Round robin timeseries middleware based on riemann and elasticsearch
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The main goal of this project is to provide a means for long term relevant storage for your metrics. It borrows some of rrdtool's concepts and leverages the power of a modern storage backend: elasticsearch.

The idea is to downsample metrics to multiple sampling rates by consolidating those using meaningful aggregation functions: multiple archive stores with different resolutions. Different resolution archives are mainly useful for two reasons:

  1. Keep storage space in bounds
  2. Keep data amount in bounds at query time

Different consolidation functions (e.g. min, max, avg, etc.) are mainly useful for keeping track of what matters in the metrics you keep.

samplerr keeps storage low and client queries fast by purging high-resolution data periodically and creates elasticsearch aliases to point the clients to the highest available resolution.

elasticsearch aliases

How it works

sampler diagram

In this example, samplerr ingests a metric which has a 5s interval. It then downsamples it to 3 different archives with different consolidation functions. It keeps different retention policies for each elasticsearch index. For instance, the highest resolution data (30s) is kept for two days, while the lowest resolution (3h) is kept for 1 year. The disk footprint is the same for all three data stores.


  • multiple resolution archives
  • consolidation functions
  • constant round robin storage footprint per metric with respect to time
  • transparent query across all archives

Its architecure is modular, so you can use any of its following main functions:

  • Downsample metrics using consolidation functions
  • Persist metrics to the storage backend
  • Rotate archive references
  • Purge expired archives


The current implementation:

  • is a riemann plugin
  • writes your metrics to elasticsearch
  • aggregates data using arbitrary clojure functions
  • aggregates data in realtime into different round robin time-based elasticsearch indices (archives)
  • manages your time based elasticsearch aliases to point to highest possible resolution data
  • ensures your metric stays within storage boundaries


After cloning the repo, you can build the plugin using leiningen

lein uberjar

This will create a plugin jar named samplerr-x.y.z-SNAPSHOT-standalone.jar which you can include into your java classpath, e.g.:

java -cp /usr/lib/riemann/riemann.jar:/usr/lib/riemann/samplerr-0.1.1-SNAPSHOT-standalone-up.jar riemann.bin start /etc/riemann/riemann.config

On debian or redhat you could also add the classpath using the EXTRA_CLASSPATH variable available respectively in /etc/default/riemann or /etc/sysconfig/riemann.


(require '[clj-time.core :as t])

(let [elastic      (samplerr/connect {:hosts ["http://localhost:9200"]})
      index-prefix ".samplerr"
      alias-prefix "samplerr"
      cfunc        [{:func samplerr/average :name "avg"}
                    {:func samplerr/minimum :name "min"}
                    {:func samplerr/maximum :name "max"}]
      archives     [{:tf "YYYY.MM.dd" :step (t/seconds 20) :ttl   (t/days 2) :cfunc cfunc}
                    {:tf "YYYY.MM"    :step (t/minutes 10) :ttl (t/months 2) :cfunc cfunc}
                    {:tf "YYYY"       :step    (t/hours 1) :ttl (t/years 10) :cfunc cfunc}]
      rotate       (samplerr/periodically-rotate {:interval (t/days 1) :conn elastic :index-prefix index-prefix :alias-prefix alias-prefix :archives archives})
      persist      (batch 1000 10 (samplerr/persist {:index-prefix index-prefix :index-type "samplerr" :conn elastic}))]

    (where (tagged "collectd")
      (by [:host :service]
       (samplerr/down archives persist))))


samplerr provides five high-level functions, two of which are stream functions.

Stream functions

(down archives & children)

This stream function splits streams by archive and consolidation functions. It conveniently passes on events to child streams, for example to send those to elasticsearch using the persist stream function.

The sequence archives should contain at least one archive. Each archive describes the aggregation that shall be performed and the target archive:

(def archives [{:tf "YYYY.MM.dd" :step   20 :cfunc cfunc}
               {:tf "YYYY.MM"    :step  600 :cfunc cfunc}
               {:tf "YYYY"       :step 3600 :cfunc cfunc}])
  • :tf time format string to be used to target the archive. This will be used by persist to target the corresponding elasticsearch index. This will be parsed by clj-time.format and must thus be valid. Example: the event {:time 1458207113000 :metric 42} will be indexed to elasticsearch into .samplerr-2016.03.17, .samplerr-2016.03 and .samplerr-2016 concurrently with the above config.
  • :step contains the consolidation time interval to be used to accumulate events to be aggregated using cfunc. This is the equivalent of rrdtool's step, and represents the resolution of your time series.
  • :cfunc contains the list of consolidation functions to be used.

