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Grafana and BI(G) alerting

Alerting is a system to observe how your data changes and act when a change occurs.

The three main alerting components:

  1. An alert rule. It is an instruction to evaluate the observable data. Most alert rules have parameters like time frame to check, how often, query to run (SQL and PromQL, etc.), and thresholds.

  2. An alert record. An alert record is created when observable data goes beyond the threshold.

  3. An alert action. It is an action triggered by an alert record.

Alerting basics.
Alerting basics.

To summarize the schema from above, you describe WHAT to observe and specify the rules of HOW exactly. Then every time the rule is broken, a detailed record with specifics is created.

Following the created alert records, alert actions are initiated.

Similarities and differences

The schema below depicts the Alerting as it is side-by-side with the BI(G) Alerting, so you can see the similarities and differences. Each of the main alerting components (rule, record, and action) has a corresponding software module.

Grafana and BI(G) alerting.
Grafana and BI(G) alerting.

Users create alert rules using the Alerting UI.

The alerting records are created by the alert manager. Every time a rule is broken it creates a record in the annotation table, that way Grafana knows to add a vertical line on a corresponding Time Series. The alert manager works only with backend data sources.

For the alert actions, Grafana has an extensive notification alerting channel system. Based on the amount of questions we received and came across, it has a steep learning curve. It allows you to set the channels to configure sending text, Slack messages, emails and OnCall.

Webhooks, which are 3rd party APIs, can also be added as triggered by an alert rule record. However, even if the possibility exists the implementation might be foggy for many.

BI(G) Alerting

In the BI(G) Alerting, we reimaged all three modules.

The video below provides an overview of the BI(G) alerting. However, the code has been updated and some features have been added since the video release date.

BI(G) Alerting in Grafana announcement.