Why Log Aggregation is Always a Good Idea

Bringing giant piles of data from remote locations into a single location is a commonsense solution that few would argue against. But what, exactly, are the mechanisms involved in finding, organizing, and collecting all of a company’s logged information? Before answering that question, it’s essential to understand the current state of technology as it pertains to aggregation software from Papertrail, realize the whys of aggregating millions of files, become familiar with the methods that work best and, finally, taking a look at the everyday tools of this growing trade.

Company cyber personnel do many things with logged data; not only do they collect it from multiple locations within the system, they aggregate it, store it away, pull it out at various times to analyze it, search through it, and use the information to create reports. Taken together, this process is usually referred to as log management, with the aggregating phase just a single part of the entire chore. The key challenge at this point of the game is to translate lots of different formats into one. That’s the only way to create a usable database. Why is this task so essential for corporate survival, and what are the techniques and tools that managers favor? Here’s a short review of the three pertinent questions.

Why Should Managers Aggregate Logs?

There’s no other way to fully understand what your company’s computer system is doing without looking at the activity logs, also known as event logs. Just about every process that an organization runs on its system creates logged data. There are literally vast quantities of the stuff, and it must be stored somewhere. The big challenge is that these huge reams of data often come in different formats and are located in hundreds of places within the cyber architecture. It’s even common for larger entities to have multiple hosts, in which case there will be numerous logs residing in a virtually endless number of locations.

If your system reports an error in the payroll processing area, for example, you might need to search through thousands of locations to uncover the problem. Even talented system administrators might need to spend hours locating a single error. What’s the solution? Log aggregation because it brings all those hundreds of log files into a single location. That way, managers are able to search just one database for a reported error. 

What Are the Two Basic Methods?

In the simplest terms, the two main ways to aggregate data are copying the files to a central location or using a syslog type utility that, in essence, tells the log creation processes to automatically send all files to a single location. Once there, everything can be put into a single format for easy viewing, fast analysis and efficient storage.

What Tools Are Used?

Fortunately, there are many log management tools on the market, some of which are more sophisticated than others. The goal for management personnel is to choose one that is adaptable to a company’s network. Additionally, it’s wise to test-drive any aggregator software before fully implementing it.

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