Learn about the Wavefront platform.

Wavefront is a high-performance streaming analytics platform that helps you monitor and optimize your environment. The service is unique because it can scale to very high data ingestion rates and query loads. That means you can collect data from more and more services, and can still look at details about earlier data collected by Wavefront.

Wavefront has these main components:

  • The Wavefront service runs the metrics collection engine. The Wavefront service can get metrics from a Wavefront proxy, or ingest metrics directly from certain external cloud services such as Amazon Web Services.
  • The Wavefront proxy forwards data to the Wavefront service in a secure, fast, and reliable way.
    • A collector agent such as Telegraf can send data to the proxy or
    • You can send your metrics directly to the proxy – as long as the data is in one of the supported data formats. For example, if your environment already includes a metrics collection infrastructure, you can do some pre-processing on the data and send them to the proxy.

Wavefront architecture

You can view data from many sources in Wavefront. For example, you can view data from several data centers, on-prem or in the cloud – and because Wavefront keeps all the details, you can go back and look at data you collected much earlier.

Let’s have a look at these Wavefront components.

Wavefront Application

The Wavefront application has the following components:

  • user interface
  • REST API
  • query layer
  • compute layer
  • storage layer
  • data ingestion layer

Each layer scales to accommodate different use cases, data quantities, and ingestion rates.

User Interface Layer

The user interface (UI) is displayed in a browser. You log in to the Wavefront UI from a standard web browser, in many cases using an SSO solution. One unique feature of the UI is that it can display charts with data over any range of time (e.g. over an entire year).

Custom applications can access all actions within the Wavefront UI using the Wavefront REST API.

Query Layer

All queries and computations are processed within the query and compute layers in the Wavefront application.

The Wavefront Query Language allows you to set up your own key performance indicators from all of your metric data. The query language supports sophisticated statistical functions. You can construct simple and complex queries across multiple metrics and sources and leverage any combination of functions. Functions include arithmetic operators, aggregate functions, time functions, filtering operators, conditional functions, etc.

The primary job of the query layer is to execute Wavefront Query Language queries in the most efficient way. The query layer is optimized to scale to the enormous data volumes that Wavefront collects and maintains. The optimization avoids unnecessary calls on the storage layer, and ensures a very fast speed-of-thought response time. Queries can drive charts or alerts. An alert can notify an individual or a group in your company about a particular condition. For example, you can alert operations if a server goes down. The alerting functionality integrates with services such as PagerDuty to notify the appropriate person or group.

Compute Layer

The compute layer combines points of data to display within a single pixel (depending on screen resolution) according to the summarization method that is most appropriate for your use case. For example, you can compare your data center’s performance during the holiday period in two different years. All calculations are done on the raw data set to ensure you get the most accurate representation.

Storage Layer

The storage layer is designed to be elastic to accommodate an ever-changing number of metrics and sources. There is no fixed limit on the amount of data that can be stored in the storage layer.

Data Ingestion Layer

The data ingestion layer can accommodate extremely high data rates, in excess of 1 million points per second. It can be scaled depending on expected data rates and growth plans. You can increase the capacity of both the storage layer and the data ingestion layer as your Wavefront usage grows.

Wavefront Proxy

The Wavefront proxy allows you to send your data to Wavefront in a secure, fast, and reliable manner. The proxy works with the Wavefront service to ensure end-to-end flow control. When it detects network connectivity issues, the proxy queues metrics in memory and on disk. Once connectivity is restored, the proxy replays queued metrics but prioritizes real-time traffic. There are many ways to configure the proxy to tune this behavior.

The proxy preprocessor allows you to correct errors in the metrics coming from your source, reducing the number of invalid metrics which would otherwise be rejected by the proxy.

The proxy generates its own internal metrics for easy monitoring of the pipeline within Wavefront. In initial deployments, you can start with one Wavefront proxy. To enable fault tolerance and higher data rates, production environments typically use a load balancer that sends data to multiple proxies:

Wavefront architecture load balanced

Collector Agent

Collector agents collect metrics from monitored systems and send them to the Wavefront proxy. Monitored systems can include hosts, containers, and different types of applications. Wavefront supports many standard collector agents, including Telegraf, Docker cAdvisor​, and others.