Timeseries

Ntopng creates historical timeseries to be visualized in the charts. In order to store timeseries data, ntopng supports RRD and InfluxDB as timeseries drivers.

Timeseries Preferences

Timeseries Preferences

The resolution of data depends on the actual timeseries type. For example, the network interfaces traffic is usually recorded with a 1 second resolution, whereas the hosts L7 protocols data usually have 5 minutes resolution. Moreover, in same cases (e.g. RRD), the resolution of the data depends on how old is the data.

RRD Driver

RRD is the default driver used. It writes data in the form of local .rrd files. With RRD the retention time for recorded data is fixed 1 year. RRD automatically aggregates old data to save space, reducing its resolution. Hence older data will be aggregated together and finally be removed after 1 year (in fact RRD stands for Round Robin Database).

Querying a single data series is efficient since the data is contained into a single file, while performing more complex queries on multiple data series (e.g. when trying to determine the top protocols) can take some time. Moreover RRD has shown some limitations when writing a large volume of data, usually leading to gaps in the timeseries data points. With a large volume of data, the use of InfluxDB is suggested.

InfluxDB Driver

ntopng supports writing and fetching timeseries data from an InfluxDB server. Since database communication happens via the network, the server can also be located on an external host.

Note

The minimum supported InfluxDB version is 1.5.1

InfluxDB Preferences

InfluxDB Preferences

Here is an overview of the features ntopng provides:

  • A database is automatically configured according to the InfluxDB Database field value
  • It is possible to specify the db authentication credentials if the InfluxDB database is protected
  • It is possible to specify the maximum retention time for data

InfluxDB is really suitable to export high frequency data due to the high insertion throughput. For this reason it’s possible to increase the timeseries resolution to get more detailed historical data. This can be configured from the “L7 Application Resolution” preference.

Warning

Increasing the timeseries resolution involves more buffering into ntopng. This will have a strong impact on the RAM usage on large networks.

Warning

In order to avoid “max-values-per-tag limit exceeded” errors with InfluxDB leading to new data being rejected, it’s necessary to set max-values-per-tag = 0 in the InfluxDB configuration file, usually located at /etc/influxdb/influxdb.conf

Note

It is possible to review the current InfluxDB storage size used by ntopng from the “Runtime Status” page.

InfluxDB status can be monitored from the System menu, entry “InfluxDB”.

InfluxDB Status

InfluxDB Status

The InfluxDB status home page shows a series of measures useful to understand the current health of InfluxDB and export status. The “Health” badge can be “green”, “yellow” or “red”, depending on the current export status:

  • A “green” badge means that the export is working properly;
  • A “yellow” badge means there are issues with the export (for example ntopng is not able to reach InfluxDB) but such errors are recoverable and no data is lost;
  • A “red” badge means there are issues with the export that are non-recoverable and this led to the loss of data points.

It is important to note that the “Health” represent a current picture, for past issues one should browse the “Alerts” page.

The other metrics shown in the status page have the following meaning:

  • “Storage Utilization” indicates the disk space taken by the InfluxDB database which is being populated by ntopng. The number takes into account all the shards, in case of a distributed setup.
  • “RAM” is an estimation of the amount of memory which is taken by the InfluxDB process.
  • “Total Exports” is a counter of the number of times ntopng has successfully performed POST operations to the InfluxDB /write endpoint to write points.
  • “Total Points” is a counter of the total number of points ntopng has successfully written to InfluxDB, across all the “Total Exports”.
  • “Dropped Points” counts the number of points ntopng has dropped as it could not successfully export them to InfluxDB. Points are only dropped after several attempts, that is, ntopng will try and contact InfluxDB several times before actually dropping points. Reasons for dropped points could be an unreachable, down, overloaded or significantly impaired InfluxDB.
  • “Series Cardinality” provides an indication of how challenging it is for InfluxDB to handle written points. High series cardinality is a primary driver of high memory usage for many database workloads. Hardware sizing guidelines for series cardinality recommendations are available based on the hardware.

“Total Exports”, “Total Points” and “Dropped Points” are cumulative counters since the startup of ntopng.

Timeseries Configuration

Individual timeseries can be enabled or disabled based on the user needs or system limits. Such limits usually are:

  • the storage size (more timeseries means more storage)
  • the storage speed
  • the time needed to write such timeseries to the timeseries db (in particular, this is a problem with RRD)

Moreover, having a lot of timeseries usually means slower query time.

InfluxDB Preferences

Enabling a “Traffic” timeseries usually has little impact on the performance. On the other hand, enabling the “Layer-7 Applications” (in particular for the local hosts) has a high impact since there are many protocols and timeseries must be processed for each of them.

It is possible to skip timeseries generation for a particular network interface from the interface settings page. By disabling timeseries generation on a network interface, no timeseries data will be written for the interface itself and for all the local hosts belonging to it.

Per Interface Settings

ntopng also provides timeseries on other traffic elements such as Autonomous Systems, Countries, VLANs and so on, which can be enabled independently.

InfluxDB Preferences