Monitoring Junos OS with Prometheus vs. Graphite

Monitoring Junos OS with Prometheus vs. Graphite

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. What is Junos OS?
  3. Major Monitoring Features of Prometheus and Graphite
    1. Prometheus
    2. Graphite
    3. Prometheus and Graphite as a Service
    4. Monitoring Junos OS with Prometheus or Graphite?
  4. Junos OS Metrics - what do people need to monitor?
  5. Comparison between Prometheus and Graphite
    1. Similarities
    2. Differences
  6. Wrapping up

Introduction

When you plan monitoring strategies, the first thing you need to consider is the characteristics of the target systems. Depending on the resources you want to monitor, you will have to apply different architectural designs such as data collection, metrics generation, visualization, refresh schedule, and more. 

               

When you want to monitor network systems, making these considerations will allow you to achieve the right monitoring solutions. This will contribute to the success of your on-going infrastructure management efforts.

            

Regardless of your target systems, however, one common aspect is the necessity of a powerful monitoring tool. Prometheus and Graphite are considered the most popular open source monitoring solutions. 

               

In this article, we will learn how these tools can help you to monitor Junos OS - a network operating system. Before that, check out MetricFire. MetricFire Hosts Prometheus and Graphite so you can get all of the benefits with none of the heavy lifting. 

             

You can gain in-depth insight about your network resources with minimal configuration. If you would like to learn more, please book a demo with us, or sign on to the MetricFire free trial today.

                           

What is Junos OS?

Juniper Networks is a U.S.-based multinational company that provides high-performance network devices. With their products, users can enjoy a responsive and trusted environment and can streamline the deployment process for services and applications over a single network. 

               

The Junos Operating system (or Junos OS) is the underpinning software that enables that. Junos OS differentiates itself from other complicated and monolithic software architecture by adopting key designs and developmental differences to allow increased network availability, operational efficiency, and flexibility.

             

To monitor Junos OS, Juniper suggests using its CLI tool. Using the command line tool, you can monitor Junos OS, routing protocols, network connectivity, and hardware. Junos OS supports tracing and logging tasks so that users can track events such as normal operations and error incidents. However, the CLI alone may not be enough to monitor all the metrics quickly on a single page. Let’s learn how Prometheus and Graphite can help you in this regard.

              

Major Monitoring Features of Prometheus and Graphite

Prometheus and Graphite are open-source monitoring software where you can monitor various metrics on intuitive dashboards. Although they both share common features, you may want to choose one over the other depending on your use cases.

                 

Prometheus

This open-source monitoring tool was born in 2012. Since then, many organizations have chosen it for monitoring their infrastructure. Prometheus has an active developer and user community continuously providing improvements. Prometheus is able to collect and store metrics as time series data. This means it can store data in key-value pairs with the timestamp when the pairs were captured. Among many features, Prometheus provides the following.

                    

  • You can incorporate a multi-dimensional data model with time series data that can be identified by metric name and key-value pairs.
  • Prometheus has PromQL, which is a flexible query language to utilize the multi-dimensionality.
  • It does not have to rely on distributed storage. Prometheus can have autonomous single server nodes.
  • Prometheus collects time-series data by pulling over HTTP.
  • You can also push time series data through an intermediary gateway.
  • Targets can be discovered by service discovery or static configuration.
  • Various graphs and dashboards are supported.

                

Graphite

Graphite is also an open-source monitoring software that is designed to perform reliably on affordable hardware or Cloud infrastructure. People use Graphite to track the performance of their resources such as websites, applications, network servers, and more. This tool was developed by Chris Davis in 2006 and was released under Apache 2.0 license in 2008. 

                     

Among many strengths, Graphite is known to provide a scalable solution for real-time graphing. You can write an application that digests numeric time-series data and sends it to Graphite’s processing backend - carbon that stores the data in its database. Then, the data can be visualized through Graphite’s web interfaces.

