If you are responsible for managing and maintaining any type of IT infrastructure, there are various strategies you can deploy to make your life easier, and to avoid common problems.
The proper monitoring and analysis of log data is one such solution, so here is a look at why this is necessary and how you can achieve it optimally.
Log management is important because it lets you stay on top of significant events within your infrastructure, and determine whether action is needed.
This is a challenge in its own right, especially if you are trying to juggle a litany of logs from different infrastructural elements, be they software, hardware or otherwise.
Thus no administrator can afford to ignore logs, both for fear that they will miss out on important maintenance information, and that they may be overwhelmed by data.
First and foremost, proper management and analysis of logs is less arduous if you have the right tools to hand.
Thankfully you are spoilt for choice, as there are plenty of log monitoring solutions available, whether you are interested in analyzing IIS log files from your web server, or or keeping tabs on your broader infrastructure in a centralised fashion.
However, as with any piece of software, there is always the temptation to get the best performance out of it by making unnecessary improvements to the product. In many cases, these can be avoided if you first consider a bespoke monitoring solution that can save you from unnecessary headaches, and give you the performance you need.
Of course, even if you have suitable tools for the job at hand, you still need to formulate a sensible, standard approach to dealing with the deluge of log data to avoid being swamped.
Standardization is significant because it not only gives you a framework for your own efforts, but also means that others can come in and take charge without being baffled by what they find.
Another perk is that you will be able to set base levels of detail for the logs themselves, so that your troubleshooting endeavors are more likely to be successful.
While log monitoring might seem like a reactive pursuit, it can still benefit from being conducted with specific goals in mind.
For example, your main aim might be to preempt future problems by assessing current performance issues and reacting to early warning signs. Or, having identified root causes for a problem, you might want to investigate the impact of that change, which can be expressed in a variety of ways.
Following on from the idea that your log monitoring should be standardized, it is definitely worth examining your practices from an accessibility perspective.
Specifically, you need to recognize the need to format the logs in a way that makes them comprehensible by others; even something as simple as using a consistent way of expressing the time and date of the event can have a big impact.
Furthermore it is necessary to ensure that your logging preserves as much of the context of the event as possible, so that the data does not seem isolated and impregnable when colleagues stumble across it.
Finally, be sure to embrace a tiered approach to logging, so that the most serious issues can be prioritized, while the less pressing problems can be pushed further down the to-do list.
As you might have guessed, a lot of this hard work can be done when configuring your logs and implementing your monitoring tools, so the more effort you put in up top, the more time you will save in the long term.
Log monitoring and analysis is not the most glamorous part of keeping your infrastructure ticking over, but neither does it need to be tedious or taxing. Embrace best practices and make changes where necessary, and your log data will start to work for you.