Maintaining huge volumes of log information is important to businesses for compliance with IT regulations and policies and to gain an overview of the entire IT infrastructure deployed throughout the organization. Capabilities such as data extraction, dynamic log correlation, event resolution, live tailing, and S3 archiving demonstrate it’s smart to invest in a log management solution. Though the benefits of log management solutions are abundant, not all are created equal. They are categorized in two basic classes with different features, functions, and capabilities:
- Centralized log collector
- Security information and event management (SIEM)
Choosing a tool depends on your organization’s requirements, tool’s capabilities, usability, price, and specifications, among other things. Outlined below are two modern log management tools, including a comparison and feature analysis.
SolarWinds® Papertrail™ is a hosted log management tool for servers, apps, and cloud services. This centralized log management solution also has SIEM capabilities. The tool is designed to accelerate troubleshooting, centralize logs, and find issues quickly with root-cause analysis. Papertrail can be used with various log types such as syslog, text log files, Apache, and Tomcat, providing intuitive log search capability, real-time log tailing, filters, powerful command-line tools, and S3 for long-term archive data storage and retention. Papertrail integrates with commonly used communications platforms like PagerDuty and Slack to quickly identify potential events and troubleshoot slow database queries.
Logentries is a live log management and analytical tool designed to centralize machine-generated logs and make them accessible for development, IT operations, and business analysis. It includes advanced features such as real-time search, alerting and reporting, server monitoring, auto-scaling, and fast log search. It offers easy-to-understand graphical reports and customizable dashboards for a quick and easy visual representation of log data. Logentries dynamically group and correlate logs in a single console to provide an end-to-end view. With its live tailing feature, IT teams can view streaming logs in real-time and highlight important events.
Papertrail vs. Logentries
Both Papertrail and Logentries include all the features required to maintain logs and detect errors. However, they differ in their features, functionalities, and offerings. Logentries extracts field values, analyzes logs with search functions, visualizes them using custom dashboards, helps view logs in real-time, and highlights important events with live tailing features. Papertrail has search filters, dashboards, and live tailing features and a web-based log viewer, command-line tools, and long-term archive (S3). Outlined below is a feature analysis of Papertrail and Logentries to help organizations decide which log management solution will be best for their logging requirements.
Log Search Capability
Log search is one of the most important and basic features of log management. Log search helps you find specific logs in a pool of raw and unfiltered log data simply by entering the search query in a search bar. The log management tools drill down into the raw logs to retrieve the results.
Papertrail works like Google search. Logs can be searched by simply entering the IP address, name of a program, error string, fragments of strings, or a user session name. Papertrail uses Boolean search syntax to make query search fast and easy to read and write. Logentries has more limited search capabilities with features such as RegExp and NOT/AND/OR combining.
Log archiving is a process of storing logs you no longer need, but still retain in case of future requirements. Log management tools provide a retention period or logs archives for a predefined time, after which these logs are deleted from the system permanently. Both Papertrail and Logentries provide log storage options known. Papertrail plans provide log archiving for 1 year, and Logentries provides a log retention period of 30 to 90 days.
Log colorization is a process of color-coding or highlighting logs for systems, programs, and errors. Papertrail and Logentries use ANSI escape codes to colorize certain programs and apps to understand errors and their severity. Papertrail accepts the 16-color set: eight dark for foreground/background and eight bright foreground/background colors.
Filtering is important to use logs efficiently. It identifies which message should be logged and which should not. Both Papertrail and Logentries use log filtering. Papertrail uses noise filtering—this functionality is included in all Papertrail accounts. Papertrail allows you to customize log filtering, which means different environments, applications, and systems can have their own filter settings. Logentries uses filters to separate log streams in real-time to help pinpoint and identify violations.
With complex IT systems and complex applications, organizations need better log management solutions to manage and analyze logs and to get greater visibility into their entire IT infrastructure. Check out the free trial versions of different tools to get more insights into various features, integration capabilities, and benefits they offer. Papertrail includes advanced log monitoring, intuitive interface, real-time event, log search capabilities, and log colorization features, making it an appropriate tool for log management. It also provides per-user access controls, automated backups, and long-term archives to help fulfill basic logging requirements.
*As of June 2020