A couple of weeks ago I trialled papertrail. Simply put, these guys rock. The application itself is great, simple and functional. But what sets them apart, above and beyond, is the service. Simply outstanding. I’ve been impressed with every interaction on their live chat, and more impressed by their seemingly non-stop presence in there, night or day.
The pitch is simple. Pipe all your logs into one place. Amalgamate the logs from multiple servers and applications, and dump them all into one place. Then provide a simple, easy to use web interface to monitor and search those logs.
It seems like a “so what” kinda product, but the effect is like going from dial up to broadband. The difference from dial up to broadband was not actually the speed, it was the always-on nature of it. Suddenly, when the net is only a click away, it becomes exponentially more useful. Papertrail is the same.
Before I had tried the service, I had difficulty seeing the value beyond my natural desire to be organised and prepared. But once I had all that data in one easy interface, subtle changes happened. I no longer use `tail -f` to keep an eye on things. I can watch the logs for the same service on multiple servers, colour coded (required a little CSS greasemonkey on my part), in a single flow.
Our logs are now closer. As in more close, not more closing! That has profound impact.
There’s another seemingly similar service called loggly. At our current estimated usage (2.5G/month) they’re free while papertrail would be $18 or $35 depending on how your price it. To get around that, I’ll likely exclude our static assets from the data we push to papertrail, it’s probably noise anyway. That brings us down to $7/month.
Just to see what it’s like, I created an account on loggly today. I don’t quite get it. The logs are not real time as far as I can tell. The focus seems to be on analysis. Trending, graphing, reporting. The interface is complicated, heavy. Maybe I’m missing something. If you’re a fan of loggly and can extol it’s virtues, please do so in the comments.
I might experiment further with loggly. It’s possible we’ll leverage the graphing capabilities of loggly at some point, maybe even in addition to papertrail. But for now, even at $7 instead of free, I like papertrail. I feel good about being a customer. That’s precious.