Tesla, the New York Times, and Log Data

Have you been following the Tesla/New York Times story? The argument between a Times writer and Tesla’s CEO over the validity of a test drive report has made for some dramatic reading and discussion via social media. There’s another interesting aspect to the story, as TIBCO CTO Mark Quinn notes in a guest post on VentureBeat – the role of log data in this story. Tesla has released detailed logs of the car in the test drive, showing everything from speed and battery charge to the setting of the cabin climate control. While most cars don’t record that much data, what Tesla is doing is going to become common – because collecting data is easier than ever. As Quinn points out, this is a great example of using log data to find the truth – much as our customers do when they use log data to investigate a security incident. But there’s another aspect to the story that illuminates an important point about log data – getting from data to truth isn’t always that easy. Tesla’s release of the car’s log data didn’t end the discussion; in fact, discussion of where the log data might not contradict the test drive review and where its meaning isn’t clear has become a popular and heated online discussion topic. Log data from a car is pretty simple compared to log data from enterprise IT infrastructure or cloud instances… and it’s still not straightforward. One of the key requirements of using log data is expert analysis, where knowledge of the context of the data collection and the underlying systems can be brought to bear to tease out insights behind the data. One thing is certain – log management tools, and log analysis expertise are going to be important in more and more of the systems and technologies that surround us.