Syslog Management – Don’t Overlook Your Syslog Messages

By Staff Contributor on October 20, 2021

When’s the last time you looked at a syslog message?

How often do you review your syslog messages?

If you’re not regularly reviewing syslog messages, you’re missing important information about how your IT infrastructure is performing.

But if you’re spending a lot of your time watching syslog messages (admittedly tedious and boring work), you’re not working on the other important work your organization needs.

Are you curious about types of software capable of automating your syslog management?

Do you know about any dedicated syslog management tools?

What’s a SysAdmin to do?

What Is Syslog?

According to TechTarget, syslog is a standard protocol (RFC 5424) for computer logging and collection. It’s popular in Unix-like systems, including servers, networking equipment, and internet of things (IoT) devices. The log messages generated by a device create a record of events occurring on the operating system or application. The purpose of these messages is to provide administrators with information regarding important events, health information, and other normal or abnormal occurrences, as they can prove useful when troubleshooting.

To help with this, syslog messages have a severity level field. A severity of “0” indicates an emergency, and a severity of “1” indicates the need for immediate action. Severities of “6” and “7” indicate informational and debug messages, respectively.

Windows-based computers have a similar facility in the form of the Windows Event Log, which serves a similar purpose.

Skip to read about our recommended syslog management tool >>>

Syslog Challenges

For all the positives syslog messages can bring to an organization, there are also a few challenges.

Syslog messages are often “out of sight, out of mind” for IT organizations. This is just one of their challenges.

Syslog messages capture a wealth of information, recording this information on a local file system. And these messages generate volumes and volumes of data—so much that most servers are configured to overwrite the oldest messages with newer messages when the file system allocates for syslog message fills.

Additionally, there are usually more servers with syslog messages than there are human eyes available to monitor them. Even though syslog messages contain useful information for IT organizations, other work still needs to be done. SysAdmins rarely have the time to look at all the syslog messages in an environment.

Overcoming Syslog Challenges With Syslog Management Tools—Syslog Managers

There is one solution capable of helping SysAdmins manage syslog messages: a syslog server. Syslog servers provide a collection point for all the various syslog messages within an environment. Individual syslog messages can be directed to send event messages to a logging server known as a syslog server. Rather than trying to monitor each device’s syslog messages, an admin can simply look at the central syslog server. Additionally, syslog servers allow you to allocate more file system space for syslog messages, which allows SysAdmins to view these messages for a longer period.

Though this reduces the number of places for reviewing syslog messages, it only solves half the problem. How can a SysAdmin leverage the information found in syslog messages to help make administration easier? This is where a syslog manager comes in.

To avoid confusion, it’s good to understand the phrase “syslog server” is widely known as an actual syslog manager rather than just a piece of hardware serving as a collection point for syslog messages (in fact, a syslog server can be a physical server, a stand-alone virtual machine, or a software-based service).

A syslog manager is software designed to monitor syslog data, simplify the task of monitoring all the information, and filter the trivial from the significant. How does this make a SysAdmin’s job easier?

  • Enables SysAdmins to be more proactive—With the ability to conveniently view and make sense of the information and changes found in syslog messages, SysAdmins can proactively take action to avoid downtime.
  • Enhanced network monitoring and alerting capability—Network monitoring systems typically monitor the status of things like CPU utilization, file system utilization, page file swapping, and other resources. Though this information is useful, the information found in syslog messages can provide a different dimension of data for alerting systems. Applications and operating systems log messages to syslog—information network monitoring systems typically can’t collect. Providing syslog information from a syslog manager to a network monitoring system provides two benefits: it alerts from the same mechanism and allows the IT team to define and use standardized monitoring and alerting definitions.
  • Gives SysAdmins time to do more “value-added” work—Using a syslog manager to manage and review syslog messages frees up SysAdmins to perform other value-added work for their organizations while ensuring the computing environment is properly managed.

Implementing a syslog manager benefits both the IT organization and the business.

Syslog managers can help IT organizations optimize their work and enhance their reputation. IT organizations can focus their efforts more on business projects, knowing if an issue occurs within the infrastructure, SysAdmins can quickly diagnose and resolve the issue using information managed by a syslog manager.  And because IT is spending more of its time working on business projects and less time dealing with infrastructure issues, IT is viewed as a more valuable asset to the organization.

The business also benefits from having a syslog manager. Rather than spending more money on people just to “keep the lights on” from an IT perspective, money can be better spent on developing systems to advance the business.

If you ignore syslog messages, you may regret it when things go wrong. Having a syslog manager provides peace of mind for the IT organization and the business overall by providing a reliable source of information about how servers are performing.

A good example of a powerful and automated syslog monitoring and management tool is SolarWinds® Kiwi Syslog® Server. You can download a 14-day free trial from the product’s official site here.

Related Posts