step-by-step-guide-to-monitoring-your-apache-http-servers

Step By Step Guide to Monitoring Your Apache HTTP Servers

Table of Contents

Introduction 

Monitoring Apache HTTP servers is crucial for ensuring they are always available and perform optimally. It helps identify and resolve bottlenecks and inefficiencies. It aids capacity planning and security by detecting abnormal activities and potential security threats. Regular monitoring facilitates troubleshooting, improves service reliability, and ensures compliance with regulatory standards.

In this article, we'll detail how to use the Telegraf agent to collect Apache HTTP server performance statistics and forward them to a data source.

Getting Started with the Telegraf Agent

Telegraf is a plugin-driven server agent built on InfluxDB that collects and sends metrics/events from databases, systems, processes, devices, and applications. It is written in Go and compiles into a single binary with no external dependencies and requires a minimal memory footprint. Telegraf is compatible with many operating systems and has many useful output plugins and input plugins for collecting and forwarding a wide variety of system performance metrics. 

Install Telegraf (Linux/Redhat)

Download Telegraf and unzip it (see the Telegraf docs for up-to-date versions and installation commands for many operating systems). Packages and files are generally installed at /etc/telegraf/
Ubuntu/Debian
wget https://dl.influxdata.com/telegraf/releases/telegraf_1.30.0-1_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i telegraf_1.30.0-1_amd64.deb

RedHat/CentOS

wget https://dl.influxdata.com/telegraf/releases/telegraf-1.30.0-1.x86_64.rpm
sudo yum localinstall telegraf-1.30.0-1.x86_64.rpm

Configure an Output

You can configure Telegraf to output to various sources, such as Kafka, Graphite, InfluxDB, Prometheus, SQL, NoSQL, and more.

In this example, we will configure telegraf with a Graphite output. If you're not currently hosting your data source, start a 14-day free trial with Hosted Graphite by MetricFire to follow these next steps.

A Hosted Graphite account will provide the data source, offer an alerting feature, and include Hosted Grafana as a visualization tool.

To configure the Graphite output, locate the downloaded telegraf configuration file at /etc/telegraf/telegraf.conf and open it in your preferred text editor. Then, you will need to make the following changes to the file:

First, uncomment the line:

[[outputs.graphite]]

Next, uncomment and edit the server line to:

servers = ["carbon.hostedgraphite.com:2003"]

Finally, uncomment and edit the prefix line to:

prefix = "<YOUR_API_KEY>.telegraf"
If you don't already have a Hosted Graphite account, sign up for a free trial here to obtain a Hosted Graphite API key.
Otherwise, you can configure a different telegraf output to forward metrics to another data source.

Configure Your Apache Server

This article assumes that you already have an Apache server running, but here's a quick install guide (ubuntu) if you want to configure one for testing purposes:

  • Install Apache: sudo apt install apache2
  • Adjust the firewall settings: sudo ufw allow 'Apache'
  • Enable mod status: sudo a2enmod status
  • Add the following code block to your conf file at: /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf
    <Location "/server-status">
        SetHandler server-status
        Require local
  </Location>
  • Start the Apache service: sudo service apache2 restart
  • If there are errors, make sure no other processes are running on Apache's default port 80: sudo netstat -tulpn | grep :80

Configure the Telegraf Apache Input Plugin

Telegraf has many input plugins that can collect a wide range of data from many popular technologies and 3rd party sources. In this example, we'll demonstrate how to collect and forward metrics from your Apache server.

