The Truth About Open-Source Logging

March 10, 2020 by Patricia Bennett

Like all IT solutions, open-source (O-S) logging has its ups and downs. Unfortunately, so much of what you read in online blogs and industry news publications is slanted either for or against these inexpensive alternatives. For example, cloud hosted log management is currently one of the most popular trends in IT, but it’s hard to find objective, detailed reviews of products. But when it comes to low priced or no cost logging solutions, it is possible to put together a short summary of the pros and cons, without having to promote or denigrate any particular product.

In a way, the O-S vs. paid argument is close to vehicle owners debating the finer points of manual transmissions vs. automatic ones. You can make a case for either one, depending on personal tastes, local availability, and how much money you want to spend.

Here is a cheat sheet on the upside and downside of #open-sourced solutions of logging. Click To Tweet

The Challenges

What are the key things people tend to mention when they are searching for either a paid or a no-cost logging program? Talk to any number of IT managers you know, and you’ll hear recurring themes centered around issues of complexity, cost, and time commitment. No one wants to reinvent the wheel every time they wish to analyze or search logged data.

The same thing goes for cost. There’s been plenty of complaining in tech management circles about the rising, and often unconscionable costs of retail, vendor-based programs. There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground between free and pricey. Finally, while the no cost offerings are easy on the wallet, they can be time-wasters in many respects.

What Open-Source Lacks

First things first. The O-S programs are great and get the job done, but you better be ready to face the lack of bells and whistles that can make life much easier. We’re talking about wonderful, timesaving extras like dynamic aggregation, anomaly detection, real-time alerts, dynamic search queries, and more. Yes, free is nice, but what if you want to drive a Honda Accord rather than a bare-bones vehicle like a Nissan Versa? (Nothing against the make or model, but Nissan has carved out a niche in the low end of the price range with their popular, no-frills Versa).

The answer is if you want luxury and convenience, you have to pay for it by opting for an on-premise or SaaS product that will definitely NOT be free.

Cost Considerations

You’ll often hear that (OS) programs are free, but what’s usually not mentioned is that there are costs for maintenance, set up and infrastructure.

Configuration Challenges

Setting up a simple OS tool can be a breeze, but if you need anything beyond simple, you’ll need high-level technical skills or the money to hire someone who has them.

Maintenance Issues

Amid all the talk about how easy set up can be with OS products, IT folks often forget that they’ll need to maintain the cluster to keep it scalable and in good operational order. That can be a hefty challenge and a very time-consuming one.

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