5 Ways Log Analysis Augments APM
September 16, 2014

Gal Berg
XpoLog

Share this

While Application Performance Management (APM) is a vital tool to ensure application availability and performance, analysis of log data can augment APM to monitor, manage and optimize application performance.

From infrastructure, OS and web logs to home grown application logs and 3rd party software logs, you can extract valuable insights – using log analysis technology – that will help you better understand, measure and support your APM strategy.

The following are 5 ways log analysis can deliver results beyond APM tools:

1. Outlining the Steps in the Transaction Flow

The transaction flow of an application service is a set of interactions between the many components that enable that service. When a component fails in the transaction flow, it sets off a chain reaction of failures. This chain reaction can involve multiple steps across the environment, and other clouds, data centers and software components. You need to be able to efficiently analyze all of these many steps – and potential failure points – in the transaction flow, to identify the original component failure.

An ideal log analysis tool will enable you to identify – and even automatically collect – all the log events generated by a specific transaction flow. Once you have identified each log event type, it is very easy to collect all the information and investigate what happened. Each log event can provide insight into exactly what happened. You can see the chain of events, in chronological order, empowering you to track back through history to the root cause problem.

2. Determining the Root Cause of the Bottleneck

Bottlenecks are symptoms of an application performance problem, not the root cause. While APM tools can quickly identify a bottleneck, this is merely an indication that something went wrong. To fix the problem, you need to find the underlying cause of the bottleneck.

Bottlenecks in the transaction flow can be caused by a variety of factors. There are many breaking points where something can go wrong – infrastructure, software or within the application itself. In log files, you can find clues to what actually happened to cause the bottleneck.

If a single component within the transaction flow fails, this can start a bottleneck. When this occurs, a log analysis tool will enable you to see log events either from that specific component or from a component that interfaces with the failed component. These log events indicate where the problem lies.

For example, if a database fails, you will see a variety of bottlenecks across multiple transactions. This will trigger many logs with JDBC exceptions or data source exceptions across multiple sources. If you understand the messages within the logs – such as "database connection failed" or "out of memory exception" – you can determine the root cause of the bottleneck.

3. Detecting Configuration Changes

Configuration changes can have a significant negative impact on an application service. For example, configuration changes can introduce damaging infrastructure faults or application bugs. While a change may manifest as an application performance issue that you can identify, you need to discover the change that triggered this problem.

In these cases, it is challenging for APM tools to uncover the root cause of the problem because a configuration change does not directly create the problem. The change introduces a separate factor that causes the problem.

In order to fix the problem, you need to identify what was changed, and the effects of that change. Using log analysis, you can identify the original configuration change. Logs contain diagnostics information regarding failures and changes that happen during events. Leveraging these vital records, log analysis provides you with visibility into changes that happen on the application, infrastructure and configuration level.

4. Gaining Visibility into Stress

Stress on components in the transaction flow can cause application failures, so it is important to understand the impact of stress. With APM tools, you can see certain levels of load, but measuring load is not enough. You need broader visibility.

You need to look at what the application is doing semantically. Understanding stress is not only the number of threads that a server opens, or the number of transactions that the user is calling. Stress is something that eventually puts a tremendous load on the computation level, on the memory, on infrastructure resources.

A near real-time trend analysis dashboard – delivering valuable data gained from logs – will help you quickly identify potential events and growing trends that will become future problems. The dashboard can provide visibility into the stress on the application, not only from number of transactions, load, calls and logins. It also provides information on the number of complex queries the system is running right now; the average cost of each query; if the system is running a difficult cryptographic computation; the number of cryptographic computations, and so on. This provides visibility into which components are experiencing more stress over time, leading to potential performance issues.

5. Identifying Butterfly Events

Log analysis enables you to proactively search for "butterfly events" – mysterious events caused by an unexpected and complex chain reaction. The original cause of a butterfly event can be anything, and it is not clearly identifiable through traditional APM tools. Butterfly events are hard to find because there are millions of events out there and you don't know what to look for.

The right log analysis solution will show if an event occurred in the past; the first time the event happened; if an event disappeared from the system; and ultimately, if an event has meaning for the system, application or infrastructure. By scanning all log data silos, you can catch obscure events that may ultimately have an impact on the transaction flow. You can be proactive, and find and fix the problem before the chaotic nature of the environment translates into business chaos.

Using log analysis, you will be able to identify log patterns that have an impact on application performance, optimize your APM strategy, and drive better and faster APM results.

Share this

The Latest

September 21, 2018

The performance gap between customer experience leaders and runners-up is widening, with those on top being disproportionately rewarded. Gartner said organizations must ignore three myths in order to achieve a superior customer experience ...

September 19, 2018

This summer marked three years since Microsoft announced Windows 10, its first "Windows as a service" Operating System (OS). Windows 10 brought with it a new Software-as-a-Service-like approach to updates, moving Microsoft and the millions of environments that depend on it, more frequent, bundled updates. Whether you believe the shift was for better or worse, one thing is certain, this "as a service" model is a natural progression for today's operating systems. That is why Windows 10 is changing not only how frequently updates are pushed out, but inherently how technology is purchased, how people consume it, and perhaps most importantly, how IT is run. Let's take a look at how Windows 10 has impacted these three key areas over the past three years ...

September 18, 2018

To celebrate IT Professionals Day 2018 (this year on September 18), the SolarWinds IT Pro Day 2018: A World Powered by Tech Pros survey explores a "Tech PROactive" world where technology professionals have the time, resources, and ability to use their technology prowess to do absolutely anything ...

September 17, 2018

Are digital war rooms obsolete because they're just a place for managers of siloed business units to find someone else to blame for a critical IT event such as a security breach? Far from it. Enterprises find these emergency response teams just as important, if not more important, than ever ...

September 14, 2018

The goal of EMA's latest research was to look at how advanced IT analytics (AIA) — EMA's term for primarily what today is best known as "AIOps" — is being deployed. Here are the remaining four of my seven personal takeaways ...

September 13, 2018

OK, the data is in! The goal of EMA's latest research was to look at how advanced IT analytics (AIA) — or EMA's term for primarily what today is best known as "AIOps" — is being deployed. Here are seven of my own personal takeaways ...

September 12, 2018

By maximizing the knowledge of end-to-end quality of service (QoS) using virtualized network functions (VNFs), the SD-WAN (edge) gateway establishes a suitable connection with minimal latency and maximum performance so that entire organizations can make the most of the Office 365 application suite ...

September 11, 2018

Market exuberance for Office 365 has inspired business mandates to adopt the cloud-hosted collaboration and productivity suite without regards to the underlying chaos. While multi-location organizations are virtualizing, operating models haven’t necessarily changed. This partial transformation that excludes automation and simplification of the network puts Office 365 deployments (and other software-as-a-service offerings) in danger of failing ...

September 10, 2018

Most organizations are undergoing a digital transformation that directly impacts how they do business, yet 70 percent of employees have not mastered the skills they need for their jobs today, and 80 percent of employees do not have the skills needed for their current and future roles, according to Gartner ...

September 06, 2018

In a survey within the VMware User Group community, Blue Medora took a closer look at how various metric collection strategies and access to Dimensional Data impacts IT success. We started with one question: How important is your monitoring integration strategy? ...