Logs are an essential part of good systems governance and management, providing administrators with a detailed view into the innermost workings of the very systems they manage. For the most part, logs are not something that is used every day, and as such, they do not always get the recognition they deserve. Even so, when embraced and adequately managed, logs can help administrators troubleshoot issues more efficiently and effectively.
One subject that tends to come up when discussing logs is log management services, which is with good reason. With the deployment of more complex systems, log management services are becoming less niche and more of a necessity. In such use cases, these services can offer administrators a powerful tool to extract more value from the otherwise disparate logs being generated across the network.
An introduction to log management services
In simple terms, log management systems are an aggregator of logs generated from different systems. They can pull and receive logs from various systems and organize them in one central, convenient location. On the other hand, log management services deliver a log management system as a service and are generally available online, making them that much easier to access.
The real magic of log management services comes from their ability to understand the logs they are reading, allowing you to search, troubleshoot, and report over several systems as if they were one. This approach contrasts starkly with the fragmented process, collecting logs from multiple systems entails.
The case for log management services
That logs are useful is something administrators have appreciated since the dawn of the computer age. If you’re managing one isolated system, searching through one set of logs is easy enough. However, when you have multiple, disparate systems, going through the logs of each system separately, might not sound so appealing or efficient. This is the pain point that log management services and systems seek to address.
Having logs collated in one central place also gives rise to several additional benefits that are hard to replicate on a system that’s only collecting one set of logs. These benefits tend to change from one system to another depending on the features of that particular system.
Which systems are supported?
Generally speaking, this depends on the service provider, since they need to connect to and parse logs that may be in different formats. Having said that, services such as Loggly and Papertrail support an extensive range of log sources, including our very own WP Activity monitor, making them a great option for those who are looking to keep tabs on WordPress websites as well as the infrastructure that surrounds them.
The benefits of using log management service
There are many benefits to be had when switching to a log management service to manage your logs. Of course, the more complex and spread out the infrastructure is, the bigger the benefits will be. However, this is also true for those who are managing multiple WordPress websites, since it will avoid a lot of the back and forth this kind of setup usually entails.
Let’s have a look at some of the benefits log management services offer.
Manage multiple systems
While WordPress does not output logs out of the box, plugins like WP Activity Log add this functionality in just a few clicks. The plugin does a great job of displaying logs with its search and filtering functionality. However, if you’re managing several WordPress websites or have an elaborate setup with multiple systems, having logs collated to one central location can save you a lot of time since you won’t need to log in to various systems each time.
Troubleshoot the bigger picture
Having logs from different systems reporting to one central location can help you troubleshoot more complex issues that might involve spillovers. WordPress itself uses multiple systems and services, including MySQL, SMTP, the Web Server, and others – all of which generate logs WordPress site admins should check. With all logs conveniently located in one central place, you can also create timelines of events, helping you troubleshoot more complex issues should these arise.
If the entire network goes down, finding the culprit will be more difficult if your log system is inaccessible. By storing log records off the main site, you will still be able to access the logs and start narrowing down what went wrong for a more precise implementation of any required fixes.
From tracking SLAs and KPIs to writing reports, having all of your log data standardized in one location makes it much easier to not only improve reporting but be able to offer more depth with less work. Several log management services make this easier through an easy-to-use interface, easy query structures, and other additional functionality.
Security is never an isolated concern, with the most secure infrastructures taking a 360-degree approach by hardening and monitoring each component of the network. While a lot can be done to secure and harden WordPress, collating logs from different appliances, applications, and systems can help you create specific security dashboards, making it that much easier to keep everything safe and secure.
Making the most out of Log Management Services
There are several things that need to be taken into account when choosing a log management service. The system’s features are important, but you also need to consider which systems the service supports. The more applications and systems the service supports, the more of your logs you can consolidate, giving you an accurate, 360 view of your entire infrastructure.
WP Activity Log is supported by a number of Log Management Services, including Loggly and Papertrail. Loggly comes with a 7-day free trial, while Papertrail has a free version so that you can experience the benefits of log management service with no risk.