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In this article, we will talk about Graphite and Grafana monitoring systems, and their similarities and differences. Also, we will explain why it is an effective solution to use Graphite and Grafana together to monitor your system metrics. We will also learn about the benefits of using MetricFire.
Sign up for MetricFire for free and store and process your system metrics with our hosted Graphite solution. Book a call with our team if you have any questions about integrating MetricFire with your system.
Similarities in Graphite and Grafana
Graphite is a monitoring system that allows you to collect and store metrics in a time-series format. It also has tools for visualizing metrics. Grafana is a powerful metrics monitoring and analysis tool that provides a lot of different beautiful and customizable dashboards for graphically displaying metrics.
Both Graphite and Grafana are open-source systems that are used for monitoring metrics. They provide tools for creating queries and building different types of charts. Graphite and Grafana can be integrated with a wide range of additional tools that provide a list of options for storing, processing, and visualizing data.
Grafana can use different data sources for its dashboards including Graphite, InfluxDB, Elasticsearch, PostgreSQL, MySQL, MS SQL, Google Cloud Monitoring, Azure Monitor, and others. Graphite provides a simple and user-friendly Graphite API that allows you to use a lot of different dashboards to visualize metrics.
Differences in Graphite and Grafana
Although Graphite and Grafana are two powerful monitoring systems that can be successfully used independently for storing and displaying metrics, there are a lot of differences between them.
Data storage and processing
Graphite allows you to store time-series data and also provides a list of functions for transforming, calculating, combining and filtering data on a graph. It also provides a convenient and powerful query API that can be used by other systems to get data. Grafana uses external data sources and does not have the tools to process and transform them as Graphite does.
Graphite allows you to create advanced queries that are easy to execute. Unlike it, the standard Grafana queries are greatly simplified. To build more advanced queries with Grafana, you will need to install additional plugins.
Graphite provides the basic tools for graphical displaying time-series data. If you have a value that changes over time, you can use Graphite to plot that change. However, Graphite’s data visualization features are heavily deprecated. It allows you to build only basic graphs, which usually consist of two types: points or line graphs.
Grafana allows you to create different types of graphs, charts, tables, and indicators. It comes with a lot of preconfigured dashboards. Grafana allows you to create beautiful and highly customizable modern dashboards.
Grafana has a built-in alert module that allows you to send notifications about important events through a communication channel convenient for you (for example, via email, Slack, etc.). It also supports an optional notification method that allows each system to register with its alerts and receive push notifications when a predefined event occurs. Grafana’s alerting has more features, however, it is much slower than Graphite and much less reliable.
Graphite does not have a built-in alert system, however, it allows you to integrate with additional tools like Graphite-beacon and Graphite-alerts that allow you to create and send alerts about Graphite events. At MetricFire, we offer a hosted Graphite alerting system that alerts as soon as we start receiving metrics. This is much faster and more reliable than Grafana’s alerting system which alerts based on render.
Installing and configuring
The process of installing and configuring Graphite and Grafana is different. Grafana offers several easy installation and hosting solutions. It can be easily deployed in a Docker container or run as a process on Windows, Linux, and Mac OS. You can also easily add plugins in a Docker build or inside a Grafana container.
Installing and deploying Graphite can be a little tricky because it depends on several other components that must be installed and configured correctly. Graphite consists of three main components:
- Carbon is a daemon that listens for time-series data and collects it over a common set of protocols.
- Whisper is a database that provides fast access to data.
- Graphite-web is a user interface with which metrics are visualized.
There may also be problems with scaling Graphite.
What is Hosted Graphite?
MetricFire offers a product called Hosted Graphite. It is a system that contains all the necessary installed and configured tools to monitor your system metrics. MetricFire is an already deployed and configured ready-made solution. It consists of a set of services that allow you to collect, store and visualize metrics.
You do not need to worry about installing, configuring, and maintaining Graphite. You can use hosted Graphite as a web application, and MetricFire performs all the necessary maintenance for it.
The main advantages of using MetricFire:
- Saving time and money. Your technicians do not need to spend time deploying, configuring, and maintaining a monitoring system. Instead, they can use a ready-made solution and directly analyze your system metrics.
- Data reliability. Our system is running smoothly. You can access your data at any time.
- Price availability. MetricFire provides several pricing plans, among which you will find one that fits your budget and has all the features you need.
- Reliable technical support. If you have any questions about how MetricFire works, our technical specialists will be happy to help you.
Using MetricFire with Grafana dashboards
Since Graphite allows you to store time-series data and provides advanced data processing and querying tools, while Grafana has more advanced and flexible data visualization and analysis capabilities, these tools are often used together.
To start using MetricFire with Grafana dashboards, you need to connect Graphite to Grafana. To do this, in the Grafana web interface, select Configuration -> Data Source. In the proposed list, select Graphite. Then configure advanced data source settings.
Once you have added the Graphite data source, you can create a dashboard. Grafana dashboard consists of a set of panels. To create a new panel, create a request. To do this, select the data source and metrics you want to visualize. After that, you can use different functions to transform and filter the data. You can add other panels and customize charts.
To visualize metrics in Grafana dashboards, you can choose different types of charts: graph, gauge, table, dashboard list, polystat, diagram, pie chart, heatmap, and others. Each chart can be customized separately. You can set minimum and maximum values, colors for value ranges, thresholds for these ranges, labels, markers, etc. Sharing the results of your work in Grafana is very easy. You can generate a link to a ready-made dashboard, embed an iframe with a dashboard on your site, or take a snapshot of it.
In this article, we talked about the difference between Graphite and Grafana and examined their advantages and disadvantages. We concluded that to effectively monitor your system metrics, it is advisable to use Graphite and Grafana together. In addition, we have explained what are the benefits of using MetricFire’s hosted solution.