Blueprints – Graphing made easy

Introducing Blueprints

Today I’d like to introduce a new Circonus feature we’re calling Blueprints. Blueprints is a way to effortlessly create reusable graphs that can be used to visualize any host where the data you’re collecting is similar.

In the modern age of Internet infrastructure our customers are often faced not with managing just one or two machines, but whole clusters of near identical hosts. Deployed with automation tools like Chef, Puppet or cloud virtual machine imaging systems such as Amazon’s AMI, these all need monitoring and visualizing in a way a powerful tool like Circonus can provide.

Circonus has long supported features such as check templates and a comprehensive API that allows easy configuration for gathering similar data across multiple similar machines. When we came up with the concept of Blueprints, we wanted to bring the same power to visualization of the data we’re storing on these multiple instances, and do it in a way that was simple and intuitive to use. Now that concept is a reality as a powerful new tool for you to use.

Within Circonus any graph can now be quickly turned into a Blueprint with just one click and by entering a catchy name:

All the configuration for the graph is gathered up into the Blueprint. From visual components (for example: colors, line style, and axis assignment) through to the more technical details (the metrics that are being rendered with any formulas, derivatives and mathematical functions that are apply to them) are saved in a blueprint so that they applied to any future graphs you might create.

Creating a new graph from a blueprint is a breeze. One click pops open a dialog that allows you to map the original hosts that were in the original graph to any replacement hosts you’re already collecting similar data:

The selector intelligently offers you only the hosts that make sense for each check. Click, click and you’re done. A new graph for the new host is created in seconds, ready to further customize or share.

Having made the creation of new graphs easy, we wondered if we could do away with it entirely. And we can…with ephemeral visualizations offered on each check:

Clicking the visualize link next to each check now allows you to pick from the blueprints that you can use with this check, and instantly get a popup containing a rendering of the resulting graph. You now can have instant access to the right graph for any check you’re monitoring.

In our own internal use we were taken by surprise at just how powerful creating dynamic visualizations for our hosts are. Blueprints can not only provide us with the most up to date graph for each check on our system, but in times of stress they can be used to create ad-hoc graphs that we can then quickly apply to any of the hosts in our system to see which is misbehaving.

We are constantly working to add powerful new features and functionality to Circonus, like Blueprint, that expand its capabilities and make your job easier.