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Stream management

This is a high-level view of how logs are routed through logplex. A general production set up might look as follows:

general architecture

All production applications can log to any of the logplex nodes, although it might be preferable to use proxies in between to handle things more efficiently.

Logplex relies on a group of redis database: A Master database for configuration; How many shards there are, what drains exist (to be explained further in the text) and so on. Then redis shards are multiple redis instances holding references to latest log messages received, in order to build a short backlog when necessary.

Where requests come from

The typical application using logplex will pipe syslog messages from a local syslog over TCP, or from an application such as log shuttle, which will send them over HTTP. It is recommended to go with HTTP if possible, as it allows better control of streams: authentication (over HTTP), SSL, and so on. TCP syslog messages, on the other hand, will have to be seen as any other raw TCP stream.

The request will then be routed to a logplex endpoint which, like all other endpoints, can listen to either kind of streams:

logplex message

Based on an application token, the logplex router is able to figure out which request belongs to what application, and regroup them accordingly.

In the image above, the message is a local syslog one sent over TCP. It's routed through the TCP API, which redistributes it to a drain and/or a tail, on top of sending it to a given shard, which depends on the application (and token) it contains.

The drains and tails will then forward the logs to clients.

Where requests go

There are two ways to consume requests: drains and tails.

Tails

Tails are analogous to running tail -f on a log on a local machine, except they're able to fetch logs globally all at once.

A user can start a drain by contacting the logplex HTTP API with the correct credentials. It doesn't matter which instance is used. The logplex router will automatically spawn a tail process, to be registered as an endpoint over all nodes.

As soon as the registration takes place, every message that is received by any of the logplex instances will be forwarded to the tail process. That tail process uses the backlog accumulated in redis, and the data forwarded by all collectors, and sends it back to the client:

logplex tail

When the tail gets closed, the syslog logs stop being streamed.

More details on the drains can be found in the logplex API

Drains

A drain works differently from a tail. While a tail is dynamic and only lasts as long as its connection lasts, a drain is a more permanent thing.

The user can register a drain as an endpoint where they want logplex to forward logs to. This can be a web server that stores accumulated logs inside a given database, on disk files, or does anything with it, really.

Once the drain is registered through the HTTP API, the configuration is stored in the redis configuration database and drain processes are created on all nodes.

The main difference with a tail is then that instead of being merged in a single stream to be sent over a connection, drains will call the endpoint registered and push data there directly:

logplex drain

There is also no backlog required to be read from redis for the logplex drain to work.

More details on the drains can be found in the logplex API and the http drains doc