Frail and faltering follower of Jesus

Test driving carbonapi and graphite

By Gavin Davies

What even IS a “high-performance Graphite front-end”? I find out.

First up, what’s Graphite?

First released back in 2008, Graphite collects, stores, and displays time-series data in real time. It does NOT collect data - there is a whole ecosystem of tools that do this.

Its basic architecture is that it has 3 components:

  1. Carbon - which is a daemon that listens for time-series data. Send your data here and it gets shoved into…
  2. Whisper - simple time series database. You can swap out the backend - you don’t HAVE to use Whisper - lots of storage backend alternatives exist.
  3. Graphite Webapp - Python+Django webapp that renders graphs. This is the bit the user talks to.

You could have something like Grafana betweeen Graphite-web and your users

Looking at the commit history, at the time of writing, Carbon hasn’t been updated in 6 months, and was only sporadically updated in the preceeding years.

These components, as we’ve said, can be swapped out. Which brings us to…

What’s go-graphite?

The Go-graphite suite is a bunch of Golang replacements for Graphite’s Python implementations. I guess this is for performance reasons - Graphite is written in Python and go-carbon is in Go (GoLang). For example, go-carbon is a “Golang implementation of Graphite/Carbon server with classic architecture: Agent -> Cache -> Persister”. It claims a 10-20x performance improvement over the OG Python implementation:

taken from .

In our sample architecture, swapping out for the go-graphite components might look something like:

So here we’ve just straight swapped in Go implementations of the Graphite ecosystem.

OK, so what does Carbonapi offer?

Carbonapi is my main focus here. Carbonapi provides a frontend to Graphite. I think the reason for Carbonapi’s existence is it’s more performance that bare Graphite - Graphite is written in Python. Carbonapi is an alternative to graphite-web that is claimed to be 5-10x faster.

You can use Carbonapi to tie together multiple Graphite backends.


Although it’s something of a replacement for graphite-web, Carbonapi is not 100% compatible - see their compatibility documentation.

Prominent forks of Carbonapi have a fork that meets their performance profile.

More info


I’m still exploring and learning this space, this article is mostly for my own notes.