Today’s companies use many log management methods, some better than others. But when it comes down to choosing for your business, you’ll likely end up deciding among four main categories of systems: DIY, outsourced, retail and a combination of those three. In just the past few years, the do-it-yourself technique has been dying a slow death as inexpensive retail products arrive on the market, and as computer systems continue to become more complex. In the end, the great majority of IT department heads turn to the retail shelf or hire someone else to do the entire chore for them.

Build Your Own

You can use an in-house team to build an entire logging management system from scratch. If that sounds difficult and risky, it is. You’ll need several team members who possess highly advanced IT skills, someone who knows how to explain the workings of the new system to other employees and endless patience. In fact, nowadays there are very few organizations, apart from sole proprietorships and tiny firms, that go this route. Even though it can seem like a prudent path for cash-strapped startups, it usually ends up costing more than expected.

Outsource the Job

Some of the world’s largest organizations, both for and not-for-profit, opt to outsource the entire log management headache. Of all the methods, this is the most expensive one because you’re essentially hiring someone else’s team to do what can amount to a ton of hard work. The main advantage of outsourcing is that you never have to worry about the task again. The rather major downside is that you need to spend a lot of time finding a provider you can trust and who has solid references. Fortunately, there are dozens of reliable outsource providers to choose from, so you might end up deciding on price alone.

Buy What You Need

When in doubt, buy what you need. Even though some of the top programs in this niche can be pricey, companies that can afford to get an out-of-the-box system have lots of choices. Most come complete with a network log analyzer tool that is both speedy and thorough, as well as all the other tools needed for collecting, reporting, storing and managing log data.

Use the DIY Until We Decide Technique

In the real world, many site administrators decide to use an eclectic strategy for the job. Smaller companies often use this technique with great success, so there must be something to it. In its usual iteration, managers who approve of the combo method let a small group of programmers work on an in-house “built it yourself” log management system. This usually entails free software and off-shore resources that cost nothing or very little to acquire. If the team comes up with a winning solution, and nothing else has worked satisfactorily, then it might suffice until a more permanent log management tool is found. But in the meantime, programmers continue to test retail products and outsourcing options, comparing them based on price, efficiency and practicality.