastructure consumption, subscription based models, and agility derived from rapid speed of deployment of applications. These factors will continue to...
"Opsani helps the enterprise adopt containers, help them move their infrastructure into this modern world of DevOps, accelerate the delivery of new features into production, and really get them going on the container path," explained Ross Schibler, CEO of Opsani, and Peter Nickolov, CTO of Opsani, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"We're developing a software that is based on the cloud environment and we are providing those services to corporations and the general public," explained Seungmin Kim, CEO/CTO of SM Systems Inc., in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
Enterprises are adopting Kubernetes to accelerate the development and the delivery of cloud-native applications. However, sharing a Kubernetes cluster between members of the same team can be challenging. And, sharing clusters across multiple teams is even harder. Kubernetes offers several constructs to help implement segmentation and isolation. However, these primitives can be complex to understand and apply. As a result, it’s becoming common for enterprises to end up with several clusters. Thi...
"Codigm is based on the cloud and we are here to explore marketing opportunities in America. Our mission is to make an ecosystem of the SW environment that anyone can understand, learn, teach, and develop the SW on the cloud," explained Sung Tae Ryu, CEO of Codigm, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
"CA has been doing a lot of things in the area of DevOps. Now we have a complete set of tool sets in order to enable customers to go all the way from planning to development to testing down to release into the operations," explained Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President of Global Marketing and Strategy at CA Technologies, in this SYS-CON.tv interview at DevOps Summit at 21st Cloud Expo, held Oct 31 – Nov 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA.
The nature of test environments is inherently temporary—you set up an environment, run through an automated test suite, and then tear down the environment. If you can reduce the cycle time for this process down to hours or minutes, then you may be able to cut your test environment budgets considerably. The impact of cloud adoption on test environments is a valuable advancement in both cost savings and agility. The on-demand model takes advantage of public cloud APIs requiring only payment for t...
Cavirin Systems has just announced C2, a SaaS offering designed to bring continuous security assessment and remediation to hybrid environments, containers, and data centers. Cavirin C2 is deployed within Amazon Web Services (AWS) and features a flexible licensing model for easy scalability and clear pay-as-you-go pricing. Although native to AWS, it also supports assessment and remediation of virtual or container instances within Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), or on-premise. By dr...
Let's do a visualization exercise. Imagine it's December 31, 2018, and you're ringing in the New Year with your friends and family. You think back on everything that you accomplished in the last year: your company's revenue is through the roof thanks to the success of your product, and you were promoted to Lead Developer. 2019 is poised to be an even bigger year for your company because you have the tools and insight to scale as quickly as demand requires. You're a happy human, and it's not just...
Many enterprise and government IT organizations are realizing the benefits of cloud computing by extending IT delivery and management processes across private and public cloud services. But they are often challenged with balancing the need for centralized cloud governance without stifling user-driven innovation. This strategy requires an approach that fundamentally reshapes how IT is delivered today, shifting the focus from infrastructure to services aggregation, and mixing and matching the bes...
identify the sources of event storms and performance anomalies will require automated, real-time root-cause analysis. I think Enterprise Management Associates said it well: “The data and metrics collected at instrumentation points across the application ecosystem are essential to performance monitoring and root cause analysis. However, analytics capable of transforming data and metrics into an application-focused report or dashboards are what separates actual application monitoring from relat...
The benefits of automation are well documented; it increases productivity, cuts cost and minimizes errors. It eliminates repetitive manual tasks, freeing us up to be more innovative. By that logic, surely, we should automate everything possible, right? So, is attempting to automate everything a sensible - even feasible - goal? In a word: no. Consider this your short guide as to what to automate and what not to automate.
DevOps teams have more on their plate than ever. As infrastructure needs grow, so does the time required to ensure that everything's running smoothly. This makes automation crucial - especially in the server and network monitoring world. Server monitoring tools can save teams time by automating server management and providing real-time performance updates. As budgets reset for the New Year, there is no better time to implement a new server monitoring tool (or re-evaluate your current solution)....
While some developers care passionately about how data centers and clouds are architected, for most, it is only the end result that matters. To the majority of companies, technology exists to solve a business problem, and only delivers value when it is solving that problem. 2017 brings the mainstream adoption of containers for production workloads. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Ben McCormack, VP of Operations at Evernote, discussed how data centers of the future will be managed, how the p...
We just came off of a review of a product that handles both containers and virtual machines in the same interface. Under the covers, implementation of containers defaults to LXC, though recently Docker support was added. When reading online, or searching for information, increasingly we see “Container Management” products listed as competitors to Docker, when in reality things like Rocket, LXC/LXD, and Virtualization are Dockers competitors. After doing some looking around, we have decided tha...
High-velocity engineering teams are applying not only continuous delivery processes, but also lessons in experimentation from established leaders like Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook. These companies have made experimentation a foundation for their release processes, allowing them to try out major feature releases and redesigns within smaller groups before making them broadly available. In his session at 21st Cloud Expo, Brian Lucas, Senior Staff Engineer at Optimizely, discussed how by using ne...
While we understand Agile as a means to accelerate innovation, manage uncertainty and cope with ambiguity, many are inclined to think that it conflicts with the objectives of traditional engineering projects, such as building a highway, skyscraper or power plant. These are plan-driven and predictive projects that seek to avoid any uncertainty. This type of thinking, however, is short-sighted. Agile approaches are valuable in controlling uncertainty because they constrain the complexity that ste...
Digital transformation has changed the way users interact with the world, and the traditional healthcare experience no longer meets rising consumer expectations. Enterprise Health Clouds (EHCs) are designed to easily and securely deliver the smart and engaging digital health experience that patients expect today, while ensuring the compliance and data integration that care providers require. Jikku Venkat