Efficient log management is crucial for organizations to achieve observability, troubleshoot issues effectively, and maintain optimal system performance. As software systems continue to grow in complexity, scaling logging on a budget becomes a significant challenge. But with the right strategies, it’s possible to achieve cost-effective log management without compromising on quality.

This blog post explores valuable tips and techniques to help you scale logging on a budget, optimize your log management processes, and drive value for your organization with the help of New Relic:

  • Selecting the right logging solution 
  • Avoiding common mistakes when selecting a logging solution 
  • Implementing tips for log management to scale logging on a budget
  • Centralizing your log management 
  • Implementing log rotation and retention policies 
  • Optimizing log collection

Choosing the right logging solution

When choosing a logging solution, you have many options, including open source logging tools and commercial products. It’s crucial to evaluate your options based on your organization's needs, resources, and budget to determine the best solution.

Factors to consider when selecting a logging solution include scalability, reliability, ease of use, security, and cost. Scalability refers to your logging solution's ability to handle an increasing volume of logs as your organization grows. Reliability entails ensuring the logging solution provides uptime guarantees and meets the organization's service-level agreements. Ease of use is critical for integration with existing workflows and team adoption. 

Security is essential for protecting logs and the organization's data, so choose a solution with robust security measures. For example, you can obfuscate critical data in logs to protect your user’s personally identifiable information (PII) and reduce the risk of storing that information. 

Finally, cost determines the budget allocated for logging and the available features in the chosen solution.

Avoid these common mistakes

To ensure your organization benefits from efficient log management without unnecessary expenses, you’ll need to avoid these common mistakes when selecting a logging solution. Some common pitfalls include:

  • Overbuying: Purchasing a solution with more features than necessary can lead to increased costs without providing additional value. Evaluate your organization's logging requirements carefully to choose a solution that meets your needs without excess features.
  • Underbuying: Opting for a solution that does not meet the organization's needs can result in inadequate logging capabilities, making it difficult to monitor and troubleshoot issues. Carefully assess your requirements to ensure the chosen solution provides the necessary features and scalability for your organization's growth.
  • Vendor lock-in: Choosing a solution that is difficult to migrate from can limit your organization's flexibility and make it challenging to switch providers if your needs change. For easy integration with other systems, New Relic allows for seamless migration if needed with almost 600 quickstart integrations, and also supports OpenTelemetry.
  • Falling into pricing or billing traps: Some vendors employ confusing pricing models or include hidden fees, making it difficult to estimate the total overall costs. Understanding these traps can help you make an informed decision when selecting a logging solution.

Tips for cost-effective log management

To scale logging on a budget, adopt best practices for cost-effective log management like these four approaches.

Manage your logs from a centralized location

Implement a centralized log management system, such as New Relic, that aggregates logs from various sources like applications, servers, network devices, and other infrastructure components. This centralization allows for easier and more efficient analysis, monitoring, and troubleshooting of logs, providing better visibility into system performance, security, and other operational aspects without context switching between tools.

Implement log rotation and retention policies 

Determining how long to keep and store logs is a challenge, but it also requires understanding the log lifecycle. For more details, see how to manage an application log

  • Archive and delete old logs: Storage and processing costs increase with log volume. Log rotation is essential for cost-effective log management because it helps efficiently manage storage usage and control costs by periodically archiving or deleting old logs, ensuring that only relevant data is retained. It's important to note that log rotation is a strategy best suited for on-premises storage. 
  • Retain what’s necessary for only as long as you need: Log retention policies are crucial for cost-effective log management because they define how long logs should be kept, ensuring storage is used efficiently by retaining only the necessary data. This approach not only helps control storage costs but also assists in meeting compliance requirements and simplifying data analysis. For operational purposes, 30 days is more than long enough to store your logs, though some companies and industries might require 90 days or more for compliance purposes. 
  • Review and update policies consistently: Regularly reviewing and updating log rotation and retention policies ensures that they continue to align with the organization's evolving requirements, compliance obligations, and storage limitations. By adapting to changes in the system or regulatory landscape, you can maintain cost-efficient log management while preserving necessary data and minimizing storage overhead.

