Visualise complex log analysis and enhance them to answer tough questions easily.

As human beings we are not capable of consuming data anywhere near the rate modern applications generate. We cannot touch data, hear it, smell it or taste it. However, we are amazing visual creatures. We have the power to summarize vast amounts of information into condensed visual form. Thus, the ideal method of consuming and analyzing data is through sight, through visualization. A picture speaks a thousand words and at Scalyr we log all kinds of data at 200TB/day per customer. How can we put those words into a picture?

This is where two very important pieces of technology come together.

Scalyr PowerQuery is the answer to the engineering question, “What if you could SQL query any data regardless its structure or preprocessing?” PowerQuery allows you to derive analytics from any data that you have ingested into Scalyr. We can now question terabytes of data and receive a summary of the information. Preprocessing is recommended but can be done just-in-time via PowerQuery parse

The second important piece of technology we need is, of course, visualization. Google Data Studio is an easy-to-use data visualization and reporting tool. Data Studio allows you to connect to data sources through a wide variety of “connectors.”. This blog introduces the Scalyr PowerQuery connector.

To demonstrate the Scalyr PowerQuery connector and Google Data Studio visualizations in action, I have used data from Scalyr’s Service Performance Monitoring (SPM) live demo data. SPM allows you to automate the aggregation of logs into services and operations without changing your application instrumentation. After a mapping process, developers and SREs can easily view RED (Rate, Error, Duration) metrics and graphs for each service, and for each operation under that service. You can read more about Scalyr SPM here.

Figure 1: Screen capture of report generated for the RED (Rates, Errors, and Durations) method for Service Performance Monitoring using Google Data Studio. Interactive Demo

Billions of logs lines are queried in a matter of seconds to have a near real time report on serverless microservices comprising a typical service. As you modify the date range (illustrated above), the corresponding data will load smoothly. Do we really need static reports anymore?

The Scalyr service has its own useful visualizations for graphs, metrics and traces. They more than suffice for SRE/DevOps. Data Studio’s ability to combine disparate data sources, an inexhaustive list of new use-cases are possible for more people across the organization. This analysis can be done without moving your data around unlike traditional solutions that require data to be copied or indexed.

Below (Figure 2) we have another example. We are joining otherwise independent data sources, Scalyr data, Google Maps, and an SQL Database.

Figure 2: Mapping positional data from IoT logs to Google Maps within GDS.

The second table with Heat Map of Scalyr web transactions logs joined with threat intelligence in a private SQL datastore. The IP address from logs is joined with the IP address from Threat Intelligence and Fraud database to filter for only the fraudulent transactions.

Figure 3: Google Data Studio can link your data with other datasets. Google BigQuery and Scalyr log source

Both Figure 2 and Figure 3 have a heat map that provides a risk scoring overlay so we can visually have the attention needed to a particular data point.

In summary, Scalyr PowerQueries combined with Google Data Studio create powerful visualizations that are informative and quick to set up. Check out Scalyr’s documentation here, and to get the PowerQuery Connector, check out Google’s Data Studio connector gallery here. We look forward to hearing interesting stories from our Scalyr community of users so do share with us how you are using the new Connector.

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