Recently the new Uchiwa dashboard redesign for Sensu was released, and it is awesome. It’s hard to describe how much of a leap forward this most recent release is, but it finally feels like Sensu is as “complete” and polished product as other open source and commercial products that exist. And if you haven’t heard of Sensu yet you are missing out. As described on the website sensuapp.org. Sensu is an open source monitoring framework. Instead of the traditional monolithic type of monitoring solutions (cough Nagios cough) that typically come to mind, the design of Sensu allows for a more more scalable and distributed approach to monitoring which hasn’t really been done before and offers a number of benefits, including a variety of dashboards to choose from.
Sensu touts itself as a “monitoring router”, which is a much more intuitive approach to monitoring once your wrap your head around the concept and leave the monolithic idea alone. For example, you can plug in different components to your monitoring solution very easily with Sensu, and you aren’t tied to one solution. If you need graphing and analytics you can choose from any number of existing solutions, Graphite, hosted Graphite, DataDog, NewRelic, etc. and more importantly, if something isn’t working as well as you’d like you can simply rip it out the component that isn’t working in favor of something that fits your needs better. Meaning it adds flexibility. no more hammering square blocks in to round holes. Sensu also offers nice scalability features, since all of the pieces are loosely coupled you don’t need to worry about scaling the entire beast, you can pick and choose which pieces to scale and when. Sensu itself is also scalable. Since the backbone of Sensu relies on RabbitMQ (soon to be opened up to other message queueing services), the busier it gets, simply cluster or add nodes to your RabbitMQ cluster. Granted, RabbitMQ isn’t exactly the easiest thing to scale, but it is possible.
With its distributed nature, Sensu by default is just a monitor. In the beginning, that meant either writing your own dashboard to communicate with Sensu server or using the default dashboard. As the ecosystem has evolved, the default dashboard has not been able to keep up with the evolution of Sensu and the needs of those using it.
Traditionally in the monitoring world, if you are not familiar, design and usability have not exactly been high priorities with regards to dashboards, graphics and GUI’s in the majority of tools that exist. Although that fact is changing somewhat with some of the newer cloud tools like DataDog and NewRelic, the only problem is that those solution are commercial and can become expensive. The bane of the open source solutions, at least for me, is how ugly the dashboards and user experiences have been (the Sensu default dashboard was an exception). But, the latest release of Uchiwa for Sensu has really changed the game in my opinion. It is much more modern and elegant.
We have gone from this:
Which one would you rather use? It is much easier to use and is much more elegant. The main dashboard (pictured above) gives a nice 1,000 ft view of what is going on in your environment. It is easy to quickly check the dashboard for any issues going on in your environment.
In addition to the home view, there is a nice checks view to get a glimpse of pretty much everything that’s going on in your environment. Sometimes with a large number of checks it is very easy to forget what exactly is happening so this is a nice way to double check.
As well, there is another similar view for checking clients. One small but very nice piece of info here is that it will display the Sensu client version for each host. If there are any issues with a host it is easy to tell from here.
You can also drill down in to any of these hosts to get a better picture of what exactly is going on. It will show you exactly which checks are being run for the host as well as some other very hand information.
From this page you can even select an individual check and see exactly how it is set up and behaving. It is easy to silence a single alert of all alerts for a client. Just click on the sound icon in any context to silence or unsilence an alert or an entire client. This has been handy for minimizing alert spam when doing maintenance on specific hosts.
One last handy feature is the info page. From here you can check out some of the Sensu server info as well as Uchiwa settings. This is also good for troubleshooting.
That pretty much covers the highlights of the new UI. As I have said, I am very excited for this release because this is an awesome GUI and there are going to be some really interesting improvements and additions in the future for Uchiwa which will make it an even stronger and more compelling reason to make the switch to Sensu and Uchiwa if you haven’t already.
If you have direct questions about the post, you comment here. Otherwise, the best place to get help with most of this stuff is probably the #sensu channel on IRC. That’s where the majority of the project contributors hang out. You can check out the Uchiwa code as well if you’d like over on Github. If you ever have issues with the dashboard that is the place to go, I would suggest browsing through the issues and if you can’t find a solution then create a new issue. Don’t hesitate to jump in to any of the discussions either. The author is very friendly and helpful and is very quick to respond to issues. One final helpful resource is the Sensu docs. Make sure you are looking at the correct version of Sensu according to the documentation, there are still enough changes occurring that the docs still have some differences between them and can get new users fumbled up.