Monitoring Cisco NX OS metrics with Grafana

Monitoring Cisco NX OS metrics with Grafana

Table of Contents


In this article, we will explore what Cisco NX OS is and what it is used for. You will find out what metrics are and why it is very important to monitor them. Then, we will look at how to monitor Cisco NX OS metrics with Grafana, a graphical data visualization tool, and how MetricFire can help us with this. 


In order to learn more about MetricFire, book a demo with our technical specialists or sign up for the MetricFire free trial today.


Key Takeaways

  1. Cisco NX OS is a high-performance network operating system for data centers and cloud networks.
  2. It offers benefits such as support for various protocols, modular architecture, real-time traffic monitoring, and strong data encryption.
  3. Metrics are crucial for analyzing system performance, including internal route metrics, wide metrics, and external route metrics.
  4. Monitoring metrics is essential for optimizing performance, identifying bottlenecks, and detecting errors in distributed systems.
  5. Grafana can be integrated with Cisco NX OS to visualize and analyze metrics.


What is Cisco NX OS?

Cisco NX OS is a network operating system for data centers and cloud networks. It is built on Linux-based software architecture and delivers high performance in cloud environments. Cisco NX OS is a self-healing and modular system that helps ensure that your data center is always available. It provides a number of functions for switching and storing data in networks. Today it is one of the most common network operating systems for data centers.


Key benefits of Cisco NX OS

  • Support for v4/v6 protocols, unicast, and multicast routing protocols.
  • The ability to forward packets of multi-protocol communication by labels thanks to segment routing SR-MPLS.
  • Modular and secure application integration architecture.
  • Contains tools for developing software for Cisco NX OS in different programming languages, such as C++, Python, Go.
  • The APIs provide native YANG models and standard OpenConfig models.
  • Displaying the status of the software through a centralized database.
  • Cisco Nexus Data Broker (NDB) allows you to manage and monitor network traffic. It is a simple, scalable, and programmable solution.
  • Cisco NX OS allows you to monitor network traffic in real time.
  • All processes are executed in separate areas of memory and do not depend on each other, therefore failures at the process level do not affect the entire system.
  • Cisco NX OS allows you to manage the load by redirecting work processes to various services.
  • It provides strong data encryption.
  • It allows you to scale data centers with increasing workload and application growth easily.


Cisco NX OS metrics

Metrics are calculated or aggregated numerical data used to analyze different processes and characteristics of the operating system and assess its performance. Cisco NX OS metrics can be divided into internal route metrics, wide metrics, and external route metrics. Let's take a closer look at each type of metric.


Internal route metrics

These are metrics for internal routes, that is, routes between neighbors in the same EIGRP system. Internal route metrics include:


  • Next hop - the IP address of the next hop router.
  • Delay - the sum of the delays configured on the interfaces that make up the route to the destination network.
  • Bandwidth - calculated from the lowest configured bandwidth on the interface that is part of the route to the destination.
  • Hop count - the number of hops or routers the route passes through to its destination.
  • MTU - the lowest maximum value of a transmission unit value along the route.
  • Reliability - an indicator of the reliability of links to a destination.
  • Load - an indication of how much traffic is coming from the links to the destination.


Wide metrics

Wide metrics are used to improve route selection on high-speed or related interfaces. These metrics include Jitter (Measured in microseconds) and Energy (Measured in watts per kilobit). Lower Jitter and Energy metrics are used for route selection.


External route metrics

These metrics are used in external routes between neighbors in different EIGRPs. External route metrics include:

  • Next hop - the IP address of the next-hop router.
  • Router ID - the router ID of the router that redistributes this route into EIGRP.
  • AS number - the autonomous system number of the destination.
  • Protocol ID - a code that represents the routing protocol that learned the destination route.
  • Tag - an arbitrary tag that can be used for route maps.
  • Metric - the route metric for this route from the external routing protocol.



Why is it important to monitor metrics?

Monitoring metrics allow you to see the dynamics of changes in the operation of the system and predict the behavior of the system in the future. Using metrics, you can evaluate the performance of the system, find its bottlenecks, determine which parts of the system are most loaded, work slower than others, and optimize their work. 


Monitoring metrics also allows you to track the number of errors that occur in the system and determine where they occur. For large distributed high-load systems, it is imperative to determine important metrics and constantly monitor them.


Integration Cisco NX OS with Grafana

Grafana is a visualization tool that allows you to store and display data graphically. Cisco NX OS has tools that store various metric data and allow it to be imported into the Grafana database. Then you can use this database as the data source in Grafana dashboards and load stored data from the database for displaying it in a graphical interface.


To learn more about the integration of Cisco NX OS with Grafana, book a demo with our team, or sign up for the free trial today.


Using Grafana dashboards for monitoring Cisco NX OS metrics

To start working with Grafana, you need to create a user with administrator rights. After that, log in as this user and create a new Grafana dashboard. A dashboard consists of a set of widgets, but it can also contain variables, folders, and other features. After creating the dashboard, you can go to settings and add metadata, rows, links, time settings, etc.


There are a lot of different graphical tools for displaying metrics in Grafana. The basic block for data visualization in Grafana is the panel. Each panel has its own data source and corresponding query editor. You can choose different styles and formats for the panels, as well as move and resize them. Let's list the main Grafana panels.


  • A graph panel is a universal graph that can display any data from a time series. The graph panel can be displayed as a line, a path of points, or a series of bars.
  • The dashboard list panel displays dynamic links to other dashboards.
  • Stat panel displays one large statistic value with an additional sparkline on the graph.


In order to display metrics in the graphic format, first, you need to create a panel in the Grafana dashboard. Then select the data source. Grafana supports different ways of storing data, creating queries, and displaying results. Different query languages ​​are used for different data sources. In this case, the data source will be the database in which the Cisco NX OS metrics are entered. Next, you need to write a database query and you will receive a metrics graph.


All dashboards in Grafana are JSON-based. After finishing the dashboard setup, you can export the dashboard to a JSON file. This file will contain a list of all used charts and their settings. You can also generate an external link to the dashboard or create a screenshot of it.


So, with just a few simple steps, you can monitor Cisco NX OS metrics using Grafana. But to do this you also need to run and maintain Grafana. If you don't want to do it yourself or spend time and resources on it, then you can use MetricFire. Below we will study in detail what MetricFire is and what are the advantages of using it.


Hosted Grafana by MetricFire

MetricFire is an open-source platform for monitoring infrastructure, systems, and applications. MetricFire allows you to use Grafana as a web application without having to install and configure it locally. Using MetricFire you can monitor your system's metrics in real-time without worrying about Grafana support. Grafana is maintained, updated, and serviced by MetricFire.


Benefits of using MetricFire

  • You always have access to the data you entered, you can export it at any time.
  • You save time and resources and can only monitor your system metrics without the need to deploy monitoring tools.
  • Reliable technical support. If you have any difficulties or questions, then you can always ask the MetricFire technical specialists who will certainly help you solve your problem.


If you don’t want to maintain and run your monitoring system and visualization tool on your own, use MetricFire to set up and run Hosted Grafana monitoring.



In this article, we examined how to monitor Cisco NX OS metrics using Grafana very easily and conveniently. Use MetricFire to host Grafana with a minimal configuration and do not run and maintain it yourself.


If you want to know more about how to use MetricFire, book a demo with us, or sign up for the MetricFire free trial today.

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