Optimize how you collect logs

  • Identify essential logs: Determine which logs are crucial for monitoring application performance, security, and compliance. Focus on collecting logs that provide meaningful insights and actionable information.
  • Implement drop filter rules and aggregate logs: Implement log drop filters in New Relic, so only relevant logs are collected and forwarded. Aggregate similar logs to reduce the volume of data while still capturing vital information, using New Relic to create metric data.
  • Use structured logging: Implement structured logging to create logs with consistent, machine-readable formats, making it easier to process, analyze, and store the logs efficiently.
  • Implement log sampling: Employ log sampling to collect a representative subset of logs, reducing the volume of logs collected while still providing valuable insights.
  • Enrich your logs with metadata: Enrich logs with additional metadata, such as application, environment, or user information, to provide more context and facilitate easier analysis and troubleshooting.
  • Monitor log collection in real-time: Continuously monitor log collection to identify issues, bottlenecks, or inefficiencies. This allows for rapid adjustments and improvements to the log collection process.
  • Automate log collection and management: Employ automation tools and techniques to streamline log collection, reducing manual intervention and ensuring consistent, efficient log management.
  • Evaluate and adjust periodically: Regularly review and update your log collection strategy based on changing business requirements, application updates, or compliance needs. This ensures that your log collection process remains efficient and cost-effective.

Monitor and analyze logs in real-time

  • Leverage an observability platform like New Relic to gain insights into application performance, infrastructure health, and log analytics to address issues in real-time to reduce mean time to resolution (MTTR) and mean time to detection (MTTD).
  • Use log data to identify and prioritize issues, optimize log collection, and reduce overall log volume.
  • Proactively address potential issues to prevent expensive downtime, security breaches, or performance degradation.
  • In addition to being able to see, sort through, and use the log info you forward to New Relic, you can also use logs combined with other tools to get a broad picture of what is going on over your entire system.

Common questions and concerns about logging on a budget

Let’s tackle some frequently asked questions about scaling logging on a budget, and how New Relic can help.

How can I reduce log storage costs?

Using New Relic log management, you can optimize log collection by configuring drop filter rules to exclude irrelevant logs before they're ingested. By collecting only essential logs, you can reduce storage costs.

Learn more: New Relic log mangement and Drop filter rules

How can I ensure my logging solution is reliable and secure?

New Relic offers a secure and reliable platform, compliant with industry-standard security measures. It provides encryption in transit, ensuring that your log data is securely transmitted. Combining your log data with the data from New Relic infrastructure and synthetic monitoring, you can detect potential security risks and use that log data to prevent risks moving forward. To ensure data privacy and follow your organization’s log security guidelines, the New Relic log management service includes the ability to obfuscate PII, access tokens, and any other private or regulated data. 

Learn more: New Relic security and Control data privacy with New Relic log obfuscation options

What are best practices for log retention and rotation?

New Relic offers configurable log retention settings, allowing you to store logs for a duration that aligns with your organization's requirements. While New Relic doesn't directly manage log rotation, you can configure it to work with your existing log rotation solutions.

Learn more: Manage data retention

How can I efficiently manage log rotation?

You can use external tools and processes to handle log rotation and integrate them with your New Relic setup. By centralizing log management with New Relic, you can monitor and analyze logs across various sources, simplifying the management of log rotation.

Learn more: Log forwarding

How can I reduce log storage costs while maintaining observability?

To reduce log storage costs without sacrificing observability, leverage New Relic log management for optimizing log collection, dropping irrelevant logs, and analyzing essential logs more effectively. Use New Relic querying and visualization features to gain insights into application performance, infrastructure health, and log analytics. This approach helps you maintain adequate levels of observability while reducing storage costs.

Learn more: New Relic log management

Conclusion

Scaling logging on a budget requires implementing cost-effective log management practices. By centralizing log management, implementing log rotation and retention policies, optimizing log collection, and leveraging structured logging, you can reduce unnecessary expenses while maximizing value. Real-time log monitoring and analysis, along with automation, streamline processes and improve efficiency. Regular evaluation and adjustment of log management strategies ensure adaptability to changing business needs.

By following these tips and using tools like New Relic, you can achieve cost-effective log management, gaining valuable insights, improving troubleshooting capabilities, and optimizing system performance without breaking the budget. With the right approach, scaling logging on a budget becomes an achievable goal, empowering organizations to achieve observability and operational excellence.