Servers Analyzing Web Server Logs

Analyzing Web Server Logs

Modern organizations track and log data for virtually all business processes, which is why web server log analysis tools are vital for effectively using this information to gain a clear picture of the state of your network. Event logs, security logs, transactions, web server uptime and CDN traffic are just a few of the types of logs you will collect.

Why Do I Need a Web Server Log Analyzer?

So why do you need a web server log analyzer? All of this data can quickly become overwhelming. To maximize data utilization, you must be able to easily find and analyze log files from a central location. Web log analysis tools allow you to filter logs, run live tail searches and query specific log data. These tools also present this data in a centralized view that can be accessed from anywhere. 

In some cases, analysis tools will also provide log management capabilities. Instead of inspecting data after it’s been recorded, log management deals with how you handle this data. This can mean creating policies for how you generate and store logs or automating when logs are archived after a certain amount of time. 

Pros & Cons of the 4 Best Web Log Analysis Tools

We’ve compiled a list of four web log analysis tools to help you begin your search and start making the most of your log file data.

SolarWinds Loggly 

SolarWinds Loggly is a SaaS log management and analytics provider focused on simplifying the log management process to take some of the burdens off System Administrators and DevOps. Loggly can be used with Amazon AWS, Microsoft Azure, hybrid cloud environments, IoT systems and microservices.

Pros: The Loggly dynamic field explorer combined with its full-text searches, ranges and booleans make it easy to parse through large amounts of data and find the information you need. It also provides robust graphs and reporting so you can identify trends and pinpoint unique network activity and the root causes of issues. 

Cons: The base package is reasonably priced but some valuable features, such as the LiveTail feature, are only available at an additional cost. So, the overall price tag can rise quickly depending on the number of features you need. 

Graylog

Graylog is an open source tool aimed at simplifying data exploration, compliance and threat hunting. There is also an enterprise version of Graylog available that’s priced based on how many licenses are on a server. Its flexible tool includes a REST API.

Pros: This tool is popular for its seamless scalability so it can grow exponentially along with web properties. It has load balancing capabilities and can handle several terabytes of data per day. Its built-in fault tolerance allows for multi-threaded searches to analyze and correlate multiple potential threats simultaneously. This allows IT teams to rapidly diagnose the root cause of issues.

Cons: Where Graylog lacks is its dashboard. Users find its visualizations and graphics to be limited. 

Splunk 

Splunk is a veteran in the log management and analysis space, having been around since 2003. Its offerings are specifically tailored to large enterprise organizations. 

Pros: Splunk makes providing real-time data a priority. Not only can you search through real-time logs, but you can configure thresholds and trigger conditions to send out real-time alerts to reduce event remediation time. This tool also includes in-depth drill-downs to support quick ad-hoc queries. Beyond log analysis, its log management capabilities shine among the competition. It includes powerful ways to determine how you will collect, store, index and visualize log files. 

Cons: Splunk is pricey because it’s made for the enterprise but its biggest fault is the ease of use. It’s a robust tool with a lot of advanced capabilities so there can be a steep learning curve.

Sumo Logic

Sumo Logic is a SaaS offering that’s pushing log analysis technology into the future by implementing machine-learning capabilities into its solution. The cloud-native solution analyzes over 100 petabytes of data every day. 

Pros: Sumo Logic’s machine-learning technology unifies logs and metrics to provide real-time insights into patterns of activity to identify issues that need resolution and reveal new opportunities for improvement. You can also create pre-defined metric filters to identify anomalies in the network. Sumo Logic includes an intuitive dashboard to show graphical representations of anomalies and other system activity, as well as offers the ability to extensively filter through logs. 

Cons: One consistent issue with Sumo Logic is that searching through the interface can be slow.

The Benefits of Log Analysis Tools

Effectively using the web log analysis tools can offer multiple benefits to make your job easy and ensure the efficiency of your network. Some of the benefits of log analysis tools include:

  • You can identify key trends and anomalies to get a clear understanding of the health of your network and where there’s room for improvement.
  • You can correlate event data with downtime across your network to identify the root cause of issues and troubleshoot them quickly.
  • Use these logs to identify unauthorized user access or suspicious activity to prevent data breaches and locate points of entry.
  • With all of your log files in a single location, you will reduce the time you spend alternating between different log locations to find the information most relevant to the task at hand.

How to Choose the Right Log Analysis Tool

When determining how to choose the right log analysis tool for your organization, focus on what specific features will best solve the issues you’re facing. 

Unique search features: Are you mainly focused on being able to find the log files you’re looking for as quickly as possible? Then look for a tool that has the most unique and robust search capabilities. These might include:

  • Filtering logs by server, application or custom parameters
  • Searching for individual queries
  • Performing granular searches
  • Performing searches in real-time

Dashboard: Do you want to be able to get a holistic view of the state of your system at a quick glance? Some web log analysis tools make it a priority to provide a clear and easy-to-use dashboard so you can seamlessly shift between views to determine the health, security and efficiency of your system.

Log management: If you want to reduce your budget or the number of tools in your tech stack, then look for analysis tools that have log management capabilities integrated into them to avoid implementing another standalone product. 

Cutting edge technology: Do you want to make sure your web log analysis tool is ready to handle the problems of the future? This may be of particular concern if security is a priority. Some tools now integrate machine-learning capabilities into their solutions to make your job even easier and ensure the efficiency of your system.

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