Cloud monitoring vs. On-premises - Prometheus and Grafana

in Cloud Computing , Monitoring and Observability


Prometheus and Grafana can serve the needs of both on-premises or cloud-based companies, and Hosted Prometheus and Grafana by MetricFire can also be set up on-premises or on cloud.

    1. Introduction
    2. On-Premises: Pros
    3. On-Premises: Cons
    4. Cloud-Based: Pros
    5. Cloud-Based: Cons
    6. What’s Special About MetricFire?
    7. Avoiding vendor lock-in


    Prometheus and Grafana are the two most groundbreaking open-source monitoring and analysis tools in the past decade. Ever since developers started combining these two, there’s been nothing else that they’ve needed.

    There are many different ways a Prometheus and Grafana stack can be set up. Prometheus and Grafana can serve the needs of both on-premises or cloud-based companies, and the Prometheus Grafana stack is reliable enough for companies with high service level objectives and mission-critical environments.

    At MetricFire, our hosted Prometheus and Grafana solutions retain this flexibility, as we are open-source at heart. MetricFire allows for on-premises setups, as well as our typical hosted platform, depending on the customer's needs. You should sign up for the free trial here to see how it works.

    There are a dozen different factors which a company’s board must consider while deciding whether to stick with the traditional on-premises monitoring systems or to go with the cloud-hosted infrastructure.

    The cloud-era is on the rise as companies everywhere realize how important it is to keep data, back up data, and analyze data to make decisions. Yet, there are companies who value control and privacy over everything else and hold on to their on-premises servers.

    That said, let’s take a peek into the pros and cons of cloud-based and on-premises hosting schemes with respect to Prometheus and Grafana.

    On-Premise Prometheus and Grafana: Pros

    Here are some of the notable advantages of using on-premises Prometheus and Grafana:

    • Complete Control - If it’s your data and your machine with one cluster, and a dedicated team of engineers for maintenance, updates, and monitoring, going on-premises with Prometheus and Grafana is a plausible solution. You will decide the software, configure them according to your needs, and you can do it on your own systems.
    • Firewall - Now, as you keep all your data and servers close to you, there is no need to open the ports to allow access through firewalls for outside contact.
    • Audits - IT security аudits аim to determine whether an information system аnd its mаintаiners meet both the legаl expectаtions of customer dаtа protection аnd the compаny’s stаndаrds of аchieving finаnciаl success despite security threats. With the emerging cloud environments, it has become a challenge for the auditors to be well versed with the terminologies, encryption processes, and be knowledgable of the cloud system’s constitution. Some audits don’t allow the use of cloud services at all.

    In the case of one of the MetricFire customers, they needed to install MetricFire on-premises in order to maintain high security at their business. You should read their story here.

    On-Premises Prometheus and Grafana: Cons

    The times have changed, and managed services are different from what they used to be in a traditional desktop/server management system. Here are a few reasons why it is finally time to upgrade:

    • Inefficiency - On-premises Prometheus and Grafana are traditionally hardware-based and need in-house updates and maintenance, which slows the entire system down.
    • Additional Cost - Maintaining your own in-house servers and monitoring system means employing more people to manage the whole system. This increases the headcount, consequently adding to your organization’s financial crunch.
    • HR Issues - As maintaining on-premises systems increases headcount, there is also an added challenge for the HR team, which includes hiring and training for more positions.
    • 24x7 Monitoring - The hiring process for the support team becomes tougher, and once the employees are hired, they suffer from the 24-hour monitoring and support task.
    • Setting Up Grafana for all the users - Prometheus may be sufficient for rudimentary dashboards, but most users demand the visuals, so installing and setting up Grafana for all of them can be a very distressing task for the organization.

    Cloud-Based Prometheus and Grafana: Pros

    If your enterprise hasn’t moved its monitoring system on to the cloud, here are a few reasons to think it over, and get it done soon:

    • Long term storage with high availability - If your operations require you to monitor multiple clusters of data on a single dashboard (including long-term storage), or if you need high availability (multiple data centers) for monitoring the data, you will need to go ahead with cloud-hosted Prometheus and Grafana.
    • No hiring/retaining headaches - With all your resources being monitored from the cloud, there will be fewer vacancies, and it will mitigate the forced retaining process.
    • Expertise across industries - Ever since its inception, a community and ecosystem has been growing around Prometheus. Hosting it on the cloud brings in expertise from across different industries.
    • Hosted Grafana - Using the cloud-based Prometheus will bring in Grafana pre-hosted, offering team accounts to providers.
    • Pre-installed Grafana for all users - Allowing its users to visualize the metrics easily, Grafana comes pre-installed for all.
    • Resolved Resource Scaling - No more hassles related to brimming disk-space, overclocking the CPU, or scaling the resources in any other aspect. For the plan you have opted for, you will be charged depending on the resources you use.
    • Long term solution - Managed or cloud-based Prometheus is the next big thing in metric monitoring systems, and it is here to last, offering your organization foolproof monitoring solutions, evolving every day as per the requirement.

    Cloud-Based Prometheus and Grafana: Cons

    With all the advantages of moving your monitoring system to the cloud, here are a few possible negatives that require prior consideration, depending on whether the system is fully or partially managed.

    • Fully Managed - This requires access for the vendor, allowing them to set up or maintain Prometheus, or access to the Kubernetes endpoint if you have a Kubernetes-only setup.
    • Partially Managed - This will need you to manage a lightweight local Prometheus for surface level tasks, sending all the tougher tasks like managing system resources, disk space, retentions, etc. to the dedicated hosted Prometheus.

    What’s Special About MetricFire?

    MetricFire offers an entirely developed infrastructure and application monitoring platform with a sophistication that is hardly offered by anyone else in this business. To understand what makes it so unique, let’s dive an inch deeper.

    • Using a suite of open-source tools that make it future proof, MetricFire is a one-stop monitoring platform.
    • Using Grafana metric visuals, the company has made dashboarding hassle-free and more accessible than ever before. You can use Grafana dashboards directly in the monitoring platform with no extra set up.
    • MetricFire will notify you as it ingests data, rather than after storing it all, making the process far more efficient.
    • You will be alerted in the same, usual manner -- MetricFire has its alerting mechanisms embedded into a single UI, and not on individual Grafana dashboards, which become a messy chore to perform regularly.

    I don’t want to be locked into MetricFire Forever

    MetricFire is a big supporter of data portability, and if ever it comes to it, your transfer experience will be hassle-free. Your data will be exported in the form of Whisper databases, and all the Grafana alerts will be transferred in JSON format. Alerts, though, won’t be transferred in the unified UI format, and you will have to compromise with the convenience on these grounds and make do solely with Grafana alerts.

    You should sign up for the MetricFire free trial here, and see how Prometheus and Grafana come together in one hosted UI. You can also book a demo and talk to the MetricFire team directly about how to best set up your monitoring system.

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    MetricFire provides a complete infrastructure and application monitoring platform from a suite of open source monitoring tools. Depending on your setup, choose Hosted Prometheus or Graphite and view your metrics on beautiful Grafana dashboards in real-time.

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