Anton Chuvakin, Chief Logging Evangelist for LogLogic, gave me a call today. LogLogic is funded by Sequoia and does log management and intelligence. I wanted to learn more about LogLogic's foray into open source and, frankly, I wanted to learn about logs. What the heck is a log? And why is LogLogic's open-source hook...Windows?
As Anton explained (but which you can read here), computers keep records, or logs, of what happens on them. Information that might be logged includes which files are being copied, password changes, when a machine's time is reset, etc. Normally the opening and closing of programs, or what you do on them, is not logged, though corporations can get pretty granular on what sorts of activities they log. Compliance is the primary driver for log management.
LogLogic's open-source hook, however, is Windows, of all things. There are obviously lots of Windows systems out there. Oddly enough, there's no easy central way to collect, manage, and analyze those logs in Windows. If you have 10,000 systems, each with its own logs, there is no way to get all of these into one central log repository (unlike Unix systems, which allow this). Having logs in one place makes it easier to analyze the logs, among other things. Users have been asking Microsoft for this central log functionality, but the company hasn't done anything yet.
LogLogic has therefore built an open-source tool (Lasso) that allows administrators to corral these different Windows logs into a central server. Project Lasso is licensed under GPLv2. I find it
I asked Anton why it matters that the code is open source. He said that freeware is a bit outdated. if you're going to provide the software for free, there's no reason to not also open source it. That's the philosophical reason.
But he also suggested that open source allows people to trust Lasso because they can see that it isn't hiding anything. It does what it says it will do. Customers don't have to take LogLogic's word for it, and instead can take the code at face value, as it were.
Beyond that, LogLogic feels open sourcing Lasso is important so as to encourage outside contributions. Lastly, he mentioned that open source makes support easier. Rather than having to deliver a personalized patch for a customer (or force them to wait), open source allows LogLogic to answer forum requests by simply saying, "Go into the code and do X or add Y in order for Z to happen. Open source, in other words, lowers the cost and increases the speed of fixing user issues.
LogLogic doesn't open source all of its software. In fact, Project Lasso is a relatively small component of its business today. But it's an interesting addition to the open-source landscape, and hopefully success with Lasso will lead LogLogic to experiment with open source elsewhere in its business.