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

May 20, 2019

In today's competitive landscape, businesses must have the ability and process in place to face new challenges and find ways to successfully tackle them in a proactive manner. For years, this has been placed on the shoulders of DevOps teams within IT departments. But, as automation takes over manual intervention to increase speed and efficiency, these teams are facing what we know as IT digitization. How has this changed the way companies function over the years, and what do we have to look forward to in the coming years? ...

May 16, 2019

Although the vast majority of IT organizations have implemented a broad variety of systems and tools to modernize, simplify and streamline data center operations, many are still burdened by inefficiencies, security risks and performance gaps in their IT infrastructure as well as the excessive time it takes to manage legacy infrastructure, according to the State of IT Transformation, a report from Datrium ...

May 15, 2019

When it comes to network visibility, there are a lot of discussions about packet broker technology and the various features these solutions provide to network architects and IT managers. Packet brokers allow organizations to aggregate the data required for a variety of monitoring solutions including network performance monitoring and diagnostic (NPMD) platforms and unified threat management (UTM) appliances. But, when it comes to ensuring these solutions provide the insights required by NetOps and security teams, IT can spend an exorbitant amount of time dealing with issues around adds, moves and changes. This can have a dramatic impact on budgets and tool availability. Why does this happen? ...

May 14, 2019

Data may be pouring into enterprises but IT professionals still find most of it stuck in siloed departments and weeks away from being able to drive any valued action. Coupled with the ongoing concerns over security responsiveness, IT teams have to push aside other important performance-oriented data in order to ensure security data, at least, gets prominent attention. A new survey by Ivanti shows the disconnect between enterprise departments struggling to improve operations like automation while being challenged with a siloed structure and a data onslaught ...

May 13, 2019

A subtle, deliberate shift has occurred within the software industry which, at present, only the most innovative organizations have seized upon for competitive advantage. Although primarily driven by Artificial Intelligence (AI), this transformation strikes at the core of the most pervasive IT resources including cloud computing and predictive analytics ...

May 09, 2019

When asked who is mandated with developing and delivering their organization's digital competencies, 51% of respondents say their IT departments have a leadership role. The critical question is whether IT departments are prepared to take on a leadership role in which collaborating with other functions and disseminating knowledge and digital performance data are requirements ...

May 08, 2019

The Economist Intelligence Unit just released a new study commissioned by Riverbed that explores nine digital competencies that help organizations improve their digital performance and, ultimately, achieve their objectives. Here's a brief summary of 7 key research findings you'll find covered in detail in the report ...

May 07, 2019

Today, the overall customer scenario has digitally transformed and practically there is no limitation to the ways in which the target customers can be reached. These opportunities are throwing multiple challenges for brands and enterprises, and one of the prominent ones is to ensure Omni Channel experience for customers ...

May 06, 2019

Most businesses (92 percent of respondents) see the potential value of data and 36 percent are already monetizing their data, according to the Global Data Protection Index from Dell EMC. While this acknowledgement is positive, however, most respondents are struggling to properly protect their data ...

May 02, 2019

IT practitioners are still in experimentation mode with artificial intelligence in many cases, and still have concerns about how credible the technology can be. A recent study from OpsRamp targeted these IT managers who have implemented AIOps, and among other data, reports on the primary concerns of this new approach to operations management ...