              

Prometheus and Graphite as a Service

Prometheus and Graphite both offer a good range of monitoring features. They are capable of processing time-series data, which is a big advantage to monitor network data in real-time. In spite of the benefits, they inherently share some difficulties to manage due to the nature of open-source projects. When you use an open-source software, starting from installation to implementation, all become your tasks. It will become an ongoing cost and require continuous efforts to keep them running smoothly.

                  

When your main objective is to monitor your network resources such as Junos OS, using Prometheus-as-a-Service or Graphite-as-a-Service can significantly reduce maintaining efforts and enable your team to focus on what matters more. MetricFire provides hosting services for both monitoring software so that users can forget about logistical burden and pay more attention to monitoring job itself and other important tasks.

                   

Monitoring Junos OS with Prometheus or Graphite?

Junos OS is a network operating system thus it generates network-specific data such as those from routing devices, network gateways, packet protocols, and more. Because of the characteristics of the data types, monitoring them in real-time is important. In that regard, both tools allow users to monitor time-series data in real-time and provide dashboards. But, one of the main differences is how they can collect data. 

               

If you want a more active solution that lets you collect data from Junos OS, Prometheus can be more suitable since it can pull data from different sources. Graphite is passive in this domain since it only listens to data using what’s called Carbon. You will need extra packages to enable active pulling for Graphite. Also, Graphite, by default, does not support alerting, while Prometheus does.

               

These points tell us that if you want an extensive monitoring solution for Junos OS, then, Prometheus can be suitable for your use case. If you want a light-weight monitoring tool, Graphite can serve you better.

                       

                                          

Junos OS Metrics - what do people need to monitor?

Junos OS churns out various metrics for users to track the performance of their network infrastructures. The following are the metrics that you may want to consider to monitor the performance.

              

  • Average delay
  • Interface utilization
  • Disk utilization
  • Memory utilization
  • CPU load
  • Output queue size
  • Errors in and out
  • Unknown protocols
  • Interface operating status
  • Component operating temperature
  • Component operating status
  • System uptime
  • No IP route errors
  • Wrong SNMP name errors
  • SNMP community violations
  • Redundancy switch over
  • FRU rate
  • Rail of tail-dropped packets

             

These are some of the many metrics you can track by collecting data from Junos OS and surface them in either Prometheus or Graphite.

                 

Comparison between Prometheus and Graphite

We have learned the major features of Prometheus and Graphite and which tool can be a suitable choice for your use cases. In this section, we will discuss several similarities and differences.

                

Similarities

Prometheus and Graphite offer visualization through dashboards and they both are suitable for time-series data. When you cannot find functionalities, you can add the features you need by installing plugins and tools. One common visualization tool they can utilize is Grafana. Also, they were designed by considering high reliability. For the data they display through web UI, they can store them inside their database.

                

Differences

Prometheus is more active in terms of data collection while Graphite listens to data sources passively. Prometheus has an internal dynamic SQL language called PromQL that allows you to query data, but Graphite relies on functions to search data. Prometheus has a comprehensive system that contains data handling capabilities such as collecting, storing, querying, graphing, and alerting. 

                 

Graphite is a lighter tool in this regard, but when necessary, you can add plugins to compensate. Because of the design of embracing wider features, Prometheus tends to have a broader library support. Both software support JavaScript and Python and Junos OS is also Python-friendly.

              

Listing these similarities and differences can help us to have an idea on which tool can be more suitable for network monitoring. Since Junos OS produces many metrics and you can retrieve the data via CLI, Prometheus can be a good candidate since it provides more detailed metrics visualization and active data pulling. Still, if you want to adopt a lighter solution, Graphite can be a better fit.

                

Wrapping up

In this article, we’ve learned about Junos OS and Prometheus and Graphite. As we discussed major features of the monitoring tools, we found that there are several major differences between them, which can be deciding factors for Junos OS monitoring.

                 

Although they both have powerful monitoring and metrics features, when you want to use an open-source software, it can be demanding to start using it and maintain it by yourself. To reduce your maintenance overhead, try our hosted Prometheus and hosted Graphite.

                           

Visit MetricFire today and check our Graphite as a Service.

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