Logging VS Monitoring and  Why you need both.

Logging and monitoring is a term that is largely spoken about in security circles, as it plays an essential role in investigating, fine-tuning the security posture of a single digital asset or group of assets.

An error log is a list of every issue affecting a server, network, operating system, or device. These log files may contain information on the error’s time and place of occurrence, the user(s) present at the scene, the affected system components, and the impact’s duration. The reason for logging is to ensure an accurate and up to date availability of data on the application that can be used for assessment and decision making.

There are different types of logs being collected in digital systems today, some of the are:

Event Logs: This is a high-level log keeps track of things like unsuccessful password attempts, login attempts, and application events. It also captures data on network usage and traffic.

  1. System Logs: System logs, often known as syslogs, are logs of operating system activities. In addition to failures and warnings, it also contains startup messages, system modifications, unexpected shutdowns, and other crucial operations. Syslogs are produced by Windows, Linux, and macOS.
  2. Access and Acrivity Logs: These logs are majorly found on applications, they record the details of users accessing the application, when they access the application and their activities while using the application.
  3. Change Logs: These logs record a list of changes to the application, haven gone through the change management process.
  4. Availability Logs: These logs keep track of system performance, uptime to enable easy diagnosis of problems that will affect the continuous operation of the system.
  5. Error Logs: These logs keep details of all errors that a system throws. This helps developers easily diagnose issues.

While logging is a great way of keeping records, there are certain rules to follow. They are listed below:

  1. Avoid storing, transferring, or evaluating extraneous information by only logging actionable points.
  2. Avoid logging too much data as this will increase cost and waste time during processing of data.

A good logging strategy will provide two types of data: 

  1. Structured data for machines 
  2. Data that alerts system administrators to a potential problem.

Monitoring is a general term that can include many aspects of system evaluation, but in this article, we are going to talk about Application Performance Monitoring (APM). APM is the process of enabling an application to collate, classify, and analyse metrics to better evaluate the use of the system by using parameters that: gauging availability, response time, memory usage, bandwidth, and CPU time consumption. 

Monitoring systems depend on metrics to alert IT teams to anomalies and vulnerabilities across applications and cloud services during operations. The IT teams would then proceed to ensure instrumentation and monitoring on all systems.

Logging and Monitoring integration

Logging and monitoring are two different processes that work hand in hand to provide a range of data points that help to  track the health and performance of an infrastructure.  While APM uses application metrics to measure availability and manage performance, Logging creates a record of log events generated from applications, devices, or web servers that serves as a detailed record of occurrences within a system.  

To get a comprehensive record on your infrastructure availability along with detailed insight into any issues which could potentially affect the user experience,employing both logging and Monitoring.   

 APM informs you on how applications are behaving and log data from applications, network infrastructure, and web servers greater insight that will tell why the application is performing as it is. An effective logging strategy increases application performance monitoring.

A perfect illustration of the integration of logging and monitoring.

Monitoring is the security alarm that alerts you when an issue occurs, and logging is the book that helps you keep records of the details of what happened.

Log Monitoring Solutions

SolarWinds Papertrail is a hosted log management platform for collecting and monitoring logs from servers, applications, databases, networking devices, syslog, cloud, and other sources.

Mezmo is a highly scalable log management and analytics solution that allows you to get fast responses for search queries even when dealing with enormous log volumes. It can automatically scan your incoming logs and provides sophisticated alerting features.

Graylog’s log monitoring software has free (open-source) and premium (enterprise) versions with comprehensive log analytics tools. This sophisticated tool uses logs to monitor large and complicated IT infrastructures.

ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer provides complete event log management and monitoring for a wide variety of networking devices, file and web servers, databases, and applications. In enterprise environments, it’s a popular option for end-to-end audits and real-time event correlation.

Sumo Logic is a cloud-based service that provides extensive log monitoring and analytics capabilities. It is designed for enterprises with a big cloud footprint. The solution may help with application and infrastructure monitoring in multi-cloud environments, and it has multiple integrations that allow for speedy decision-making and proactive problem resolution in CI/CD pipelines.

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