Managing logs is hard enough. Managing logs for hybrid multi cloud is even harder. That’s because a hybrid cloud infrastructure introduces unique challenges when it comes to centralized logging. Not only do you have to deal with more logs than you would when using a single cloud, but you also have more tools, log formats, and other variables in the mix.
Fortunately, these are all challenges that can be addressed. Here we’ll give a complete overview of issues with hybrid cloud log management and analysis, and best practices to help you to make the most of the log data generated by your hybrid cloud infrastructure.
Hybrid Cloud Logging Challenges
Before delving into strategies for working with hybrid cloud logs, let’s examine why log analysis on hybrid cloud infrastructure is hard.
On a hybrid multi cloud (by which I mean any type of cloud infrastructure that mixes together on-premises infrastructure, private cloud infrastructure and/or public cloud infrastructure and services), you face several special challenges associated with logging:
- Log formatting. If all of your workloads were running on one type of infrastructure, you would probably be able to use a consistent type of format for all of them. But log formats across the different infrastructures that compose your hybrid cloud probably take multiple forms.
- Multiple logging tools. An infrastructure that blends on-premises infrastructure with public and private clouds also usually involves multiple tools for collecting, managing and analyzing logs. You may have to use vendor-supplied tools for your public cloud, for example, while you use different collection techniques for your on-premises infrastructure.
- Varying levels of log control. You can probably configure logs for your on-premises and private cloud infrastructure in whichever ways you like. On public cloud, however, configurability is typically limited. You are limited to whichever logging tools and formats your cloud vendor chooses to support.
Hybrid Log Analysis Strategies
How can you solve these challenges and make the most of all of your log data, even on hybrid infrastructure? The following practices can help:
- Simplify your logging toolset. You might not be able to reduce the complexity of the infrastructure you use, but you can simplify the tools that you use to manage its logs. Where possible, choose log collection and analysis tools that can handle all parts of your infrastructure—the on-premises components, the private cloud and the public cloud. In addition to simplifying the logging tools you have to work with, infrastructure-agnostic logging tools also help you avoid lock-in, because they will be able to support new types of infrastructure if you choose to migrate in the future.
- Abstract-away logging nuances. You also may not be able to control how all of your logs are formatted, where they are stored, and so on. You can, however, choose log analysis tools that effectively abstract that variability away from you by letting you query logs using a single high-level interface that supports whichever specific formats your various logs contain.
- Strive for holistic as well as granular visibility. You want your logs to provide insight into the overall health of your entire hybrid cloud. At the same time, however, you also want the ability to track specific components of the infrastructure by disaggregating your on-premises, private and public infrastructures. When you plan your hybrid cloud logging strategy and set up your tools, keep this goal in mind.
- Plan for compliance. The compliance requirements associated with one part of your hybrid infrastructure may be different for another part. For example, you may need to retain log data for longer periods or have a more detailed audit trail for workloads that run on public cloud infrastructure than for those that run on-premises. Or maybe your compliance needs are just strict across the entire infrastructure. Either way, don’t forget to take compliance into account when you develop a hybrid cloud logging strategy.
- Prefer cloud-based logging. When it comes to deciding where you actually store your logs and host your logging tools, it’s generally a best practice to do so in the cloud. Cloud-based logging provides greater scalability (because you can increase your logging capacity without having to set up new on-premises hardware) and cost consistency (because you pay the same rate—or very close to it) per gigabyte of log data, and can therefore predict your costs accurately.
By its nature, managing logs for hybrid cloud infrastructure is more complex and challenging in many ways. But by simplifying your logging toolset, centralizing logging in the cloud and focusing on using your logs in ways that provide maximum visibility into your hybrid infrastructure, you can handle the special challenges of log management for the hybrid multi cloud.