Papertrail cloud logging service opens for public consumption

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Web service creator Seven Scale opened its cloud-based, log-management service Papertrail to general availability Thursday. Machines’ log files have always been important for troubleshooting, but are seeing increased interest with the advent of big data because companies have realized they can draw business-level insights from log data, too. Papertrail is coming to market at the right time — organizations are increasingly willing to embrace both cloud services and big data tools — but it will have to win its share of the limelight from some more-established competitors.

What Papertrail offers is a place to store, search and analyze log files from a number of different sources for a low monthly fee. The service can handle a variety of “operating system logs, app server requests, database queries, and router logs.” Among Papertrail’s features are a graphical dashboard, search capabilities via command line or RESTful API, and email alerts. Seven Scale hasn’t responded to my request for more information about the Papertrail service, but it appears to be hosted on Amazon’s (s amzn) EC2 infrastructure, as Papertrail advertises long-term storage using Amazon’s S3 storage service and advanced analytics using Amazon’s Hadoop-based Elastic MapReduce service.

Papertrail is saying and doing all the right things by offering its technology as a cloud service and pushing Hadoop analysis, but it’s not alone when it comes to log management and analysis in the cloud. Loggly (see disclosure) is probably the most mature and widely known startup in the space, and it features Hadoop-powered analysis as a core feature of its service. Other cloud-based options include the open-source Logstash service, as well as application-centric services such as New Relic and Hoptoad. Log-management heavyweight Splunk is blazing its own trail in terms of big data, and has suggested to me in the past that it might offer its software as a service at some point.

Our Structure 2011 conference, which takes place June 22-23 in San Francisco, focuses on the rapidly maturing cloud computing space, and the growing number of services like Papertrail is just further proof of cloud acceptance. What began as virtual machines and storage as a service has evolved to include even low-level services such as server monitoring, systems management and log management. The notion of performing all of one’s administrative tasks via cloud services probably is still a bit far-fetched for many, but it will become relatively commonplace soon enough.

Disclosure: Loggly is backed by True Ventures, a venture capital firm that is an investor in the parent company of this blog, Giga Omni Media. Om Malik, founder of Giga Omni Media, is also a venture partner at True.

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Kord Campbell

Great article Derrick. We really like the PapertrailApp offering and appreciate the thought they’ve put into their interfaces. We’re big supporters of any log file management solution and think there are plenty of logs to go around! ;) In fact, Loggly’s own Jordan Sissel is the author and primary contributor of Logstash, and we’ll continue to help fund and support development for it as a viable Open Source solution for managing logs on premise.

Just a slight clarification: We’re not shipping Hadoop-like capabilities yet, but will be releasing JSON field indexing within the next few weeks, along with real time search stream support for customer’s events. Map reduce-like functionality will ship sometime in late Q3 or early Q4. Our recent release significantly upgraded our volume support – Loggly now provides up to 8GB/day for paid accounts.

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