This chapter introduces the syslog-ng Premium Edition application in a non-technical manner, discussing how and why is it useful, and the benefits it offers to an existing IT infrastructure.
The syslog-ng Premium Edition (syslog-ng PE) application is a flexible and highly scalable system logging application that is ideal for creating centralized and trusted logging solutions. Among others, syslog-ng PE allows you the following.
The syslog-ng PE application enables you to send the log messages of your hosts to remote servers using the latest protocol standards. You can collect and store your log data centrally on dedicated log servers. Transfer log messages using the
To minimize the risk of losing important log messages, the syslog-ng PE application can store messages on the local hard disk if the central log server or the network connection becomes unavailable. The syslog-ng application automatically sends the stored messages to the server when the connection is reestablished, in the same order the messages were received. The disk-buffer option is persistent – no messages are lost even if syslog-ng is restarted.
Log messages may contain sensitive information that should not be accessed by third parties. Therefore, syslog-ng PE supports the Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol to encrypt the communication. TLS also allows you to authenticate your clients and the logserver using X.509 certificates.
Most log messages are inherently unstructured, which makes them difficult to process. To overcome this problem, syslog-ng PE comes with a set of built-in parsers, which you can combine to build very complex things.
The syslog-ng PE application can sort the incoming log messages based on their content and various parameters like the source host, application, and priority. You can create directories, files, and database tables dynamically using macros. Complex filtering using regular expressions and boolean operators offers almost unlimited flexibility to forward only the important log messages to the selected destinations.
The syslog-ng PE application can segment log messages to named fields or columns, and also modify the values of these fields. You can process JSON messages, key-value pairs, and more.
To get the most information out of your log data, syslog-ng PE allows you to correlate log messages and aggregate the extracted information into a single message. You can also use external information to enrich your log data.
The log data that your organization has to process, store, and review increases daily, so many organizations use big data solutions for their logs. To accomodate this huge amount of data, syslog-ng PE natively supports storing log messages in HDFS files and Elasticsearch clusters.
Large organizations increasingly rely on queuing infrastructure to transfer their data. For that purpose, syslog-ng PE supports Apache Kafka.
Storing your log messages in a database allows you to easily search and query the messages and interoperate with log analyzing applications. The syslog-ng application supports the following databases: MongoDB, MSSQL, MySQL, Oracle, PostgreSQL, and SQLite.
The syslog-ng PE application is the ideal choice to collect logs in massively heterogeneous environments using several different operating systems and hardware platforms, including Linux, Unix, BSD, Sun Solaris, HP-UX, and AIX.
The syslog-ng application can operate in both IPv4 and IPv6 network environments, and can receive and send messages to both types of networks.
The syslog-ng PE application can store log messages securely in encrypted, compressed, and timestamped binary files. Timestamps can be requested from an external Timestamping Authority (TSA).
Depending on the exact syslog-ng PE configuration, environment, and other parameters, syslog-ng PE is capable of processing:
Over 635,000 messages per second (over 235 MB of data per second) when receiving messages from multiple connections and storing them in text files.
Over 615,000 messages per second (over 230 MB of data per second) when receiving messages from multiple secure (TLS-encrypted) connections and storing them in text files.
The syslog-ng application is not log analysis software. It can filter log messages and select only the ones matching certain criteria. It can even convert the messages and restructure them to a predefined format, or parse the messages and segment them into different fields. But syslog-ng cannot interpret and analyze the meaning behind the messages, or recognize patterns in the occurrence of different messages.
Log messages contain information about the events happening on the hosts. Monitoring system events is essential for security and system health monitoring reasons.
The original syslog protocol separates messages based on the priority of the message and the facility sending the message. These two parameters alone are often inadequate to consistently classify messages, as many applications might use the same facility — and the facility itself is not even included in the log message. To make things worse, many log messages contain unimportant information. The syslog-ng application helps you to select only the really interesting messages, and forward them to a central server.
Company policies or other regulations often require log messages to be archived. Storing the important messages in a central location greatly simplifies this process.
For details on how can you use syslog-ng PE to comply with various regulations, see the Regulatory compliance and system logging whitepaper.