Ops, Entrepreneurism, Tools, and Thoughts.

Logging as a Service

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I’ve been running into a logging challenge at work of late. The usual issue. Lots of logs, in lots of places, retention policies, governance issues, reporting and (in my humble opinion the most important) support/debugging. After some searching I found logg.ly and Papertrail which offered what I wanted as a service. Very sweet. Unfortunately I cannot use them in this implementation so I am pursuing Graylog2 and logstash (another blogpost on that later). Right now I’m plugging Papertrail into our demo system to see how it goes and how it fits with our workflow. I just wanted to cover off some first impressions with Papertrail.

  1. Compatability We’re running RHEL 5.5 (don’t judge) so we’re using syslog. Luckily there is a little gem from the Papertrail folks that allows you to pipe your app logs into their service. remote_syslog works very well! Ruby 1.8.7 is our ruby of choice for production systems. We don’t put RVM on production boxes so our setup is simple in that regard.

  2. Ease of Use I love how I can see a window into all the events flying by. This sounds ridiculous but I can see issues just by watching patterns in the logs. It’s like using the force but it works for me. Of course you can adjust the granularity to a specific system. Search is the next best thing. 90% of my time spent grovelling in app logs is due to an issue. Papertrail allows you to quickly match the user-time-wtf was going on tuple. Better yet, you can save any search and run it later. Helpful when you want to see if a fix worked.

First impressions are great at this point. I think Papertrail has legs. The next phase of my thoughts will be around retention and compliance with acts like HIPAA.