Analyzing Wowza Streaming Engine Logs Using Sawmill PROFESSIONAL

October 11, 2017 by Derrick Freeman

In the modern IT environment, everyone is under pressure to boost productivity and do more with less. To help you maximize efficiency and oversee many different aspects of your streaming delivery at once, a large suite of monitoring apps are now available.

Sawmill PROFESSIONAL is one of the most commonly used solutions in the streaming-media space. It helps users monitor and manage large numbers of cloud-deployed, virtualized or distributed assets, from one centralized location. As a Works With Wowza partner, Sawmill integrates seamlessly with Wowza Streaming Engine™ software.

Sawmill can be used to manage, monitor and inventory your Wowza Streaming Engine instances, as well as to create reports on streaming-media delivery. If your organization adopts the best practice of logging every new Wowza Streaming Engine instance in the Sawmill system, you can track all your active instances, as well as their names and locations, within a single management console.

In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to integrate Wowza Streaming Engine with a new or an existing deployment of Sawmill PROFESSIONAL 8.7.9, so you can more easily manage and monitor multiple instances of Wowza Streaming Engine.

Getting Started With Sawmill PROFESSIONAL and Wowza Streaming Engine

In this tutorial, we’ll be analyzing your Wowza server logs. These are located within the the “logs” folder of your Wowza install directory. Analyzing your server logs is a great way to gauge the success of your streaming delivery, or to troubleshoot any technical issues that arise.

The benefit of using Sawmill PROFESSIONAL is that, rather than looking at logs from within Wowza Streaming Engine Manager, NotePad or NotePad++, you can view your report details in nicely formatted, web-based tables. However, it’s important to remember that Sawmill PROFESSIONAL only provides information collected from the log files on your server. If you want to understand the various items included in your Sawmill log report, you’ll need to read through the “Logging” section of the “Server Administration” chapter in the Wowza Streaming Engine User’s Guide.

To follow the steps in this tutorial, you’ll need your log files from Wowza Streaming Engine.  You’ll also need a license of Sawmill PROFESSIONAL (you can request a free, 30-day trial license from their website).

Once you have those things, let’s get started!

 

Step 1: Organizing Your Log Files

When working with Sawmill, the first task you need to perform is to download your Wowza logs and organize them within the same folder on your computer. In the image above, you can see that all log files are located in the “logs” folder.

Step 2: Starting and Logging Into Sawmill PROFESSIONAL

Now, start Sawmill PROFESSIONAL by double-clicking on the Sawmill application and clicking the “Use Sawmill” button on the web browser that appears. The first time you start Sawmill, you’ll need to create a username and password to log in. You’ll also need to specify an e-mail address to use with the application. If you’re using a trial license, make sure you choose to run the application as “Sawmill PROFESSIONAL” and not any of the other versions.

Once you finish all of the prompts, you should see a dialog window appear. Log into your Sawmill account with your account credentials.  

 

Step 3: Creating a Profile

Once you log in, you’ll have the option to create a profile. Think of a profile as a type of log file or a set of logs that you would like to process. In your case, you’ll want to process Wowza Streaming Engine logs. You can give you profile a similar name.

Click on the “Create New Profile” button, or click the orange button that says “Start Here.”

Next, let’s navigate to the folder that contains all of your log files. Under “Log source,” make sure “Local disk or mapped/mounted disk” is selected, and click on the “Browse” button.

After clicking “Browse,” navigate through until you find your folder, then click on it. (In this example, the folder is called “logs.”)

You should now see your path name in the “Pathname” text box. Click the “Next” button to continue.

You’ll notice that your log format is being detected now.

Once the processing is finished, you’ll have several options of log formats to choose from. In this case, you’re telling Sawmill which log type you’d like to process. Select the “Wowza Media Server/Wowza Streaming Engine” option and click the “Next” button.

On the “Numerical field options” dialog window, “Select All” for the numerical fields for your report. Click “Next,” then advance through the other dialogs by continuing to click the “Next” button.

Now, let’s give your profile a name by typing in “Wowza Streaming Engine logs” and clicking the “Finish” button.

 

Step 4: Processing Your First Report

A dialog window should appear, letting your know your profile has been created. Click “Process Data & View Reports.

Now you’ll see the Dashboard, which provides information about your streaming usage with Wowza Streaming Engine.

Step 5: Creating a Single-Page Summary

A good way to get more details on your Wowza logs is to create a Single-Page Summary Report, which gives you a quick glimpse of most of the available options within your report. To do this, click “Single-Page Summary” on the navigation to your left.

It’ll take a moment to process, but then your report should appear. Scroll through your report to see what information is available.

Step 6: Reviewing the Most-Viewed Streams

Now that you can see all the options in your report, navigate to the “Stream name” section to see your most popular streams. Notice that you can see which stream has the most usage.

In this way, you can see if the live streams you expected to be most popular are performing accordingly. If your report reflects lower usage than you expected, you can do some more investigating within your report options.

Step 7: Reviewing the Most Popular File Types

Details on your most popular file type can also be reviewed through your report. In this example, MP4 is the most popular file type.

Step 8: Reviewing Report for Errors

The most important area, outside of viewing your most popular streams, is the error section of your report. In the Wowza logging report, this is listed as “Severities.” If you happen to see any information show up within the “WARN” row, you should do some investigating—which we’ll discuss in the next section.

Step 9: Using Zoom Filters for Analyzing Stream Viewing by City

When using a log analysis tool such as Sawmill PROFESSIONAL, you have to think carefully about what you’d like to learn about your Wowza Streaming Engine usage.

Here’s a scenario. Let’s say you’d like to find out which cities are watching your most popular content. Using a “Zoom filter” will provide the details you need.

First, go to “Stream names” and select the magnifying class to access the Zoom filter. This selects the first item.

Then, on the left-hand navigation, click on “Visitor demographics” and select “Cities.” The display now shows which cities watched your top stream the most.

Now that you know how to use Zoom filters, you can find many more details about the usage for your Wowza Streaming Engine instance. Keep in mind, you can use the Zoom filter on any item listed in your Single-Page Summary.

Step 10: Resolve Domain Names

Finally, I’d like to share my favorite feature in Sawmill PROFESSIONAL with you: resolving domain names. Instead of just seeing IP addresses, this allows you to actually see which organizations are viewing your Wowza Streaming Engine content.

Here’s how to set it up.  At the top-right corner of the Sawmill interface, click on the “Config Options” drop-down menu.

Select “DNS Lookup” from the drop-down menu.

Now, select “Look up IP numbers using domain name server (DNS),” and input your DNS server and secondary server information into the form fields. Also, make sure the box next to “Use TCP to communicate with DNS servers” is checked. Finally, click the “Save Changes” button. Now, when you run your reports, you’ll see actual names and organizations, instead of just seeing numbers for client IP addresses.

Step 11: Printing Your Report

Lastly, printing your report is very simple. Just click the “Printer Friendly” button at the top of the Sawmill interface.

And you’re done! I hope this tutorial has been helpful. I’d also like to point out that this tutorial only covers a small amount about of what Sawmill can do. It’s a very powerful program for streaming server analytics, as well as for other log types. I encourage you to review the documentation to see what else is possible.

Wowza Media Server is available and integrated with Cloud Server Wowza

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