Shots fired: According to DevOps Digest, log analytics is dead. Taking its place is a larger, more comprehensive solution known as “application analytics” which combines critical data from logs, metrics, transactions, topology and changes to produce real-time insight on demand. But is this really the end for log-based tools or are companies putting the application cart before the horse?

Cut Down to Size

On the surface, log-based tools make sense – they gather information from multiple continuously-updated sources which are later parsed for actionable insight. The problem? Installing log instrumentation everywhere in your network and ensuring all of these instruments are constantly monitored is an easy way to blow your IT budget and drive IT professionals crazy. What’s more, while logs can often report the existence of a problem, they don’t offer insight about the underlying issue, meaning companies must leverage other IT solutions to pinpoint first causes.

The Digest piece argues for the development of “next level” log functions based on applications and designed to capture pertinent network data without the need for continual monitoring. But this underestimates the value of log tools and overstates the importance of applications. But that’s not the biggest problem. The larger issue is none of these approaches accounts for the critical value of end-users.

Gotta Have Faith

According to TechRadar, end-users are losing faith in IT support staff – 45 percent of end-users will attempt to resolve tech issues on their own before contacting support, with 30 percent reaching out to peers and colleagues who aren’t members of the IT team. More worrisome? 17 percent of workers said they “didn’t believe their IT support desk could solve their performance issues or answer their technical questions.” The TechRadar piece suggests leveraging end-user analysis tools, able to monitor employee interactions with the network, and pinpoint problems before users themselves are aware of any issue. IT can then offer proactive support rather than waiting for employees to reach out.

As noted by IT Brief, end-user analytics tools also empower the creation of evidence-based policy in an organization since these tools provide hard data about how users interact with a system and how the system responds. Best practices created in response to this data, therefore, are based on observable fact rather than potentially flawed estimation.

The New Log?

Perhaps logs aren’t dead. Perhaps they simply need a new, tighter focus. Ultimately, that’s the goal of end-user analytics tools — create a living, reactive log file of all end-user interactions and issues and use that log to empower IT response. Think of it like this: existing log tools act separately from the functional “network tree” of your organization. As a result, they’re effectively reporting dead data because they’re at arm’s length rather than a part of your organizational framework. Lightweight, fully integrated end-user analytics tools, meanwhile, are another branch off of your network trunk, able to tap the full depth and height of existing infrastructure to deliver actionable data.

Log is dead. Long live the new log.