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Logging

Some centralized logging tools

I have evaluated few different centralized logging tools, specifically the following:

  1. Grafana Loki
  2. Kibana
  3. Graylog
  4. Seq

In the short-term, I am using Graylog, but in the next few years, I might choose a different option.

The key features I have been looking for are:

  1. Lower hardware requirements – for a small startup without any revenue yet, I didn’t want to spend too much.
  2. Customizable retention period of logs
  3. Being able to backup logs to some cheaper storage such as S3 rather than having 100’s of GB on EBS volumes.
  4. Easily able to restore a smaller portion of logs for a certain period and be able to search.
  5. Being able to ingest various types of logs

Let me explain my personal requirements clearly.

I want to ingest all the logs from all possible sources i.e system logs, software logs such as web server, mysql audit logs, custom application logs. Currently my applications and servers are generating approximately 800Mb of logs per day. That would be about 25Gb per month and 300Gb per year. I want to retain logs for a longer period in archives for various reasons. I currently don’t have any products that need to meet compliance requirements. I arbitrarily choose 400 days worth of log retention and the logs need to be immutable. Once the logs are ingested, the logs need to be stored for 400 days and should not be modified. The reason being in the future if I need to meet compliance requirements, it would be easy to change the retention period and the integrity of the logs can be verified.

I have personally evaluated the following:

  1. Grafana Loki hosted at https://www.grafana.com.
  2. Self-Hosted ELK stack
  3. Self-Hosted Open Source version of Graylog
  4. AWS Cloudwatch

I have read about but have not evaluated the following yet:

  1. Self-Hosted Seq
  2. Self-Hosted Grafana Loki

Given the above I will tell you the advantages and disadvantages of each solution.

Grafana Loki hosted:

Grafana has a very generous free tier with 50Gb log ingestion and 14 days retention. The paid customized plans pricing was not clear. Considering the logs are hosted by a 3rd party, I would hope they would introduce some additional security measures such as allowing log ingestion from only certain IP’s etc… Even if the API keys are stolen or spied upon, the hackers cannot pollute the log data.

Self-Hosted ELK stack:

This is one very great solution but the setup and versions compatibility is very problematic. Self-Hosted ELK stack is a little heavy on resources. But definitely worth for SME’s who have the budget for the required hardware and few Server Admin professionals on team. As of now, because of the R&AW harassment, impersonation, I don’t know when I would launch commercial products. And these are recurring expenses, not one time expenses, so I am trying to set myself for success with smaller monthly server expenses. I wish these psycho human rights violators get arrested. There are ways to export backups into S3, almost a perfect solution

GrayLog OpenSource:

GrayLog is a bit heavy on system resources but requires lesser resources compared with ELK stack. Indexes can be closed but backing up and restoring are not directly part of the application. Probably part of the GrayLog paid version.

AWS CloudWatch:

AWS Cloudwatch is perfect if there is a need for compliance with retention policies and immutability. CloudWatch logs can be exported into S3 buckets. S3 buckets can be configured to be immutable for compliance reasons and S3 lifecycle policies can be defined for removal of data etc… But querying data is a little problematic compared with the ease of other solutions.

Seq:

Seq has a free version, seemed to be light-weight. Very easy to write extensions using C# (My primary development language). There is no direct plugin for for exporting data into S3 but a customizable plugin might be possible. There are plugins for writing into an Archive file. The Archive file can be exported to S3 periodically. Trying on localhost is very easy – pull a docker image and run the docker image. No complicated setup.

Self-hosted Grafana Loki:

I think pretty much all the capabilities of hosted Grafana Loki might be possible. However, I haven’t tried yet.

In all the above solutions, logs could be tampered by hackers except with AWS Cloudwatch. Once ingested, the logs stay there un-tampered. If Admin’s account gets hacked, the retention period can be changed or log streams might be deleted, but cannot be tampered.

As of now, I have not yet found the perfect solution for my requirements, but I am hoping this blog post helps some people in deciding between various different centralized logging solutions based upon your own requirements.

I don’t have any fake aliases, nor any virtual aliases like some of the the psycho spy R&AW traitors of India. NOT associated – “ass”, eass, female “es”, “eka”, “ok”, “okay”, “is”, “erra”, yerra, karan, kamalakar, diwakar, kareem, karan, sowmya, zinnabathuni, bojja srinivas (was a friend and batchmate 1998 – 2002), mukesh golla (was a friend and classmate 1998 – 2002), thota veera, uttam’s, bandhavi’s, bhattaru’s, thota’s, bojja’s, bhattaru’s or Arumilli srinivas or Arumilli uttam (may be they are part of a different Arumilli family – not my family).

Mr. Kanti Kalyan Arumilli

Arumilli Kanti Kalyan, Founder & CEO
Arumilli Kanti Kalyan, Founder & CEO

B.Tech, M.B.A

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