Understand metrics structure and how to explore metrics in the Metrics Browser

VMware Aria Operations for Applications (formerly known as Tanzu Observability by Wavefront) provides observability for several different metric types including time series metrics, delta counters, histograms, and traces/spans. This page looks at the anatomy of a time series metric and shows you how to explore it in the Metrics Browser.


The following videos get you started:

Browsing Your Data

90-second video that shows how you can find and examine metrics from the Sources browser and from the Metrics browser.

You can also watch the video here video camera icon.

About Cardinality

Wavefront co-founder Clement Pang explains why the concept of cardinality is so important for observability, what high cardinality means, and why we deal so well with high cardinality input. You can also watch the video here video camera icon.

You can also watch the following videos to learn more about working with metrics:

Time Series Metric Structure

A time series has, at a minimum, the metric name, value/timestamp, and source. In many cases, the metric is ingested with additional information represented as tags.

Simple Time Series

Here’s one example that shows the minimum elements of a time series.

metric, value, timestamp, source

Each time series is a unique combination of:

  • Metric name–Describes the metric. There’s often a hierarchy of metrics, each with a corresponding time series.
  • Value & Timestamp–Value at the specified time.
  • Source–The source of the metric. Host, VM, etc. In contrast to some other observability platforms, this dimension is always part of the metric.

Here’s a screenshot of the time series that is shown in the diagram above in a chart.

screenshot of simple time series corresponding to the metric, value, timestamp, and source used above

Time Series with Tags

In most cases, the time series includes one or more tags to allow a more fine-grained analysis. The ~sample data you can find on each service instance include point tags for environment and availability zone.

metric, value, timestamp, source, point tag

Point tags offer a powerful way of labeling data so that you can slice and dice it in almost any way you can imagine. For example, you can use point tags, to label a point’s datacenter, version, etc. and can then group by datacenter or version.

You use point tags to add extra dimensions to your data, and can then focus your exploration just on that dimension.Fine Tune Queries with Point Tags explains how to use point tags.

Here’s a screenshot of the time series that includes point tags in a chart.

screenshot of time series corresponding to the metric, source, and point tag used in diagram above

How Filtering with Tags Improves Usability

How the point tag filters are useful becomes obvious when the source= filter is removed. The result of all time series for ~sample.disk.space.used is visually confusing.

screenshot of time series ~sample.disk.space.used showing many lines

When you add filters for env and az, the information makes sense.

screenshot of time series ~sample.disk.space.used filtered by az and env showing fewer lines

Obsolete Metrics

If a metric stops sending data points for a certain period of time (obsolescence period), it becomes obsolete.

In the Metrics browser and Query Editor, obsolete metrics are no longer shown in the autocomplete drop-down lists.

Metrics Browser

Select Browse > Metrics to display the Metrics Browser. Use the Metrics Browser to find metrics that are actively sending data points.

To make search easier, you can

  • Drill down and go up the hierarchy.
  • Filter by source.
  • Hide and redisplay metrics or groups of metrics to unclutter your page.

metrics browser with pointers to folder & chart icon for selection, source filter, and info button which displays sources and point tags for a metric

Examine Metrics

To examine metrics
  1. Select Browse > Metrics
  2. Select folder icons to drill down to individual metrics.
  3. With a metric selected, click Expand Info to show sources and point tags for that metric.
  4. Click the metric name to show a chart with that metric.
browse metrics

Hide and Redisplay Metrics

While obsolete metrics are automatically hidden, you can manually hide metrics from the Metrics browser. Manually hiding metrics does not permanently delete a metric or metric namespace.

To hide one or more metrics:
  1. Select Browse > Metrics
  2. Click the Manage Hidden Metrics button
  3. In the dialog type a complete metrics name (e.g. requests.latency) or a metric prefix (e.g. requests., cpu.loadavg.).
    • This field does not support auto-complete, so you have to type the entire metric name or metric prefix.
    • The text is case sensitive.
    • Wildcards are not supported. The star * character is considered part of the text string.
  4. Press Enter to add the metric(s) to the list and click Save.
hide metrics
To view hidden metrics:
  1. Select Browse > Metrics
  2. Click the Manage Hidden Metrics button.
  3. Click the Unhide button to the right of the metric or metric prefix to unhide and click Save.
The selected metrics and metric prefixes appear again as long as they are not obsolete.
view hidden metrics

Learn More!