Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of Graphite and Mimir so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how Graphite and Mimir perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
Graphite vs Mimir Breakdown
Time series database
Time series database
Graphite can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud, and it supports horizontal scaling by partitioning data across multiple backend nodes.
Grafana Mimir is a time series database designed for high-performance, real-time monitoring, and analytics. It features a distributed architecture, allowing for horizontal scaling across multiple nodes to handle large volumes of data and queries. It can be deployed on-prem due to being open source or as a managed solution hosted by Grafana
Monitoring, observability, IoT, real-time analytics, DevOps, application performance monitoring
Monitoring, observability, IoT
Horizontally scalable, supports clustering and replication for high availability and performance
Graphite is an open-source monitoring and graphing tool created in 2006 by Orbitz and open sourced in 2008. Graphite is designed for storing time series data and is widely used for collecting, storing, and visualizing metrics from various sources, such as application performance, system monitoring, and business analytics.
Grafana Mimir is an open-source software project that provides a scalable long-term storage solution for Prometheus. Started at Grafana Labs and announced in 2022, Grafana Mimir aims to become the most scalable and performant open-source time series database for metrics. The project incorporates the knowledge and experience gained by Grafana Labs engineers from running Grafana Enterprise Metrics and Grafana Cloud Metrics at massive scale.
Graphite for Time Series Data
Graphite is specifically designed and optimized for time series data. It uses the Whisper database format, which efficiently stores and manages time series data by automatically aggregating and expiring data based on user-defined retention policies. Graphite supports a wide range of functions for querying, transforming, and aggregating time series data, enabling users to create custom graphs and dashboards. However, as Graphite focuses exclusively on time series data, it may not be suitable for other types of data or use cases that require more advanced data modeling or querying capabilities.
Mimir for Time Series Data
Grafana Mimir is well-suited for handling time series data, making it a suitable choice for scenarios involving metric storage and analysis. It provides long-term storage capabilities for Prometheus, a popular open-source monitoring and alerting system. With Grafana Mimir, users can store and query time series metrics over extended periods, allowing for historical analysis and trend detection. It is especially useful for applications that require scalable and performant storage of time series data for metrics monitoring and observability purposes.
Graphite Key Concepts
- Metric: A metric in Graphite represents a time series data point, consisting of a path (name), timestamp, and value.
- Series: A series is a collection of metrics that are all related to the same thing. For example, you might have a series for CPU usage, a series for memory usage, and a series for disk usage.
- Whisper: Whisper is a fixed-size, file-based time series database format used by Graphite. It automatically manages data retention and aggregation.
- Carbon: Carbon is the daemon responsible for receiving, caching, and storing metrics in Graphite. It listens for incoming metrics and writes them to Whisper files.
- Graphite-web: Graphite-web is the web application that provides a user interface for visualizing and querying the stored time series data.
Mimir Key Concepts
- Metrics: In Grafana Mimir, metrics represent the measurements or observations tracked over time. They can include various types of data, such as system metrics, application performance metrics, or sensor data.
- Long-term Storage: Grafana Mimir provides a storage solution specifically tailored for long-term retention of time series data, allowing users to store and query historical metrics over extended periods.
- Microservices: Grafana Mimir adopts a microservices-based architecture, where the system consists of multiple horizontally scalable microservices that can operate independently and in parallel.
Graphite’s architecture consists of several components, including Carbon, Whisper, and Graphite-web. Carbon is responsible for receiving metrics from various sources, caching them in memory, and storing them in Whisper files. Whisper is a file-based time series database format that efficiently manages data retention and aggregation. Graphite-web is the web application that provides a user interface for querying and visualizing the stored time series data. Graphite can be deployed on a single server or distributed across multiple servers for improved performance and scalability.
Grafana Mimir adopts a microservices-based architecture, where the system comprises multiple horizontally scalable microservices. These microservices can operate independently and in parallel, allowing for efficient distribution of workload and scalability. Grafana Mimir’s components are compiled into a single binary, providing a unified and cohesive system. The architecture is designed to be highly available and multi-tenant, enabling multiple users and applications to utilize the database concurrently. This distributed architecture ensures scalability and resilience in handling large-scale metric storage and retrieval scenarios.
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Real-time monitoring and visualization
Graphite provides real-time monitoring and visualization capabilities, allowing users to track and analyze their time series data as it is collected.
Flexible querying and aggregation functions
Graphite supports a wide range of functions for querying, transforming, and aggregating time series data, enabling users to create custom graphs and dashboards tailored to their specific needs.
Data retention and aggregation
Graphite’s Whisper database format automatically manages data retention and aggregation, reducing storage requirements and improving query performance.
Grafana Mimir is designed to scale horizontally, enabling the system to handle growing data volumes and increasing workloads. Its horizontally scalable microservices architecture allows for seamless expansion and improved performance.
Grafana Mimir provides high availability by ensuring redundancy and fault tolerance. It allows for replication and distribution of data across multiple nodes, ensuring data durability and continuous availability of stored metrics.
Grafana Mimir offers a dedicated solution for long-term storage of time series metrics. It provides efficient storage and retrieval mechanisms, allowing users to retain and analyze historical metric data over extended periods.
Graphite Use Cases
Application performance monitoring
Graphite is widely used for monitoring the performance of applications and services, helping developers and operations teams track key metrics, such as response times, error rates, and resource utilization. By visualizing these metrics in real-time, users can identify performance bottlenecks, detect issues, and optimize their applications for better performance and reliability.
Infrastructure and system monitoring
Graphite is also popular for monitoring the health and performance of servers, networks, and other infrastructure components. By collecting and analyzing metrics such as CPU usage, memory consumption, network latency, and disk I/O, IT administrators can ensure their infrastructure is running smoothly and proactively address potential issues before they impact system performance or availability.
Business analytics and metrics
In addition to technical monitoring, Graphite can be used for tracking and visualizing business-related metrics, such as user engagement, sales data, or marketing campaign performance. By visualizing and analyzing these metrics over time, business stakeholders can gain insights into trends, identify opportunities for growth, and make data-driven decisions to improve their operations.
Mimir Use Cases
Metrics Monitoring and Observability
Grafana Mimir is well-suited for monitoring and observability use cases. It enables the storage and analysis of time series metrics, allowing users to monitor the performance, health, and behavior of their systems and applications in real-time.
Long Term Metric Storage
With its focus on providing scalable long-term storage, Grafana Mimir is ideal for applications that require retaining and analyzing historical metric data over extended periods. It allows users to store and query large volumes of time series data generated by Prometheus.
Trend and anomaly detection
By using Mimir for storing long term historical data it can be useful for detecting trends in your metrics and also for comparing current metrics to historical data to detect outliers and anomalies
Graphite Pricing Model
Graphite is an open-source project, and as such, it is freely available for users to download, install, and use without any licensing fees. However, users are responsible for setting up and maintaining their own Graphite infrastructure, which may involve costs related to server hardware, storage, and operational expenses. There are also several commercial products and services that build on top of or integrate with Graphite, offering additional features, support, or managed hosting options at varying price points.
Mimir Pricing Model
Grafana Mimir is an open-source project, which means it is freely available for usage and does not require any licensing fees. Users can download the source code and deploy Grafana Mimir on their own infrastructure without incurring direct costs. However, it’s important to consider the operational costs associated with hosting and maintaining the database infrastructure.
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