Managing a massive number of logs generated by several servers, applications, and devices can be challenging without a reliable log management tool. Although every logging solution covers the basic features required for log management, they differ in certain aspects. Organizations should choose a solution to fulfill the specific log management requirements such as log monitoring, security, and audit and compliance. Besides centralized log collection, storage, and generating reports, a log management solution should include features such as remote logging, front-end logging, log filtering, custom dashboards, intuitive user interface, and more.
Outlined below is a comparative feature analysis between SolarWinds® Papertrail™ and Sentry to help teams make an informed decision of choosing a reliable log management solution.
Papertrail is a cloud-based log management solution designed to help organizations effortlessly manage and analyze logs. Users can consolidate the PowerShell logs at a single place and quickly analyze events across the infrastructure. Its front-end logging capability also allows users to search through the logs and analyze apps and services without connecting to the individual servers. Papertrail stores the front-end logs in the cloud and users can manage access to these front-end logs by assigning read-only or full access. Its log group feature allows access to individual files or groups of log files. Users can also trim the noisy log filters and can further refine them based on filters like time, origin, or custom fields like session ID. Papertrail also provides an easy way to view related log messages in a few clicks, while its context link feature helps users narrow down the log messages to individual IP addresses or machines.
Sentry offers an application monitoring platform primarily focusing on error reporting. It’s a self-hosted solution designed to help organizations in real-time detection and resolution of errors. It helps teams monitor events, errors, and bugs in real time to help ensure applications, devices, and servers are working smoothly. Sentry captures events and sends them to an already existing group or to a new one based on its grouping algorithm. Users can also record breadcrumbs (a trail of events occurred prior to an issue). These breadcrumbs don’t create an event in Sentry, but are buffered until the next event is sent. Sentry consolidates similar errors to resolve them swiftly.
Papertrail vs. Sentry
Let’s dig deeper into the features of both these tools:
Sentry has a few options of third-party integration with third-party tools and is broadly classified as global and per project integration. Some of the global integrations include Azure, BitBucket, Github, GitLab, Slack, PagerDuty, OpsGenie, HipChat, Pushover, along with a few other options. While its per-project integration includes limited options like Heroku, GitLab, Phabricator, Pivotal Tracker and Pushover to name a few. However, Papertrail offers multiple third-party integration options including the likes of Amazon CloudWatch and Amazon SNS, AppOptics, HostedGraphite, Librato®, and HoneyBadger. Papertrail also has an additional benefit of linking the logs to an external dashboard without integrating any API. This gives users the ability of accessing the logs straight away from the dashboard. Its provisioning and search API allows the developers to integrate real-time log access into their applications and let them have control over most Papertrail account settings.
The Sentry search syntax is based on key-value pattern with an optional raw search at the end, where every key-value pair acts as a token, including the optional raw search acting as a single token in itself. These key-value pairs are considered as issue or event properties. On the other hand, Papertrail search syntax works in a way like Google search, as it works on the principle of boolean search syntax. Compared to Sentry, Papertrail search syntax supports combining terms and phrases by using AND, OR, and exclusion operators. It’s also possible to use a backslash to escape single or double quotes within words or phrases. Papertrail also supports JSON search syntax in addition to boolean search syntax.
Access control in Sentry can be managed at the organizational level. Each user can have access to a single account through which they can manage their personal preferences such as notifications and security settings. The access is role-based and categorized into different levels such as owners, managers, admins, members, and billing. Sentry default settings allow for open membership enabling participants to leave, join, or add other members to the teams.
Papertrail offers the ability to add members to groups with selective access or role-based access which means it provides specific permissions for managing users, changing plans, or purging logs. It’s classified into different member settings like managing permissions and user, change plans and payments, full access, read-only, and much more. It also helps quickly find a member in the organizations. Clearly, enterprises with multiple hierarchies and divisions benefit from leveraging the access control capability of Papertrail.
Papertrail offers extensive support to its users via email and chat. It also supports any queries ranging from a basic level of doubts like setting up an account, including users and billing related queries. It also provides few handy tips on logging best practices, logging configuration, and debugging associated issues for said logging configuration. However, Sentry has limited customer support available, especially if the user is using an open source version. In this case, users can only get in touch with their community. Moreover, Sentry doesn’t provide documentation support on every SDK unlike Papertrail, which tries to help customers on any issues from setting up and configuring to debugging the logging configurations. Sentry handles customers facing issues specific to their service.
Zeroing in on a tool is a vital decision and organizations need to have a clear understanding of what features they require the most. Although Sentry provides exclusive application monitoring and error detection capabilities, Papertrail log management solution capabilities and features are far beyond. Right from integration to managing billions of log messages, it has many pluses over Sentry. Papertrail also offers log velocity visualization, enabling development teams to identify patterns, trends, and anomalies, and fix them swiftly.
Its log velocity analytics also provide users with a quick visualization of logs, helping to recognize patterns and anomalies which can help organizations reduce the amount of time they spend on error troubleshooting. Users can also spot trends over the last two weeks or jump to a particular time. Papertrail also makes it easier for users to skim the logs via its ANSI color support feature allowing specific log messages to be colorized and helping users spot what they’re looking for. It also supports contrast, scrolling, and information density as a part of its skimability feature.
*As of June 2020