Understanding Kubernetes Logs and Using Them to Improve Cluster Resilience

kubernetes logs

Kubernetes Logs: Introduction

In the complex world of Kubernetes, logs serve as the backbone of effective monitoring, debugging, and issue diagnosis. They provide indispensable insights into the behavior and performance of individual components within a Kubernetes cluster, such as containers, nodes, and services. Furthermore, by implementing a robust log monitoring solution and integrating alerting mechanisms, organizations can scale up their Kubernetes effectively, proactively identifying potential issues, minimizing downtime, and maintaining a stable environment. 

This blog explores the anatomy of Kubernetes logs and highlights the distinction between application logs and system logs. We also uncover the importance of monitoring and alerting logs for maintaining the overall system’s health. 

What Are Kubernetes Logs? 

Kubernetes logs are records of events and data generated by individual components running within a Kubernetes cluster. These logs are crucial for monitoring, debugging, and diagnosing issues within a distributed system like Kubernetes. They provide valuable insights into the behavior and performance of the system and its constituent parts, such as containers, nodes, and services.

The anatomy of Kubernetes logs

Kubernetes logs are typically divided into two categories: 

  • Application logs are generated by the applications running within containers and may contain information about the application’s runtime, user interactions, and errors. 
  • System logs, on the other hand, are generated by the Kubernetes components themselves. These logs provide insights into the functioning of the Kubernetes infrastructure, such as the status of nodes, the scheduling of pods, and the management of resources.

The role of logging agents

To collect and aggregate Kubernetes logs, you’ll need a logging agent. Logging agents are responsible for gathering log data from various sources, processing it, and forwarding it to a central logging backend for storage, analysis, and visualization. Some popular logging agents used with Kubernetes include Fluentd, Logstash, and Filebeat. These agents can be deployed as DaemonSets, ensuring that they run on every node in the cluster and collect logs from all containers and system components.

Try OnPage for FREE! Request an enterprise free trial.

Why Are Kubernetes Logs Important? 

Kubernetes logs play a vital role in maintaining the health and performance of a Kubernetes deployment. They serve as an important source of information for IT professionals seeking to understand how their system is functioning, diagnose and troubleshoot Kubernetes issues, and optimize performance. Here’s why Kubernetes logs are so important:

Monitoring System Health

Kubernetes logs enable you to keep an eye on the overall health of your system. By analyzing log data, you can identify potential issues before they escalate into critical problems. For instance, you might notice a spike in error messages or a pattern of failed API calls that could indicate an issue with a specific service or component. By proactively monitoring your logs, you can take corrective action early and maintain a stable, healthy system.

Debugging and Troubleshooting

When something goes wrong in a Kubernetes deployment, logs are often the first place you’ll turn to for clues about the root cause. Kubernetes logs provide detailed information about the inner workings of your system, allowing you to identify errors, track down problematic components, and understand the sequence of events leading up to an issue. By analyzing logs, you can quickly diagnose problems and implement fixes, minimizing downtime and ensuring your system remains operational.

Performance Optimization

Kubernetes logs can also help you optimize Kubernetes performance. By analyzing log data, you can gain insights into resource usage, identify bottlenecks, and understand how your applications are interacting with the Kubernetes infrastructure. Armed with this information, you can make data-driven decisions about resource allocation, application scaling, and infrastructure adjustments to ensure optimal performance.

What Should You Log in Kubernetes? 

When it comes to Kubernetes logging, it’s essential to strike a balance between capturing sufficient information for analysis and troubleshooting, and avoiding excessive log volume, which can overwhelm your logging infrastructure and make it difficult to identify relevant data. Here are some key pieces of information you should consider logging in Kubernetes:

Application Logs

Application logs are generated by the applications running within your Kubernetes containers. These logs can provide valuable insights into application behavior, performance, and issues. Some examples of data to capture in application logs include:

  • Errors and exceptions: Log any errors or exceptions that occur within your application, along with relevant context information, such as timestamps, stack traces, and user identifiers.
  • User interactions: Capture logs related to user interactions with your application, such as login attempts, form submissions, and API calls. This information can help you understand how users are engaging with your application and identify potential issues.
  • Performance metrics: Log performance-related data, such as response times, resource usage, and throughput. This information can help you identify bottlenecks and optimize your application for better performance.

System Logs

System logs provide information about the functioning of the Kubernetes architecture. Examples of data to capture in system logs include:

  • Node status: Log information about the health and status of each node in your Kubernetes cluster, such as CPU usage, memory usage, and disk space.
  • Pod events: Capture logs related to the lifecycle of Kubernetes pods, such as pod creation, deletion, and updates.
  • API server logs: Log information about API calls made to the Kubernetes API server, including the requestor’s identity, the requested resource, and the outcome of the request.

Try OnPage for FREE! Request an enterprise free trial.

Best Practices for Kubernetes Logging 

To make the most of Kubernetes logs, it’s essential to follow best practices for logging in a Kubernetes environment. Here are some key best practices to consider:

Centralize Your Logs

To effectively analyze and manage Kubernetes logs, it’s crucial to centralize your log data in a single location. This can be achieved by using a log aggregation tool, which can help collect logs from all sources and forward them to a central logging backend. Centralizing your logs makes it easier to search, analyze, and visualize your log data, enabling you to quickly identify patterns, trends, and anomalies.

Implement Log Rotation

Log rotation is the process of automatically archiving or deleting old log files to free up disk space and prevent log files from growing too large. Implementing log rotation in your Kubernetes environment is essential to prevent your logging infrastructure from becoming overwhelmed by excessive log volume. Most logging agents support log rotation out of the box, making it easy to implement this best practice.

Use Structured Logging

Structured logging involves organizing log data into structured, machine-readable formats, such as JSON or XML. Using structured logging in your Kubernetes environment offers several benefits, including:

  • Easier log analysis: Structured logs are more easily parsed and analyzed by log management tools, enabling you to quickly search, filter, and aggregate your log data.
  • Improved data consistency: Structured logging enforces a consistent log format across your applications and system components, making it easier to correlate log data and identify patterns.
  • Better context: Structured logs allow you to include rich context information in your log entries, such as metadata, tags, and key-value pairs, providing more information for troubleshooting and analysis.

Monitor and Alert on Log Data

Monitoring your Kubernetes logs is essential for identifying issues and maintaining system health. Implement a log monitoring solution that regularly scans your log data for patterns, trends, and anomalies, and set up alerts to notify you when potential issues are detected. It is important to integrate with alerting tools that can help escalate important alerts to key members of your staff. This proactive approach enables you to respond quickly to problems and minimize downtime.

Secure Your Logs

Logs can contain sensitive information, such as user credentials, IP addresses, and other identifying data. It’s essential to secure your log data to prevent unauthorized access or exposure. Some best practices for securing Kubernetes logs include:

  • Encrypting log data in transit and at rest
  • Restricting access to log data based on user roles and permissions
  • Implementing audit logging to track access to log data
  • Regularly reviewing and updating log access policies


Kubernetes logs are a critical component of maintaining and optimizing a Kubernetes deployment. By capturing and analyzing log data, IT professionals can gain valuable insights into system behavior, diagnose and troubleshoot issues, and optimize performance. Following best practices for Kubernetes logging, such as centralizing logs, implementing log rotation, using structured logging, monitoring and alerting on log data, and securing logs, can help IT professionals make the most of their Kubernetes logs and maintain a stable, healthy system.

testimonial band for blogs