N.B. This post is from 2011 – the landscape has changed since then…
Centralised cloud-based logging. It sounds tasty – and it is – but who should you go with? Well, Loggly and Papertrail are the only games in town when it comes to the aforementioned service; the only other competitor in this space is Splunk Storm, but their offering – well-pedigreed though it may be – is strictly in private beta at this time, and therefore cannot really be considered a valid option.
The fact of the matter is that Loggly and Papertrail are, at a high level, functionally identical. They offer more or less the same bouquet of functionality, including alert triggers, aggregate visualisation, and even map reduce tools for data mining and reporting. Loggly has been around longer, and has a better track record for open-source involvement, meaning that the eco-system around their service is more mature; however, that doesn’t mean that they are necessarily superior to Papertrail in terms of the actual service.
My suggestion: If you’re in a hurry, flip a coin and go with one or the other. If you have the time, you should go ahead and try both out for a bit; Papertrail has a 7-day free trial programme, and Loggly is free (in perpetuity) for sufficiently small amounts of data and retention (which is no problem if you’re just poking around).
I’m very interested in hearing about actual user experiences with either or both, so please don’t hesitate to add a comment or drop me a line directly via the contact form.
Edit 2: From the comments, there’s also Logentries, which I don’t personally have any experience with, but which appears to offer a reasonably comprehensive offering as well.