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 Prometheus and StarRocks so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how Prometheus and StarRocks 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.
Prometheus vs StarRocks Breakdown
Time series database
Prometheus uses a pull-based model where it scrapes metrics from configured targets at given intervals. It stores time series data in a custom, efficient, local storage format, and supports multi-dimensional data collection, querying, and alerting. It can be deployed as a single binary on a server or on a container platform like Kubernetes.
StarRocks can be deployed on-premises, in the cloud, or in a hybrid environment, depending on your infrastructure preferences and requirements.
Monitoring, alerting, observability, system metrics, application metrics
Business intelligence, analytics, real-time data processing, large-scale data storage
Prometheus is designed for reliability and can scale vertically (single node with increased resources) or through federation (hierarchical setup where Prometheus servers scrape metrics from other Prometheus servers)
Horizontally scalable, with support for distributed storage and query processing
Prometheus is an open-source monitoring and alerting toolkit initially developed at SoundCloud in 2012. It has since become a widely adopted monitoring solution and a part of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF) project. Prometheus focuses on providing real-time insights and alerts for containerized and microservices-based environments. Its primary use case is monitoring infrastructure and applications, with an emphasis on reliability and scalability.
StarRocks is an open source high-performance analytical data warehouse that enables real-time, multi-dimensional, and highly concurrent data analysis. It features an MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) architecture and is equipped with a fully vectorized execution engine and a columnar storage engine that supports real-time updates.
Prometheus for Time Series Data
Prometheus is specifically designed for time series data, as its primary focus is on monitoring and alerting based on the state of infrastructure and applications. It uses a pull-based model, where the Prometheus server scrapes metrics from the target systems at regular intervals. This model is suitable for monitoring dynamic environments, as it allows for automatic discovery and monitoring of new instances. However, Prometheus is not intended as a general-purpose time series database and might not be the best choice for high cardinality or long-term data storage.
StarRocks for Time Series Data
StarRocks is primarily focused on data warehousing workloads but can be used for time series data. StarRocks can be used for real time analytics and historical data analysis.
Prometheus Key Concepts
- Metric: A numeric representation of a particular aspect of a system, such as CPU usage or memory consumption.
- Time Series: A collection of data points for a metric, indexed by timestamp.
- Label: A key-value pair that provides metadata and context for a metric, enabling more granular querying and aggregation.
- PromQL: Prometheus uses its own query language called PromQL (Prometheus Query Language) for querying time series data and generating alerts.
StarRocks Key Concepts
- MPP Architecture: StarRocks utilizes an MPP architecture, which enables parallel processing and distributed execution of queries, allowing for high-performance and scalability.
- Vectorized Execution Engine: StarRocks employs a fully vectorized execution engine that leverages SIMD (Single Instruction, Multiple Data) instructions to process data in batches, resulting in optimized query performance.
- Columnar Storage Engine: The columnar storage engine in StarRocks organizes data by column, which improves query performance by only accessing the necessary columns during query execution.
- Cost-Based Optimizer (CBO): StarRocks includes a fully-customized cost-based optimizer that evaluates different query execution plans and selects the most efficient plan based on estimated costs.
- Materialized View: StarRocks supports intelligent materialized views, which are precomputed summaries of data that accelerate query performance by providing faster access to aggregated data.
Prometheus is a single-server, standalone monitoring system that uses a pull-based approach to collect metrics from target systems. It stores time series data in a custom, highly compressed, on-disk format, optimized for fast querying and low resource usage. The architecture of Prometheus is modular and extensible, with components like exporters, service discovery mechanisms, and integrations with other monitoring systems. As a non-distributed system, it lacks built-in clustering or horizontal scalability, but it supports federation, allowing multiple Prometheus servers to share and aggregate data.
StarRock’s architecture includes a fully vectorized execution engine and a columnar storage engine for efficient data processing and storage. It also incorporates features like a cost-based optimizer and materialized views for optimized query performance. StarRocks supports real-time and batch data ingestion from a variety of sources and enables direct analysis of data stored in data lakes without data migration
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Prometheus collects metrics by actively scraping targets, enabling automatic discovery and monitoring of dynamic environments.
The powerful Prometheus Query Language allows for expressive and flexible querying of time series data.
Prometheus supports alerting based on user-defined rules and integrates with various alert management and notification systems.
StarRocks supports multi-dimensional analysis, enabling users to explore data from different dimensions and perspectives.
StarRocks is designed to handle high levels of concurrency, allowing multiple users to execute queries simultaneously.
StarRocks supports materialized views, which provide precomputed summaries of data for faster query performance.
Prometheus Use Cases
Prometheus is widely used for monitoring the health and performance of containerized and microservices-based infrastructure, including Kubernetes and Docker environments.
Application Performance Monitoring (APM)
Prometheus can collect custom application metrics using client libraries and monitor application performance in real-time.
Alerting and Anomaly Detection
Prometheus enables organizations to set up alerts based on specific thresholds or conditions, helping them identify and respond to potential issues or anomalies quickly.
StarRocks Use Cases
StarRocks is well-suited for real-time analytics scenarios, where users need to analyze data as it arrives, enabling them to make timely and data-driven decisions.
With its high-performance and highly concurrent data analysis capabilities, StarRocks is ideal for ad-hoc querying, allowing users to explore and analyze data interactively.
Data Lake Analytics
StarRocks supports analyzing data directly from data lakes without the need for data migration. This makes it a valuable tool for organizations leveraging data lakes for storage and analysis.
Prometheus Pricing Model
Prometheus is an open-source project, and there are no licensing fees associated with its use. However, costs can arise from hardware, hosting, and operational expenses when deploying a self-managed Prometheus server. Additionally, several cloud-based managed Prometheus services, such as Grafana Cloud and Weave Cloud, offer different pricing models based on factors like data retention, query rate, and support.
StarRocks Pricing Model
StarRocks can be deployed on your own hardware using the open source project. There are also a number of commercial vendors offering managed services to run StarRocks in the cloud.
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