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Logs and metrics: how important are they? BUSINNESS

Tracking an application is not an easy task. Over the past decade, user expectations from software providers have increased, as has the growth of cloud solutions, applications, and the simplicity of their onboarding processes. If a software provider does not meet the functionality, quality, performance, and user experience requirements of a company, R&D can easily explore other providers and replace their existing software with another one.

This also applies to the relatively new security and compliance standards, which are an essential aspect of any software. With these standards tightened, software companies need to keep up with the latest threats, provide both infrastructure and application solutions, and improve their level of service, availability, and transparency. If they don’t, their reputation will suffer – and they will lose customers.

This article describes the different ways that protocols and metrics can help your company maintain a high level of service, improve efficiency, and achieve business goals.

Functionality and performance: maintaining a high level of service

On Amazon Prime Day in 2018 Amazon’s website crashed completely. It just wasn’t ready for so many users and most customers couldn’t complete their purchases. Amazon almost estimated the loss $ 1 billionand her reputation suffered. Understandably, eBay, AliExpress, and other retail platforms were the big winners of the day – and the subsequent shopping days on Black Friday and Cyber ​​Monday.

The quality of a company’s service – which includes software functionality and performance, user experience and more – determines how successful a company is. To achieve a level of service high enough to attract new customers while keeping existing ones, many types of software testing and monitoring should be performed and applied. Both front-end and back-end components must be checked, and each component type has its own metrics and approval levels.

Rescue logs

Protocols are one of the basic tools that developers, quality assurance, and DevOps must master. Application logs are the main source of information for code behavior, system and infrastructure logs, database logs, web server logs and other component logs such as Kubernetes or RabbitMQ. You can help R&D make informed and informed decisions about the application by providing information about their actions and user experience. They can also help with root cause analysis and are the best place to write and save application-related events. Almost anything can be written to an application log, from application events to component states to running SQL queries or results – and of course debugging information and errors.

Together with the application protocols, all other protocol types (system, infrastructure, database, web server, etc.) provide an overview of the functionality of the software within the current infrastructure and size. This helps developers and DevOps to prepare a suitable solution and environment for the application. Collecting these logs can be very easy via a fluently Agent or by instrumenting the code to send the logs directly to the log management system (such as ELK or Graylog).

Metrics: The next level

However, protocols are not enough. Since protocols are event-driven, they only provide a narrow overview of the relevant component and cannot provide a comprehensive picture of all system components or over a longer period of time. But metrics can.

Metrics complement logs by expanding the view and examining the functionality and performance of the application over time and across multiple events. You can use metrics to determine what load the component is under and whether scaling is required to process it. You can also define the type of hosting and infrastructure that are required for the component or application as a whole.

Basic metrics include host or container CPU usage, memory usage, and storage capacity. These metrics provide a thorough understanding of the status of the infrastructure and how well it meets the requirements of the application. However, APM Metrics like slowest requests, highest throughput, most time consuming requests and even that Apdex Score, offer a deeper understanding. Using these types of metrics, captured and visualized by NewRelic, Nagios, or many other tools, helps research and development focus on use cases with performance issues and plan how to fix them.

Do you use nginx? Even better

As one of the most used web servers, nginx is constantly improving and offering its users new functions. It has both the web server aspect of providing content to users and load balancing for all requests sent to the application APIs.

When setting up a new application that makes content accessible on the Internet and needs to be received and processed, research and development must consider all product requirements and provide a solution that meets all of these requirements. Nginx, which can easily run on any server type or in a Docker container, offers developers the ability to receive and redirect requests from a user interface to the correct API, can act as a reverse proxy and control traffic to and from Application.

Nginx logs

Nginx maintains a set of protocols that help developers understand the status of traffic and behavior in the system.

The nginx web server access log, which is located in by default /var/log/nginx/access.log For most Linux distributions, logs every client request that the server processes. By default, the access protocol is activated globally in the main configuration file of nginx under /etc/nginx/nginx.conf. In this configuration file, users can define the domain name, the log path and the log format so that they are easier to read if necessary. The Nginx error log, which stores various types of application and general errors, complements the access log and helps create a comprehensive status of the production environment and provide a full audit of all events. You can find these logs in /var/log/nginx/error.log. The same configuration file also contains the configuration for the error log. In this configuration file, users can define the log level for the error log and control the level of detail of the file for each event.

When you build an application and use nginx as a web server, these protocols (along with other nginx protocols) help developers understand whether the setup was done correctly and see the flow of requests in and out of the system, which is also an overview about the error rate and the load the system is under.

Security and compliance: creating trust and clarity

One of the most important aspects of any modern application, especially cloud-based applications, is security. If external providers (not R&D) manage most, if not all, of the infrastructure, companies can be exposed to security threats that are not always under the control of R&D. To ensure security in this situation, detailed information is required on all requirements and activities in the application, from creation on the client side to the web server and the back-end services.

Logs + metrics

The ability to trace a user’s request is imperative for compliance, and knowing the origin of the request is critical to security and review. Logging is the only way to get this information, which is stored in application logs that contain all of the requests made in the application. The information must be continually checked to identify suspicious activity or misuse of services. Demanding attackers can change logs to hide their activity. In general, however, logs are the only source of truth for all application activities.

Live metrics for applications help by providing a broader view of application security. They can help identify attacks, so developers and security engineers can find a solution to the attack and prevent it from becoming too serious.

With regard to auditing and compliance, companies must save all customer activity data if requested to disclose it to customers or regulators. This is only possible by logging the activity at the component level.

Review and Analysis: Respond to and improve the user experience

Information logs can provide application owners and designers with user experience data. By analyzing the processes in the system, engineers can understand how users interact with the application, how long the browser takes to render and display a specific page, when each user leaves this page, and how changes in the application affect the user.

This information, along with metrics for customer business use and visitor-to-customer conversion, can help application designers decide how the user interface should behave and how the backend can support this behavior to enable scaling and work under stress.

Client-side and server-side protocols should be correlated and consolidated to provide a clear picture of the user experience that will later be used to understand the changes required in application logic and infrastructure. A common and useful system for performing this correlation and consolidation process is the ELK stack. ELK enables data to be parsed, transformed and buffered from all services, applications and infrastructures that report to them.

Conclusion

The reasons for logging and tracking application metrics vary from functional to monitoring. Logs and metrics simplify the day-to-day work of developers on root cause analysis processes, shorten response times in the event of security incidents, and provide valuable information to both system architects and product designers.

This information enables team members to make informed decisions about all aspects of the application – from hosting and scaling solutions to how the product works and responds to users. Protocols and metrics are added value that no company can ignore and should be a top priority for research and development.

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