Welcome!

Microservices Expo Authors: Elizabeth White, Carmen Gonzalez, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan

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
More and more companies are looking to microservices as an architectural pattern for breaking apart applications into more manageable pieces so that agile teams can deliver new features quicker and more effectively. What this pattern has done more than anything to date is spark organizational transformations, setting the foundation for future application development. In practice, however, there are a number of considerations to make that go beyond simply “build, ship, and run,” which changes ho...
Gartner is now treating algorithms like they are some kind of innovative addition to the modern digital discussion. Presumably the brilliant minds there have some novel insight into algorithms and, yes, the Algorithm Economy that CIOs should sit up and take notice of. Not only are algorithms nothing new, but much of what Gartner is saying about them is obvious. The bigger picture here is that software continues to improve, and enterprises are becoming increasingly software-driven, in part bec...
The Internet of Things is clearly many things: data collection and analytics, wearables, Smart Grids and Smart Cities, the Industrial Internet, and more. Cool platforms like Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Intel's Galileo and Edison, and a diverse world of sensors are making the IoT a great toy box for developers in all these areas. In this Power Panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists discussed what things are the most important, which will have the most profound...
The Internet of Things (IoT) is growing rapidly by extending current technologies, products and networks. By 2020, Cisco estimates there will be 50 billion connected devices. Gartner has forecast revenues of over $300 billion, just to IoT suppliers. Now is the time to figure out how you’ll make money – not just create innovative products. With hundreds of new products and companies jumping into the IoT fray every month, there’s no shortage of innovation. Despite this, McKinsey/VisionMobile data...
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...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Men & Mice, the leading global provider of DNS, DHCP and IP address management overlay solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. The Men & Mice Suite overlay solution is already known for its powerful application in heterogeneous operating environments, enabling enterprises to scale without fuss. Building on a solid range of diverse platform support,...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world and ThingsExpo New York Call for Papers is now open.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Catchpoint Systems, Inc., a provider of innovative web and infrastructure monitoring solutions, has been named “Silver Sponsor” of SYS-CON's DevOps Summit at 18th Cloud Expo New York, which will take place June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Catchpoint is a leading Digital Performance Analytics company that provides unparalleled insight into customer-critical services to help consistently deliver an amazing customer experience. Designed...
@DevOpsSummit taking place June 7-9, 2016 at Javits Center, New York City, and Nov 1-3, 2016, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 18th International @CloudExpo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world.
Cloud Expo, Inc. has announced today that Andi Mann returns to 'DevOps at Cloud Expo 2016' as Conference Chair The @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. "DevOps is set to be one of the most profound disruptions to hit IT in decades," said Andi Mann. "It is a natural extension of cloud computing, and I have seen both firsthand and in independent research the fantastic results DevOps delivers. So I am excited to help the g...
Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) will feature the upcoming 18th Cloud Expo | @ThingsExpo in a New York news documentary about the "New IT for the Future." The documentary will cover how big companies are transmitting or adopting the new IT for the future and will be filmed on the expo floor between June 7-June 9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, New York. KBS has long been a leader in the development of the broadcasting culture of Korea. As the key public service broadcaster of Korea...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Addteq will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo New York, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Addteq is one of the top 10 Platinum Atlassian Experts who specialize in DevOps, custom and continuous integration, automation, plugin development, and consulting for midsize and global firms. Addteq firmly believes that automation is essential for successful software releases. Addteq centers its products a...
In the rush to compete in the digital age, a successful digital transformation is essential, but many organizations are setting themselves up for failure. There’s a common misconception that the process is just about technology, but it’s not. It’s about your business. It shouldn’t be treated as an isolated IT project; it should be driven by business needs with the committed involvement of a range of stakeholders.
SYS-CON Events announced today that FalconStor Software® Inc., a 15-year innovator of software-defined storage solutions, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. FalconStor Software®, Inc. (NASDAQ: FALC) is a leading software-defined storage company offering a converged, hardware-agnostic, software-defined storage and data services platform. Its flagship solution FreeStor®, utilizes a horizonta...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing IoT strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @ThingsExpo 2016 in New York and Silicon Valley. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is as "IoT-Ready" as it can be! Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place Nov 3-5, 2015, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with 17th Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Column Technologies will exhibit at SYS-CON's @DevOpsSummit at Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Established in 1998, Column Technologies is a global technology solutions provider with over 400 employees, headquartered in the United States with offices in Canada, India, and the United Kingdom. Column Technologies provides “Best of Breed” technology solutions that automate the key DevOps principal...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
SYS-CON Events announced today that IBM Cloud Data Services has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. IBM Cloud Data Services offers a portfolio of integrated, best-of-breed cloud data services for developers focused on mobile computing and analytics use cases.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Anexia will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Anexia offers high-quality customized managed hosting solutions for SaaS and IaaS companies. The company was founded in 2006 in Klagenfurt, Austria. Today, it has additional offices in Vienna, Graz, Munich, Cologne and New York City to serve numerous international customers.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Stratoscale, the software company developing the next generation data center operating system, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 18th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Stratoscale is revolutionizing the data center with a zero-to-cloud-in-minutes solution. With Stratoscale’s hardware-agnostic, Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) solution to store everything, run anything and scale everywhere...