First, you will need to search for the inputs.apache section in your telegraf.conf file, uncomment the [[inputs.apache]] line:

[[inputs.apache]]

Then, you will need to uncomment the 'urls' line:

      urls = ["http://localhost/server-status?auto"]

    Finally, you can save your changes, restart the Redis service, and run the telegraf daemon using the following command. This will help you see if there are any configuration errors in the output:

    telegraf --config telegraf.conf

    Telegraf will now be forwarding roughly 40 metrics (per host), to your configured datasource. This is what the metrics look like in the Graphite format:

    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.BusyWorkers
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.BytesPerReq
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.BytesPerSec
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.CPUChildrenSystem
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.CPUChildrenUser
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.CPULoad
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.CPUSystem
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.CPUUser
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ConnsAsyncClosing
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ConnsAsyncKeepAlive
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ConnsAsyncWriting
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ConnsTotal
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.DurationPerReq
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.IdleWorkers
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.Load1
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.Load15
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.Load5
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ParentServerConfigGeneration
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ParentServerMPMGeneration
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.Processes
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ReqPerSec
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.ServerUptimeSeconds
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.Stopping
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.TotalAccesses
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.TotalDuration
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.TotalkBytes
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.Uptime
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_closing
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_dnslookup
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_finishing
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_idle_cleanup
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_keepalive
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_logging
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_open
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_reading
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_sending
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_starting
    telegraf.<host>.80.localhost.apache.scboard_waiting 

    See the official GitHub repository for additional details and configuration options for the Apache plugin.

    Use Hosted Graphite by MetricFire to Create Custom Dashboards and Alerts

    MetricFire is a monitoring platform that enables you to gather, visualize and analyze metrics and data from sources such as servers, databases, networks, processes, devices, and applications. Using MetricFire, you can effortlessly identify problems and optimize resources within your infrastructure. Hosted Graphite by MetricFire removes the burden of self-hosting your monitoring solution, allowing you more time and freedom to work on your most important tasks.

    Once you have signed up for a Hosted Graphite account and used the above steps to configure your server(s) with the Telegraf Agent, metrics will be forwarded, timestamped, and aggregated into the Hosted Graphite backend.

    1. Metrics will be sent and stored in the Graphite format of: metric.name.path <numeric-value> <unix-timestamp>

    2. The dot notation format provides a tree-like data structure, making it efficient to query

    3. Metrics are stored in your Hosted Graphite account for two years, and you can use them to create custom Alerts and Grafana dashboards.

    Build Dashboards in Hosted Graphite's Hosted Grafana

    In the Hosted Graphite UI, navigate to Dashboards => Primary Dashboards and select the + button to create a new panel:

    create panel

    Then you can use the query UI in Edit mode to select a graphite metric path (the default data source will be the hosted graphite backend if you are accessing Grafana via your HG account):

    apache-http-query

    NOTE: The Hosted Graphite datasource also supports wildcard (*) searching to grab all metrics that match a specified path.

    Now you can apply Graphite functions to these metrics like aliasByNode() to format the name and exclude() to omit specified patterns:

    apache-http-query-refined

    Grafana has many additional options to apply different visualizations, modify the display, set units of measurement, and some more advanced features like configuring dashboard variables and event annotations.

    The above example has a dashboard variable configured for 'instance' at index 4 of the metric series. See the Hosted Graphite dashboard docs for more details.

    Creating Graphite Alerts

    In the Hosted Graphite UI, navigate to Alerts => Graphite Alerts to create a new alert. Name the alert, add a query to the alerting metric field, and add a description of what this alert is:

    apache-http-alert

    Then, select the Alert Criteria tab to set a threshold and select a notification channel. The default notification channel will be the email you used to sign up for the Hosted Graphite account. Still, you can easily configure channels for Slack, PagerDuty, Microsoft Teams, OpsGenie, custom webhooks and more. See the Hosted Graphite docs for more details on notification channels:

    apache-http-alert-criteria

    Conclusion

    Monitoring the performance of your Apache servers is vital for maintaining optimal operation and ensuring the highest level of service availability for your business. It not only aids in detecting and mitigating issues before they affect users but also supports strategic planning and security enhancements.

    Tools like dashboards and alerts will complement your data by providing real-time visualization, proactive identification of issues, historical trend analysis, and facilitating informed decision-making, all essential for maintaining a robust and efficient infrastructure. 

    Sign up for the free trial and experiment with monitoring your Apache instances today. You can also book a demo and talk to the MetricFire team directly about your monitoring needs.

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