Consolidation functions are a hash map containing two keys:

(def cfunc [{:func samplerr/average :name avg}
            {:func samplerr/minimum :name min}
            {:func samplerr/maximum :name max}])
  • The value of :func contains the stream function to be used for consolidation. It should accept one parameter corresponding to the :step interval. the interface may change in the future
  • The value of :name will be used as an attribute to the consolidated events, and subsequently be indexed using elasticsearch. Following up on the above example: the same event stream will be indexed to 9 elasticsearch documents: one per archive and per cfunc. For instance: {"@timestamp": "2016-03-17T10:31:53+01:00", "metric": 42, "cfunc": "avg", "_index": ".samplerr-2016.03.17"}

samplerr provides some commonly used cfuncs like average, minimum and maximum which are described in the corresponding section.

(persist options & children)

This stream function sends events processed by down to the storage backend (elasticsearch). It is configured using the hash-map options:

(def options {:index-prefix index-prefix :index-type index-type :conn es-conn-handle})
  • :index-prefix points to the string to be prefixed to the elasticsearch index. The event's time formatted using the archive's :tf will be appended to that prefix.
  • :index-type elasticsearch document type
  • :conn connection handle to the elasticsearch REST endpoint. This can be a qbits.spandex/client endpoint, or our wrapped one called connect

Events should contain the riemann attribute :tf which will route them to the appropriate archive.

Other functions


This is a proxy to qbits.spandex/client

(rotate {:conn es-conn-handle :index-prefix index-prefix :alias-prefix alias-prefix :archives archives)

This will manage elasticsearch aliases. Aliases will be created for each archive by concatenating index-prefix with the :tf formatted date and will point to the first unexpired index (prefix index-prefix). Expiry is computed using the archive's :ttl. The idea behind this is that clients will query elasticsearch using the aliases. Most high-level clients (e.g. [grafana], [kibana]) can only point to one time-base index pattern, e.g. foo-YYYY.MM.dd.

samplerr will transparently position aliases pointing to the highest possible resolution archive that overlaps with it and that is not expired. The algorithm is roughly the following:

  • for each index matching <index-prefix>*
    • is the ttl expired?
      • YES: move all its aliases to the next unexpired period
      • NO:
        • find archive it belongs to
        • parse the time of the beginning of its period using :tf
        • add an alias <alias-prefix>-<parsed-time>

The usual way to use this function is either:

  • periodically using periodically-rotate
  • triggered by an event in the stream. For instance you could trigger the rotation when the day changes

(periodically-rotate {:interval periodicity :conn es-conn-handle :index-prefix index-prefix :alias-prefix alias-prefix :archives archives)

This function will call rotate every periodicity time interval. The first argument should be given in terms of a org.joda.time/PeriodType object conventiently provided by clj-time.core using e.g. hours, days, etc.

Note that the first rotation will not take effect immediately after riemann startup. Also note that configuration reloads will work as expected.


Take the example in the synopsis section. Let's say today is 2016-02-01 at 03:14 PM and riemann started exactly 2 days ago. samplerr/rotate fires up and processes the elasticsearch indices:

  • .samplerr-2016.02.01 is younger than two days: create alias samplerr-2016.02.01
  • .samplerr-2016.01.31 is younger than two days: create alias samplerr-2016.01.31
  • .samplerr-2016.01.30 is two days old: expired! move its aliases to .samplerr-2016.01
  • .sampler-2015.02 is younger than two months: create alias sampler-2015.02
  • .sampler-2015.01 is younger than two months: create alias sampler-2015.01
  • .sampler-2014.12 is two months old: expired! move its aliases to .samplerr-2014

(purge {:conn es-conn-handle :index-prefix index-prefix :archives archives)

This function will DELETE expired indices. Use with care.

The usual way to use this function is either:

  • periodically using periodically-purge
  • triggered by an event in the stream. For instance you could trigger the purge when the disk space is full on the elasticsearch node

(periodically-purge {:interval periodicity :conn es-conn-handle :index-prefix index-prefix :archives archives)

This function will call purge periodically.


At the time of writing the contributors of this project are Fabien Wernli and some code from the elasticsearch integration was borrowed from tnn1t1s which itself borrowed from kiries.