What is Prometheus?

Prometheus is an open source monitoring and alerting toolkit for microservices and containers that provides flexible queries and real-time notifications. Prometheus assists in IT monitoring and makes the department aware of any issues with their APIs or other connected applications and services. The software checks for irregular traffic that could be a sign of an attack or compromise. Prometheus metrics can be used to track statistics such as top selling products, top reviewed products and order to ship times.

How Prometheus works

Prometheus can be run within Docker or Go applications. Prometheus gathers metrics from instrumented jobs either directly or through an intermediary gateway designed for temporary jobs. The samples are stored locally and scanned by rules to either collect and record a new time series from the existing information or create alerts. These metrics are then displayed by way of counters, gauges and histograms. Data is transmitted by HTTP using plaintext or by more efficient protocols.

Components of Prometheus are primarily written in Go, a language that lends itself to building static binaries. There are many individual tools and data collection systems that fall under the Prometheus banner, but some of the most notable include the following:

  • A primary server responsible for scraping processes and time-series data storage.
  • A dedicated alert management system.
  • Client libraries that support application code management.
  • Exporters designed for HAProxy, Graphite and StatsD.

Key features of Prometheus

Prometheus offers numerous features for monitoring of distributed systems by offering support for metrics gathering, such as support for comprehensive graphing and dashboard creation. Other key features of Prometheus include the following:

  • A pull model over HTTP that facilitates time-series data collection.
  • A Data model that identifies time-series data using metric names and key-value pairs.
  • Access to the PromQL, a functional query language for multidimensional data models.
  • Autonomous single server nodes that reduce reliance on distributed storage.
  • Discovery of target metrics using both static configuration and service discovery.
  • The ability to push time series from service-level batch jobs via an intermediary gateway.

Uses of Prometheus

IT departments use Prometheus to try to catch intrusions and issues in cloud environments as soon as possible. It is also used to present site, service and application data and product information that is relevant to site visitors. The tool has been used by companies such as Boxever, Docker, Google, Red Hat, Weaveworks, CoreOs, Ericsson and DigitalOcean.

Prometheus helps those running cloud managed services, applications and sites to ensure proper function for customers. In addition to helping companies manage their own internal software systems, Prometheus has also found a place in customer-facing scenarios. For instance, organizations can use metrics pulled via Prometheus to share data about products, sales, reviews and trends with customers.

Benefits of Prometheus

Prometheus was designed to quickly diagnose problems. It can operate with both machine-centric monitoring and monitoring of complex service-oriented architectures. Its support for multidimensional data collection and querying is often highlighted as an especially strong benefit.

Because the Prometheus server operates independently, which is another benefit since it does not need to rely on remote services like network storage, this means it can still be used when other parts of the infrastructure are malfunctioning or broken. It also doesn't require construction of a complex, large infrastructure, which is unnecessary to support its operations.

History of Prometheus

Prometheus is named after the Greek legend of Prometheus, a titan who defied the gods and gave fire to humanity. For this action, Prometheus was chained to a boulder where an eagle, the earthen symbol of Zeus, would eat the other immortal's liver, every day, for eternity.

Since its introduction in 2012, Prometheus has been adopted by a multitude of companies and organizations. However, it remains independent with the management and maintenance of the project occurring separate of any company.

In 2016, Prometheus joined the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF). It is the second project hosted by the foundation; the first project was Kubernetes.

This was last updated in November 2023

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