The Gist of Loggly’s Derived Fields Gesture
A top log management product vendor, Loggly announced an update to its tooling last month in the form of its new Derived Fields. The vendor has drilled down past the summaries in its Dynamic Field Explorer interface into Derived Fields that use metadata to structure unstructured log data.
Where traditional log management and analysis products have typically required you to create one-off regular expressions for custom analyses—expressions that you must build anew each time you want to put log data under a microscope—Loggly now enables you to use rules rooted in regular expressions that you create once to structure unstructured data when your systems first enter logs into the tool. You can look at resulting Derived Fields instantly, every time you need to do log analysis, according to Hector Angulo, Head of Products, Loggly.
The necessity for the Derived Fields capability arises from the fact that logs that escape structured creation contain so much untapped value. Until now, Loggly’s approach has been to automatically apply structure to common log types. “But we find that more than one-third of customer logs are still not structured. Even worse, many of these logs were created by developers for their own use, without the expectation that others would need to rely on them for critical troubleshooting. As such, it can be really hard for everyone but the original developer to decipher what specific logs mean,” says Angulo. Derived Fields attempt to retrieve 100-percent of that value from the log data by making analysis possible for any team member.
How Loggly Dogs Data Using Derived Fields
Loggly absorbs data from common log types such as Apache or JSON. By adding metadata that describes unstructured log data and then “injecting” context and structure into logs or parts of a log, Loggly’s Derived Fields reclaim obscure developer logs. Fields that uniformly describe the same kinds of data elements across logs enable users to compare data within logs to see what is happening across a DevOps environment.
Staff members who can create custom parsing rules based on regular expressions can set up the rules the DevOps teams will need at the start. Then, unless you come up with a new rule you want to add, your team members won’t have to create regular expressions again, and certainly not in order to search log data on the other end of that pipe.
Using Derived Fields
Using Loggly’s Derived Fields, you can drill down on a specific value in a field. Click on the field name and you can inspect all log events that have the same type of value. A summary chart above the individual event log will automatically refresh to summarize the events of the data from the given value, says Angulo.
You can easily see other log events that share similar data or characteristics in order to arrive at insights about what is going wrong, or right with the software.
How Derived Fields Help DevOps
“Rather than starting with an empty search box, Loggly starts off with bird’s-eye-view summaries using Dynamic Field Explorer,” says Angulo. From there, you drill down to fine grain details.
The time that Loggly’s Derived Fields save, time that it would normally take to create one-off queries for every analysis, is critical if you’re trying to solve a problem that is preventing end users from completing tasks and generating revenue for the business, says Angulo.
According to Angulo, Derived Fields specifically help DevOps teams to:
• Resolve issues faster because it is easier to spot the data that matters.
• Perform advanced analytics even with legacy applications that send out unstructured, text-based logs that you cannot update or don’t have the bandwidth to update.
• Extend advanced log analysis to more team members. You don’t have to be a regex wizard to gain insight from unstructured logs.
• Finally, the intuitive, navigable summaries generated in Field Explorer equate to less training time, less time with reference guides, and more time on data analysis and problem solving.
A Cautionary Note
As with any DevOps tool update, the proof lies in how Derived Fields work in your development process. Loggly touts 5K customers using its existing product. I’m sure they’re not trying to chase anyone away.
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