Moving from Elastic to Humio

Humio
February 09, 2018

Optimising Performance while Minimising Resources and Complexity

The challenge

Mono Solutions is a Danish company providing a platform for its partners worldwide to help their customers build modern, data-driven websites. Through its own content delivery network, Mono Solutions is responsible for almost half a million websites and, of course, such an operation has a huge number of moving parts.

Why Humio

Serving millions of website visitors every day, each component in the system’s infrastructure generates huge numbers of log entries. From enabling website owners to keep track of who’s visiting their site to monitoring and alerting, those log entries are vital to the smooth running of the platform. That’s why David Højelsen, co-founder and CTO, has placed a high value into finding the right log management tool. According to David, Mono Solutions tried a number of ways to manage their logs before switching to Humio. Most recently, they had their own Elastic instance with Kibana as the front-end. But as David explains, it became too painful to manage:

“We had a set-up where we streamed all the logs from across our infrastructure to a central log server. That server then generated indexes and allowed us to monitor those logs. But the whole thing was a pain because there was no real good way of scaling it. The more traffic we got, the more load on that poor server.”

Business was going great, but as more people built websites on their platform, the burden on their Elastic instance grew: 

“It was annoying to manage the Elastic instance and the cost kept rising. In fact, just managing the servers for our old Elastic set-up costs more than the whole cost of using Humio.”

Something had to change. Then, one of Mono Solutions’ lead engineers met the Humio team at a conference. When he showed him Humio, David was immediately impressed. Not only was Humio a hosted service, allowing them to free themselves of managing an ever-growing cluster, it was also built from the ground-up as a dedicated log management tool, meaning it was fast and easy to query:

“We started playing around with Humio and we really liked both the speed and how extremely easy it is to query. It’s just a dream to pipe things to different query functions and then produce visual graphs of data.”

For a company that relies so heavily on log data, Humio quickly became a central part of Mono Solutions’ infrastructure:

“It’s something we use on a daily basis and we’re moving more and more into Humio. So across our company, we have many people using Humio. In fact, we have a big dashboard with all our metrics visible in our development department.”

Humio has even allowed them to build product features that weren’t feasible with their previous solution. Exemplifying what this possibility means, David explains "... we’re considering building a Humio dashboard for our resellers, so that they can monitor their traffic. Humio’s flexibility is really important to us.”

But such flexibility is about more than just the tool; it's just as much about the Humio team:

“We had a few feature requests and they’ve all been met. More interestingly, though, we recently suffered a small DDoS attack. It wasn’t enough to affect site performance, but we wanted to get better metrics on the attack. I happened to be at a conference at the time where Humio also had a booth. So I chatted to them at the booth and within a week they’d rolled out specific, new functions to help with that type of query."

The Result

Since switching to Humio, Mono Solutions has been able to focus on making use of their log data rather than having to manage their own logging infrastructure. Log data now streams from each of their system’s nodes directly into Humio, without any aggregation. But what really makes Humio special to David is that it fits how developers and ops people already like to work:

“It was a hassle doing something custom in Elastic as you had to understand the complex Elastic language. With Humio, anyone who’s familiar with a Unix pipe can easily make the most of its querying abilities. So, Humio not only manages all our log data but also allows us to do real-time, complex queries on our log stream that wasn't possible before.”

With billions of log entries and hundreds of thousands of websites worldwide, Mono Solutions has made Humio a crucial part of their infrastructure. Thanks to Humio, they have an affordable, scalable, and powerfully queryable logging solution.  

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