Developer’s Dilemma: When Is the Right Time to Invest in Log Management

by Paul S on July 27, 2021

Development cycles are complicated. If you’re on a development team, whether you’re building out a custom application, maintaining and iterating on a growing microservice, or breaking ground on a new platform for a startup, you have your hands full. Log management, though seldom celebrated outside hardcore DevOps and IT circles, is still a well-known instrument among seasoned developers. It is insight into the internal workings of your processes as they are used. If your code was a hopscotch outline, the logs would build a map of where the players’ feet actually touched down. That can be valuable in many ways, but most development teams have never made any investment into log management because it seems too costly an endeavor. 

Log management comes with trade-offs. It requires overhead, maintenance, and of course, money. The question for many developers is: when does the value of a log management solution exceed the cost of implementing and maintaining it? That answer is different for every team, and constantly changing as log management solutions evolve.

So, when is the right time to invest in a log management solution?

 

 

Old Barriers Into Log Management

 

The average software development team in the United States has no more than nine people. Usually, team size is closer to three. Big log management solutions are more often built for tech giants, ingesting logs from applications with massive deployments and heavy, international traffic like Netflix, Facebook, or even Amazon. Netflix, the smallest of the bunch, has over eighty developers. They are all looking to collect petabytes of information that will fuel machine learning, generate sweeping market insights, or allow them to optimize some miniscule process that has a significant impact at massive scale. 

The old log management solutions like Splunk and Datadog built deep, complex infrastructures to service these titanic use cases. It makes sense that the firstcomers went after the whales. Like many enterprise-level early movers, it takes teams of trained professionals to maintain and generate continuous value from these systems. The worst part for anyone trying to generate value from the data, though, was that before OpenTelemetry there was no standardized protocol for measuring and collecting data. It’s like building the Eiffel Tower from blueprints with no units of measurement. Ingesting the logs wasn’t the only barrier to insight – making the data workable, and then making it valuable also added to the overhead.

Smaller log management solutions that targeted more typical businesses are catered towards IT and DevOps professionals. They’re most useful for security and compliance, which is certainly a benefit that can serve developers as well, but not often something that small development teams are thinking about.

What does all of that mean for the rest of the tech world? The more common three-to-nine person teams might as well shrug it off and move on. It makes sense, given the traditional cost and overhead required to make log management a valuable endeavor, that most developers don’t think about it at all. If they do think about it, it’s as a future luxury that they can use to generate data some day when they can afford to hire a dedicated DevOps team. Very few developers peek over that perceived barrier to entry and consider what value log management could add to their development cycle today. More ought to.

 

The Value Log Management Can Add Today

 

Our applications don’t always function as intended. Ever had code with no errors still run poorly? Spent hours scrolling through rainbow stacks of someone else’s syntax looking for the misplaced variable? Or, the most common bane of the development cycle – ever spent an afternoon sifting through a stack of bug reports after releasing a deployment that tested perfectly before rolling out? Log management might make all the difference. 

In every example, one common theme rings true – hunting down and solving unexpected problems in any development cycle is a massive pain, and by nature one that often goes unaccounted for during planning. The goal is simple – find the cause, get in, fix it, get out, and deploy the patch so that you can continue working on the new stuff that’s piled up in your team’s sprint manager. Without log management, solving these common problems can feel like going on a treasure hunt without a map. You might have a general idea of where to look, and you will eventually find what you’re looking for, but it’s going to be a challenge.

Log management is valuable during development because it gives your team the insight needed to solve problems efficiently. In the past, that efficiency was outweighed by the relative inefficiency of existing log management systems. With low-overhead, full-service log management solutions like observIQ, generating that critical insight is a matter of a few clicks.

 

 

When To Invest in a Log Management Solution

 

It’s a truism in the development world that developers do not commit to a product or solution until it can solve a problem that they are experiencing at that moment. There are those in the industry that look down on such an imprecise strategy, but in the case of the average development team it is better to move as fast and as light as possible rather than bloat your dev environment with costly checks and guardrails that may solve some unknown future issue. Log management is no different.

Log management lives in the back of the mind for most developers, and that’s okay. The beauty of solutions like observIQ, compared to the old standard, is that they are always ready to go when needed. Build your team and break ground. Build out your stack as efficiently as you can, tying in outside solutions as problems arise. When it happens that you have a problem that you need more visibility to solve, that’s when it’s time to integrate a log management solution. The most important thing is to recognize that problem when it hits. It might not be obvious, but it will happen. 

In most cases, that problem occurs sometime shortly after someone from outside the development team interacts with your application, system, or website for the first time. End-users are frustratingly efficient at finding the hiccups in otherwise immaculate code. The potential of log management is to turn that frustration into insight. Every user that stumbled on a problem draws a map to the solution. 

The simplest answer to the question of when is – invest in log management when you’re faced with a persistent problem and don’t know where to start. If you think you know where to start, and eventually find that you were on the wrong track, don’t waste another second of your time. Deploy a log management system.

The better answer, and the strategy of the observIQ team, is to keep your dev environment poised to solve problems as they arise – or even before. With user-focused log management platforms like observIQ, deployment takes minutes and is self-maintaining. The system will continue ingesting and analyzing logs in the background, so the insight is already there when you need it.

 

Use observIQ For Free in the Development Cycle

 

observIQ only takes minutes to deploy. It’s an obvious solution to come to when visibility is needed. For those who like to be prepared, it offers an even better strategy – free log management. observIQ is completely free to teams shipping fewer than 3GB of logs per day. No payment information is even required. If you go over 3GB in a day, you aren’t charged, and nothing happens to your account. The service simply pauses, and if you don’t want to upgrade, it resumes the next day with a new 3GB cap. observIQ is the perfect log management solution to install early, keep free, and upgrade if needed when visibility becomes crucial.

 

Sign Up for the observIQ Cloud Beta

Download the Splunk Solution Brief

Sign Up to receive updates on our products

observIQ Support

For support on observIQ Cloud, please contact:

support@observIQ.com

For the Open Source Log Agent, community-based support is available on our:

GitHub Repository

Sign Up for Our Newsletter