Grafana Provides a Visualization Option for IBM i Metrics
November 4, 2020 Alex Woodie
Today’s IT professional needs to stay informed on what’s happening across a slew of systems, including storage and CPU utilization. Having a platform-neutral system to visualize all these metrics is important, and one of the most widely used open source observability platforms today is a project called Grafana.
Grafana was originally developed back in 2014 by a developer at Orbitz to be a front-end for Graphite, which another Orbitz developer created years earlier for capturing and storing time-series data generated by a wide array of servers, storage systems, applications, and other pieces of IT gear.
Eventually, the creators decided that Grafana had legs, and they formed their own company called Grafana Labs (originally raintank). The goal was to create an easy-to-use dashboarding tool for viewing what the company calls “the trinity” of observability data: metrics, logs, and traces.
Grafana grew quickly after that and has been downloaded over 10 million times. Today there are more than half a million organizations using the open source software, many of them using it alongside other popular open source tools, such as Elastic.
But Grafana has spread its wings far beyond the open source big data community, and today it’s available to visualize data emerging from proprietary data sources, such as IBM i and System z mainframe.
About two years ago, the IBM i open source community produced a Grafana backend, enabling IBM i data to be loaded into Grafana, which runs on various flavors of Linux. The software works with the IBM i Node.js server running on IBM i to push data from IBM i to Grafana in JSON format.
Last week, the IBM i community unveiled an update to the Grafana backend for the Node.js implementation on IBM i. “Our #Grafana backend for #IBMi just got a couple great enhancements to monitor system ASP and attention light status,” tweeted Jesse Gorzinksi, IBM’s business architect for open source.
There are other ways to get IBM i log data into Grafana. However, they would typically require developers to write data collectors. With the work that the IBM i community is doing to bolster the Grafana backend for Node.js, it eliminates the need for developers to write their own code.
There are other options when it comes to system monitoring and dashboarding tools. Splunk knows what an IBM i server is, for example, and HelpSystems of course has a full suite of system monitoring tools. The work that is being done with Grafana, however, is worth keeping an eye on.
For more info on the open source Grafana backend for the Node.js server on IBM i, go to this GitHub page.