5 Things Your Data Log Should Do For You

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data log

Your data log SHOULD be a lifeline between you and your data, you and your business users, and between your business users and their activity as well. But unfortunately, this probably isn’t what you are getting from your data log. In the blog post “But My System Already Has A Built-In Data Audit Log…” we go over why the built in data logs that come with your software systems are not effective enough to properly track your data fully, but now we are going to go over five things you should expect your data log to do for you.

Let’s start with the basics though.  What is a data log?  A data log can also be referred to by a number of other terms such as transaction log, transaction journal, database log, binary log or audit trail. Whatever it is called though, the definition remains the same; a data log is a history of actions executed by a database management system. It can record any action by the database and store the recording results in a separate file (Definition taken from Sliced Lemon Software).

But your data log solution shouldn’t just start and end with this simple, basic definition.  The point of having a data log solution is to keep data manageable by ensuring it is easy to refer back to in case of an audit or the need for a rollback to correct an error.  It should also help you ensure data quality and oversee user interaction with your data.  If your data log doesn’t do any of this, then you aren’t just missing out, you are suffering. With the rise of big data, a data log should be part of your data strategy, helping you manage and control your data.  So here are those five things your data log should do for you:

Tracks Your Data in Real-Time

According to Webopedia, real-time means occurring immediately.  And a proper data log will track your data immediately.  That means that if you enter data into a field and click save, you can then go into a data log and see that “transaction” right then and there, time stamped and all.  If your data log doesn’t do that, there isn’t much point.  How can you roll back mistakes or spot data errors without a huge amount of time and effort wasted?  A database backup does not track your data in real-time, so that doesn’t count.  It just takes a snapshot of your data once every 24 hours.  So make sure this is on your checklist.

Archives Your Data On A Different Server/In A Different Application

The reason built in data logs are limited is because they take up space.  Saving and archiving your data takes up space, and the more data a company deals with, the more space that data takes up.  In order to have a comprehensive data log that also archives your data for whenever you need it, you need it to be on a different server, and preferably its own application.  This way it doesn’t interfere with or slow down your current systems while still providing you with all the tracking functionality you need to manage your data.

Contains Filter Search Capabilities

Can you search for a data record or “transaction” by schema, user id, system, and more?  Can you then further filter your search criteria to easily guide you to the data record you are looking for?  This feature is an absolute must for your data log.  Having complete search capabilities eliminates the hours wasting searching through an archive/record to find exactly what you are looking for.  Having customizable filters allows you to see as much or as little information as you need, making your data lookup efficient and effective.

Displays Data in Tree Representation

If you want to easily see the aspects of a data record, and break down a specific record into parts in order to find the change, error, or piece of information you are seeking, having a user friendly visual UI is key.  Part of that is a tree representation that can be expanded to give a full representation of your data.  Without it, your data can be hard to differentiate and sort.

Represents Data Visually

One of the best things about a proper data log is that you can show your superiors the state of your data and the user activity associated with a specific system.  Having a data log that automatically converts business insight about your data (changes made, which part of a system is used most, user with largest number of changes, etc.) into charts and graphs gives you an immediate head start on tackling your data and being proactive about data management.  It also helps you stay efficient by targeting problem areas and more.  For more on visibility read our blog “Three Areas Where Better Visibility Can Transform an Organization.”

Expect More From Your Data Log!

If your data log doesn’t have any of the above-mentioned functionality, you need to expect more of your data log.  And in order to do so you need to seek out a data log application that can perform the above duties easily and inexpensively for you.  We can help.  Download our white paper below to find out about OUR data log application, Observato™.

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