When troubleshooting a misbehaving Web application, administrators will often first check the server’s logs for clues. Google is trying to ease that process by consolidating into a single location all the logs for user applications built on its cloud platform.
“Businesses generate a staggering amount of log data that contains rich information on systems, applications, user requests, and administrative actions,” wrote Deepak Tiwari, Google product manager, in a blog post announcing the new service. “When managed effectively, this treasure trove of data can help you investigate and debug system issues, gain operational and business insights and meet security and compliance needs.”
The Google Cloud Logging service, now available as a beta at no charge, aggregates into a single location all the logs generated by Google Compute Engine and Google App Engine.
The practice of log analysis and management has grown in sophistication in recent years, as companies such as Splunk and Loggly offer advanced technologies to collate and aggregate logs to help administrators better monitor performance and troubleshoot issues. The new Google service provides a similar way to trace an issue as it affects different components of an application running on the Google Cloud Platform.
Each instance of the Google Compute Engine generates about two dozen logs alone, and users can create custom logs as well. Google App Engine also creates multiple logs for each user project. Going through each log separately would be a laborious process.
The service provides a way to search all the log files at once, which can be handy for following the actions of a particular misbehaving component. An administrator could use the data to trigger warnings when certain thresholds are reached, such as storage space being nearly filled.
Google Cloud Logging can also store logs for extended periods of time, useful for backup and regulatory compliance. Google itself stores the logs for 30 days, though users can elect to move them to Google Cloud Storage for permanent storage.
The service sounds similar, but is different than Google Cloud Monitoring, which compiles performance reports of Web applications running on the Google Cloud.
The two services generate different sets of metrics, though data from the two services can be combined to provide greater insight into application behavior, according to the company.
The logging service can also be paired with Google BigQuery service, providing a way for administrators to query log data immediately after it is generated, allowing them to detect problems in near real-time.
One early user of the service has been Wix, a cloud development platform that uses the Google logs to monitor system performance and generate business metrics.
Google competitor Amazon Web Services offers their customers advanced log monitoring capabilities through its Amazon CloudWatch service. Microsoft offers similar capabilities with Azure Diagnostics.