Level Up Your Log: Pro Tips for Streaming Logs

Streaming logs is one of our most popular features. It's fast and flexible, giving operations teams more data from the edge than ever before and in real time. Since its release, we've seen Fastly customers use some cool tricks in configuring their log streams for a wide variety of use cases, and we wanted to share some tips.

Create Redundancy With Multiple Feeds

Setting up multiple log feeds for redundancy is so easy that it's often overlooked. Fastly doesn't limit the number of log feeds that you can create, and a parallel feed can be created in a matter of seconds.

This enables a new degree of flexibility in logging. Logging from your CDN is now something that can be approached with the same level of planning as any other tool in your stack. Based on what we've seen, the configuration is the easiest way to get started with a comprehensive strategy that accounts for redundancy and fast decision-making:

  1. Create a log stream pointing to your existing monitoring tools. This may be a syslog server you maintain or a service in a supported logging platform such as Sumo Logic, Papertrail, and Logentries.

  2. Create a parallel log feed pointing at an Amazon S3 bucket. Our standard S3 configuration defaults to sending logs in batches every hour, but this time interval can be adjusted. This should serve as a backup, or "cold storage," of your data. On a side note, Amazon recently reduced their S3 prices.

  3. Add a "quick view" service if you need a separate solution from your standard tools. Third party services like Papertrail are great for this. They provide a way for your entire team to quickly access your logs from any location, and this option won't disrupt your main monitoring tools or your backup logs.

Log Only What You Need

We don't really need any more firehoses in our lives. Data from the edge is now a solved problem thanks to the above configurations, so the biggest issue is figuring out how to actually extract meaningful information from that data.

If you're already using Fastly, you're probably familiar with our conditionals in configurations: "if statements" based on HTTP header URL content that allow you to fine-tune your CDN configurations so that they only affect certain segments of your traffic.

Streaming log configs can also take these conditionals, which allow you to create incredibly specific log streams, giving you the exact data that you need.

With these logging configurations, you can configure your service to stream only the log data that matches the conditional. There's no need to sift through a pile of irrelevant data in your logging tools if you can stop noise from getting into the system.

Some awesome use cases we've already seen include:

  • Setting up a user data feed for your marketing group to log only 200s, where the referer, user agent, and granular GeoIP information are included.

    • Format string: %h %l %u %t %r %>s req.http.referer req.http.User-Agent geoip.city

    • Conditional: resp.status == 200

  • A feed just for 5XX errors with additional data used for diagnosing the request, such as the Fastly POP in use, client IP address, regional GeoIP information, and whether the request was over SSL.

    • Format string: %h %l %u %t %r %>s server.datacenter req.http.Fastly-Client-IP geoip.region req.http.Fastly-SSL

    • Conditional: resp.status > 499

  • A 404 feed that logs referrer information to see if there are chronic broken links on your page or pointing to your site.

    • Format string: %h %l %u %t %r %>s req.http.referer

    • Conditional: resp.status == 404

  • Temporary log feeds used for tracking down elusive edge case bugs. If you know a certain URL path is occasionally erroring, you can set up a feed to log only if the request URL matches an expression and if the request status is equal to 503. You can then add diagnostic-specific information to the logs that would help you track down the root cause.

    • Format string: %h %l %u %t %r %>s resp.http.My-Debug-Header geoip.country_name

    • Conditional: resp.status > 499 && req.url ~ /path/to/debug

Logging Through the Fastly API

You can even spin up logs services with our API. The following cURL command will stage a service to log all responses to a syslog server, and include the referrer header:

curl -X POST -H "Fastly-Key:yourkeyhere" \
         -H "Content-Type: application/x-www-form-urlencoded" \
         -H "Accept: application/json" \

Obviously, that cURL command is a nightmare, so we recommend using an API client instead to save your sanity and soul.

If you already have a rapid, tool-driven operations workflow, you can build in automated creation and deletion of logs to quickly gather data as the need arises.

Make Your Data Work For You

Customers were excited when we first released our streaming logs feature, and then we took it even further when we later included support for additional logging-as-a-service platforms usage. We're just getting started, and customers are only just scratching the surface of what can be done. We're redefining what it means to have a CDN in your stack, and that extends to your logging as well.

It's time to put that edge data to work for you rather than spending your time sifting through yet another haystack looking for a needle. You can start setting up these configurations immediately in your app account.

If you don’t have an account yet, you can start testing with a developer account by signing up.

Austin Spires
Sr. Director of Product Management

4 min read

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Austin Spires
Sr. Director of Product Management

Austin Spires is Sr. Director of Product Management at Fastly, where he focuses on user experience. He’s been working on developer tools and customer happiness for five years, and frequently speaks at conferences and meetups. Before Fastly, Austin worked in sales and support at GitHub, where he helped lead customer onboarding. Originally from Texas, Austin plays a mean bass and likes drinking cheap beer.

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