InfluxDB and Grafana


When buzzards are picking at your eyes, maybe it’s time to move a little. Do a little meandering, and you might discover that the world is larger, and more fun, than you imagined. Perhaps you realize that what was once a thriving oasis has now turned into a putrid cesspool riddled with parasites.

InfluxDB is what’s knowns as a “streaming database”. The idea is that it’s a database that collects samples over time. Once the sample is collected, it doesn’t change. Eventually the sample gets too old, and is discarded. This is different from traditional databases where the values may change over time, and the deletion of records is not normally based on age.

This sounds familiar doesn’t it?

Now, you probably want to draw some sort of timeline, or graph, that represents the values you popped into InfluxDB. Enter, Grafana. It’s a dashboard designer that can interface with InfluxDB (and other databases too) and show pretty graphs and tables in a web page w/o requiring any HTML/Javascript coding.

If you want to test this wonderful combination of software, you’ll probably want to run Docker, and visit this link.

Now, I’ve already abandoned the idea of using InfluxDB/Grafana for the kind of stuff I mess around with. InfluxDB’s strength is that it can return a condensed dataset over a potentially large time-range. And it can make fast and semi-complex computations over the samples it returns (usually of the statistical kind). But the kind of timeline information I usually record is not complex at all, and there aren’t really any additional calculations I can do over the data. E.g. what’s the average of “failed to connect” and “retention policy set to 10 days”.

InfluxDB is also schema-less. You don’t need to do any pre-configuration (other than creating your database), so if you suddenly feel the urge to create a table called “dunning” then you just insert some data into “dunning”. You don’t need to define columns or their types etc. you just insert data.

And you can do this via a standard HTTP call, so you can use curl on the command line, or use libcurl in your c++ app (which is what I did).

The idea that you can issue a single command to do a full install of InfluxDB and Grafana, and then have it consume data from your own little app in about the time it takes to ingest a cup of coffee says a lot about where we’re headed.

Contrast the “open platforms” that require you to sign an NDA, download SDKs, compile DLLs, test on 7 different versions of the server and still have to nurse it every time there’s a new version. Those systems will be around for a long time, but I think it’s safe to say they’re way past their prime.



Author: prescienta

Prescientas ruler

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