Monitoring effectively with Cloud Logging in GCP

Introduction

What is Cloud Logging?

Logs may be used to track every user action, system fault, application transaction, and network packet movement in today’s digital world. This degree of insight into systems, networks, and applications is beneficial for resolving bottlenecks, reviewing historical trends, and forecasting future occurrences. When an application or infrastructure piece has a performance problem, it generates logs that can snowball in a matter of minutes.

When logs are left unchecked while moving to the public cloud, they can gradually increase expenditure over time. When using public cloud services, the total cost is generally calculated by combining different service aspects such as storage and data transit.

Google’s Cloud Logging feature enables you to maintain observability by having express, non-tampering logs that describe all the activity within your Google Cloud environment. Having the ability to store, interact, view and analyze the logs helps you in gaining valuable insights and supplements you in making better decisions.

With the Free Tier’s  50 GiB per project, Google’s Cloud Logging charges $0.5/GiB of ingested logs. While it normally only amounts to a smaller fee, there are times when these expenditures might surge. Although Google has been lenient in such circumstances and has issued reimbursements on occasion, it is critical to have basic control over such operating expenditures in order to prevent inefficiency.

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Types of Logs and their uses

There are multiple classifications of logs, and each type is created for a specific domain in mind. Segregating the data this way keeps confusion at bay, and allows you to analyze every transaction in an isolated environment.

Cloud Platform Logs

Service-specific logs that may be used to troubleshoot and debug problems as well as get a deeper understanding of Google Cloud services. These logs are created by GCP services and vary based on which  resources are used in your project or organization.

Security Logs

There are 3 types of Security Logs that function to keep a thorough record of data transactions with a security perspective.

  • Audit Logs contain audit records of Google Cloud resource administrative changes and data accesses.
  • Access Transparency Logs reflect Google employees’ activity while interacting with Google Cloud material.
  • User Logs are created by user software, services, or applications and written to Cloud Logging with the help of either a logging agent, Cloud Logging API, or client libraries.

Logging Exports

Log entries are kept in log buckets for a set amount of time (retention period), after which they are erased and cannot be restored. Configuring log sinks allows you to export logs, which will continue to export log entries as they come in Logging.

A sink consists of a destination and a filter that determines which log entries should be exported. Logging compares each log item received in a project, folder, billing account, or organization resource to the sinks in that resource. Each sink writes a copy of the log entry to the sink’s export destination if its filter matches the log entry.

Log Based Metrics

Log-based metrics are those figures which are dependent on the content of log entries, such as the number of log entries containing certain messages or the latency information contained in log entries. These metrics are primarily used in Cloud Monitoring charts and alerting policies. It’s essential to keep in mind that log-based metrics only apply to one Google Cloud project at a time.

There are two types of log metrics –

  • System Defined Cloud Logging provides all Google Cloud projects with system-defined log-based metrics. System log-based metrics are derived exclusively from included logs that have been processed by Logging. These metrics do not include logs that have been specifically exempted from ingestion by Logging.
  • User Defined Cloud Logging is a log-based metric that counts the number of log entries that fit a specific filter that was built by a user to track items in the Google Cloud project. Both included and excluded logs are used to construct user-defined log-based metrics. They are derived from all logs received by the Cloud project’s Logging API, regardless of any inclusion or exclusion filters applied to the Cloud project.

Cloud Logging Agent

The Cloud Logging agent sends logs to Cloud Logging from VM instances and chosen third-party software packages. Logs from GCE and AWS EC2 instances are captured using Cloud Logging Agents. The Logging agent is not included in the VM images for GCE and Amazon EC2 and must be installed manually.

It is pre-configured to deliver logs from virtual machine instances to Cloud Logging, which includes syslog and third-party apps like Redis. It also does not enable automated log parsing for third-party programs out of the box, but it may be configured to do so.

Benefits and Impact of Cloud Logging

 

Agility & Simplicity

Most cloud-based log management products have a straightforward setup process that allows you to start monitoring and analyzing logs in minutes. For log management, you don’t need to spend heavily in hardware or any supplementary systems up front. Agentless log aggregation is available in many of these solutions, making log aggregation very simple. Developers may need to copy and paste basic scripts for the initial logging setup in uncommon circumstances.

Security

Logs include critical information regarding application and infrastructure performance, and it’s important that this information doesn’t end up in the wrong place. Your applications’ availability and data integrity might be impacted if a threat  gains access to your logs as a result of a misconfiguration or security failure. In the worst-case scenario, this might result in a data breach and compliance-related penalties. Cloud-based logging, on the other hand, makes it easier to design standardized processes for log transmission (syslog TLS, HTTPs), storage (ISO-certified data centers), and access (SSL certificates) throughout the whole logging configuration. Organizations may easily improve their log security by having centralized management over their logs.

Integrations

Out-of-the-box capabilities and built-in interfaces with third-party tools for collaboration, alerting, visualization, and more are available with cloud-based log management systems. This eliminates the need for administrators to spend hours configuring tools and getting them to function together. DevOps teams, for example, may receive alerts and event summaries by integrating their logging system with platforms like Slack, HipChat, and PagerDuty. These connections speed up troubleshooting and make mundane chores easier.

Conclusion

In today’s digital environment, logs may be utilized to track every user action, system malfunction, application transaction, and network packet movement. This level of understanding of systems, networks, and applications is useful for identifying bottlenecks, analyzing past trends, and projecting future events.

By having explicit, non-tampering logs that describe every activity within your Google Cloud environment, you can retain observability with Google’s Cloud Logging functionality. Having the capacity to store, interact with, read, and analyze logs allows you to get useful insights and augment your decision-making.

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