Today, most IT administrators are dealing with a wide range of legacy equipment, physical and virtual servers, applications, and cloud-based resources. The logs generated by these systems and applications help administrators ensure their distributed environment maintains high availability. These logs are also helpful for meeting numerous security and compliance requirements. As organizations grow, however, their IT environments become more complex. This creates many challenges in log management and analysis. You cannot SSH into individual servers and monitor logs individually when you have to monitor hundreds of log files. Managing a massive volume of logs with traditional self-managed tools and processes can get hectic and costly. This is where log aggregator tools offer a solution.
A log aggregation service can help you collect logs from different sources and manage them in a centralized location. Most hosted or cloud-based log aggregators offer added features such as automated parsing, tagging, and filtering; search and live tail capabilities; and visual dashboards to help you easily analyze logs. In this article, we’ll list some popular open-source and commercial tools offering log aggregation and monitoring capabilities.
Top 7 Best Log Aggregator Tools
1. SolarWinds Papertrail
SolarWinds® Papertrail™ is a popular cloud-based log management solution among DevOps teams. In addition to collecting and managing logs, Papertrail streamlines real-time monitoring of logs and metrics from the cloud and from various networking devices, servers, databases, and applications. The solution is known for its powerful and developer-friendly event viewer, which supports live tail. With this event viewer, you can get a live view of your environment and an event feed presented in an infinite scroll. You can pause this feed at any moment to inspect a critical event, and afterward, you can resume and scroll down to continue monitoring. Furthermore, you can skip to a specific time to inspect events of interest.
The search function in Papertrail supports common search operators, though you can also drill down to get finer details with complex queries. With these features and many others, Papertrail makes log management and monitoring simple for developers. The product also offers easy integration with popular services like Slack and HipChat for alerts and notifications.
Logstash is a part of the Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Kibana (ELK) log monitoring stack, and it is among the most popular log aggregator services. Logstash is an open-source log aggregator supporting log ingestion from common and rare log formats. In addition to logs, it can help you collect a wide range of metrics from different AWS services and web applications. The tool also transforms your unstructured logs into structured logs, as it can parse and detect named fields in the logs. This helps you efficiently analyze your logs by using different filters and makes your log data ready for visualization. Because logs are converted to a common structured format, you can correlate events from different sources, connect dots, and detect anomalies. Additionally, this tool can anonymize your customers’ personally identifiable information, which can help you meet several compliance mandates.
Fluentd is another open-source log aggregator. It’s commonly employed in log monitoring setups requiring log ingestion from cloud-native applications, and it offers capabilities similar to those in Logstash. However, the configuration in Fluentd can be more complex. Unlike Logstash, Fluentd has a decentralized plug-in repository, meaning there are abundant plug-ins to choose from. A lack of support for the Windows platform used to be a major drawback affecting the tool’s adoption, but Fluentd now supports Windows.
Graylog is a powerful log management solution available in open-source and commercial variants. The tool can collect logs from common sources and offers built-in fault tolerance against network failures, ensuring your logs are collected reliably without any losses or deletions. Furthermore, Graylog allows you to create customized dashboards to visually monitor events and trends. You can download configurations for alerts, dashboards, and more from the Graylog marketplace, which can significantly expedite its initial installation. The enterprise version of Graylog offers high scalability to support massive log volumes and an event correlation engine to find anomalies and proactively resolve issues.
5. ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer
ManageEngine EventLog Analyzer offers an exhaustive set of log management capabilities. The tool is part of Log360, the ManageEngine security information and event management (SIEM) suite. EventLog Analyzer can ingest logs from a wide range of network devices, servers, and applications, supporting both agent-based and agentless log collection. It also offers real-time event correlation and can process data from thousands of logs every second. These features can be helpful in detecting and mitigating threats in enterprise networks, and the tool also offers out-of-the-box templates for compliance reporting.
6. Sumo Logic
Sumo Logic is a cloud-based solution offering comprehensive log management and analytics features. Though it supports log aggregation, the tool’s primary highlight is its analytics. It can easily analyze massive log volumes in complex hybrid cloud environments using its proprietary machine learning or ML-based algorithms. With these features, organizations can easily detect anomalies in their operational and security data to thwart cyberattacks, resolve performance bottlenecks, and avoid compliance lapses. However, if you’re looking for a simple log aggregation tool with support for search, live tail, and alerts, this solution may be a bit too complex and overpriced.
LogDNA is a modern Kubernetes-based log management and analysis tool designed to help you analyze massive log volumes for real-time monitoring. The tool can be deployed in multi-cloud environments and even on your on-premises servers. LogDNA can quickly ingest logs from different sources, and it supports automated parsing for a wide range of log formats. You can also define custom parsing rules and “views” to control the amount of information you see and focus on important fields in your logs. Furthermore, the tool offers faster results for your search queries and allows you to tail logs for real-time awareness. Despite its wide range of features, LogDNA offers a familiar interface for developers.
The Best Log Aggregator Tool
In our study of log aggregators, many of the open-source tools offered a high level of flexibility but required complex configurations. Unfortunately, these complex configurations require significant time and effort. On the other hand, some commercial log aggregation tools are part of SIEM suites. An extensive set of features for log analytics might be a useful criterion for some organizations, but if you’re looking for cloud-based log aggregation with just search, real-time visibility, and alerts features, then Papertrail is your best option. It offers a quick and easy setup with flexible pricing options. You can also start with a free trial and customize a plan later.