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InfluxDB is an open-source time-series database, i.e. a database optimized for storing data points collected across an interval of time. Developed by InfluxData, InfluxDB is intended for fast, high-availability storage and retrieval of many different system metrics. The entire InfluxDB project, which is housed at influxdata.com, includes:
- InfluxDB OSS, the open-source version, and InfluxDB Cloud, a hosted version of InfluxDB in the cloud.
- Telegraf, a server agent that collects metrics and events from a wide range of data sources, including many different systems, databases, and IoT (Internet of Things) sensors.
- Flux, a lightweight functional scripting language for querying databases and working with data.
- Kapacitor, a data processing engine for real-time streaming data.
Yet with all of these tools for collecting and processing time-series data, there's still one step missing—visualizing it. That's where Chronograf comes in. But what is Chronograf exactly, and what are the use cases of Chronograf? Keep reading for the answers.
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What is Chronograf?
Chronograf is an open-source web application and visualization tool developed by InfluxData as part of the InfluxDB project. Because it aligns so well with the other parts of InfluxDB, Chronograf is often said to be part of the "TICK stack" (Telegraf, InfluxDB, Chronograf, and Kapacitor).
The current version of Chronograf is Chronograf 1.8, which introduced bug fixes and features such as support for high availability. You can view the Chronograf source code on InfluxData's GitHub repo.
Chronograf is intended to help visualize your system monitoring data and create alerting and automation rules. The tool acts as both a user interface and an administration console for the InfluxDB project. With Chronograf, you can:
- Take advantage of Chronograf's pre-created dashboard templates, or create your own with Chronograf's Data Explorer.
- Monitor the clusters of your InfluxDB Enterprise deployment.
- Analyze log information from a wide variety of sources.
- Explore and visualize your data using Flux or the InfluxQL query language.
Of course, Chronograf isn't the only tool for visualizing system data, events, and logs. Grafana is an open-source analytics and visualization platform that's compatible with performance monitoring solutions such as Graphite and Prometheus. We've written an entire series on the differences between Grafana and Chronograf, and how to choose between them. To learn more, check out the links below from our blog:
- Grafana vs. Chronograf and InfluxDB
- Grafana vs. Chronograf: The Dashboards
- Grafana vs. Chronograf: Pricing
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What are the Use Cases of Chronograf?
In the words of InfluxDB: "Chronograf allows you to quickly see the data that you have stored in InfluxDB so you can build robust queries and alerts. It is simple to use and includes templates and libraries to allow you to rapidly build dashboards with real-time visualizations of your data."
As discussed above, Chronograf has two main functions: data visualization and system administration. The potential use cases of Chronograf include:
- Infrastructure management: Through Chronograf, you can view all of the hosts and host statuses in your IT infrastructure, as well as each host's configured application.
- Alert management: Chronograf integrates with Kapacitor, which can perform tasks such as generating alerts and running ETL jobs. With Chronograf, you can enable and disable alert rules, view active alerts, and send alerts to endpoints such as Slack, email, Telegram, and Kafka.
- Data visualization: As discussed above, you can use Chronograf's pre-created dashboards to monitor and manage your systems and applications, or create your own custom dashboard. Chronograf's Data Explorer feature also allows you to query and dig deeper into your data to uncover hidden insights and trends.
- Database management: Through Chronograf, you can create and delete databases and users, view currently running queries, and change user permissions.
- Multi-organization and multi-user support: Finally, Chronograf lets you create organizations and assign users and restrict user access to administration functions. (Note that OAuth 2.0 authentication must be enabled to use these capabilities.)
Installing Chronograf is fairly straightforward. Chronograf is compatible with UNIX operating systems such as macOS and Linux distributions such as Ubuntu, RedHat, Debian, and CentOS.
How MetricFire Can Help!
Both Grafana and Chronograf are feature-rich, user-friendly visualization tools. In most cases, the choice between them will boil down to which other solutions you want to work with: Grafana for Prometheus and Graphite, Chronograf for InfluxDB.
MetricFire is a cloud infrastructure and application monitoring platform with a simple goal: making it easier to understand your system and application metrics. We offer a hosted Prometheus with Grafana solution that handles all the technical details and challenges for you—including scaling, data storage, and support and maintenance—so that you can spend more time analyzing metrics and less time pulling your hair out.
To learn more, check out our blog for the latest news and updates, or get in touch with us today for a chat about your business needs and objectives.
You can also sign up for a free trial of MetricFire and schedule a demo with us for an easy, no-risk way to explore Prometheus and Grafana.