Overview

What Graphite is and is not

Graphite does two things:

  1. Store numeric time-series data
  2. Render graphs of this data on demand

What Graphite does not do is collect data for you, however there are some tools out there that know how to send data to graphite. Even though it often requires a little code, sending data to Graphite is very simple.

About the project

Graphite is an enterprise-scale monitoring tool that runs well on cheap hardware. It was originally designed and written by Chris Davis at Orbitz in 2006 as side project that ultimately grew to be a foundational monitoring tool. In 2008, Orbitz allowed Graphite to be released under the open source Apache 2.0 license. Since then Chris has continued to work on Graphite and has deployed it at other companies including Sears, where it serves as a pillar of the e-commerce monitoring system. Today many large companies use it.

The architecture in a nutshell

Graphite consists of 3 software components:

  1. carbon - a Twisted daemon that listens for time-series data
  2. whisper - a simple database library for storing time-series data (similar in design to RRD)
  3. graphite webapp - A Django webapp that renders graphs on-demand using Cairo

Feeding in your data is pretty easy, typically most of the effort is in collecting the data to begin with. As you send datapoints to Carbon, they become immediately available for graphing in the webapp. The webapp offers several ways to create and display graphs including a simple URL API for rendering that makes it easy to embed graphs in other webpages.

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