If you thought ‘Vagrant’ refers to a homeless person and ‘Logstash’ is some culinary cousin of goulash stew, think again. In the tech world, Vagrant and Logstash are popular tools for creating virtual development environments, and managing events and logs, respectively. Both tools are easy to use, and reduce the time spent doing basic configuration and data processing tasks. That means more time to focus on development and extracting strategic business insights from your data. I presented an overview of both at a recent ClearPoint TechDrop session, a forum for sharing knowledge and ideas with peers and clients in the technology industry.

True to its nomadic definition, Vagrant is a tool to create and configure lightweight, reproducible and portable development environments. The real beauty of it lies in how can quickly and easily you can set-up an environment, do work and then tear down the environment when finished. For more complex environments, it also allows for scripted build and configuration of virtual machines, as well as a sharing capability. In short, you can wrap your development in a virtual box, build it, test it, share it, and then destroy it when no longer needed, all within minutes.

We are producing vast amounts data and the challenge is to make sense of it. Data’s real value lies in the ability to analyse and extract information that can be used to improve decision-making, identify new opportunities or solve business problems. Logstash is a data processing tool that can help. Part of the Elasticsearch family, Logstash allows you to “Scrub, Parse, and Enrich. Like soap for data.”

With Logstash, you can ship logs and other time-based event data from any source, parse it, index it, and then search it. Logstash helps get all your data sorted, but it’s what you do with it next that matters most. With Elasticsearch’s data visualization engine Kibana, you have an online dashboard where you can perform data analysis and produce graphs and reports to provide valuable insight into your business, all in real-time

The applications for these tools are endless, from product development and DevOps, to monitoring social media trends based on the Twitter activity of teen pop stars Justin Bieber and One Direction. At ClearPoint we’ve been using these tools to build and support software for our clients, as well as to create product prototypes and provide marketing campaign insights. Give us a call if you’d like to talk about how we can help you drive business outcomes from these open source tools.

Solutions Architect and in-house technology guru Jonathan Ackerman presented at ClearPoint’s latest TechDrop session, 14 August 2014. At ClearPoint we believe that innovation can occur anywhere and anytime. Discussion and debate between peers from different industries is a good stimulus for creativity and innovation. That’s why we initiate the TechDrop series. Get in touch for more details or stay tuned to our blog for more fresh thinking.