Step 3. Monitor more than one system with Netdata

The Netdata agent is distributed by design. That means each agent operates independently from any other, collecting and creating charts only for the system you installed it on. We made this decision a long time ago to improve security and performance.

You might be thinking, “So, now I have to remember all these IP addresses, and type them into my browser manually, to move from one system to another? Maybe I should just make a bunch of bookmarks. What’s a few more tabs on top of the hundred I have already? 🤬”

We get it. That’s why we built Netdata Cloud, which connects many distributed agents together for a seamless experience when monitoring multiple systems.

All without remembering IPs or making a bunch of bookmarks.

If you’re interested in streaming the metrics from one Netdata agent to another, that’s unfortunately not part of this tutorial. You’ll want to reference our streaming documentation when you’re finished with these steps.

Even if you don’t have multiple systems right now, keep reading. The instructions to follow will show you how to test out these features with Netdata demo servers. That way, you’ll be able to experience one of Netdata’s defining features right away.

What you’ll learn in this step

In this step of the Netdata guid, we’ll talk about the following:

Why use Netdata Cloud?

We built Netdata Cloud to give users a way to bridge the gap between many distributed agents running concurrently, all without creating a centralized database for all your systems’ metrics.

Read more: Introducing Netdata Cloud: our vision for distributed health and performance monitoring.

Netdata Cloud gives you a better way to observe and take action on slowdowns, anomalies, or outages in your systems and applications. It connects all your Netdata agents through your web browser, allowing you to move between different nodes quickly and use the Nodes View to see a handful or hundreds of Netdata-monitored nodes on a single screen.

If you’re keeping tabs on multiple systems with Netdata, Netdata Cloud gives you all the benefits of a centralized monitoring solution while distributing the workload to each agent.

That makes Netdata Cloud both comprehensive and lightweight. The best of both worlds!

And, better yet, Netdata Cloud doesn’t store any of your system’s metrics. It stores metadata about the system’s IP, hostname, and a randomly-created GUID, and nothing else. Metrics are streamed from your systems directly to your web browser.

Essentially, your web browser hosts a SaaS application with all of Netdata Cloud’s features embedded right into the dashboard itself.

Add nodes to your Netdata Cloud account

The best way to add nodes to your Netdata Cloud account is to click on the Sign in button on the top-right corner of your Netdata dashboard.

That button will open a new tab in for Netdata Cloud, and will prompt you to log-in using email or authentication via Google or GitHub.

If you chose email, Netdata Cloud will send you a “magic link” via email. Once you click on the link, that node will be connected to your Netdata Cloud account and you’ll be redirected back to your dashboard. If you chose Google or GitHub, you’ll be redirected back to your dashboard as soon as authentication is finished.

Here’s what authentication via Google looks like:

Animated GIF of signing in to Netdata Cloud via
Google

Depending on your authentication method, your email address or name will appear in the top right of your dashboard instead of the Sign in button.

At this point, you’ve successfully added a single Netdata agent to your Netdata Cloud account. What about the rest?

Well, all you have to do is visit another node and repeat the sign-in process.

Let’s use a demo system as an example.

Visit the Netdata website and click on any of the gauge charts displayed underneath the Live Demo header.

Once the dashboard loads, repeat the Netdata Cloud sign-in process. The demo server is now associated with your Netdata Cloud account, and will appear in your My nodes menu.

Here’s how the process looks in action:

output-Peek 2019-09-17 10-44
mp4

Once you have multiple nodes added to Netdata Cloud, they will populate your My nodes menu. You can use this menu to navigate between your systems quickly.

Animated GIF of the My Nodes menu in
action

Whenever you pan, zoom, highlight, select, or pause a chart, Netdata will synchronize those settings with any other agent you visit via the My nodes menu. Even your scroll position is synchronized, so you’ll see the same charts and respective data for easy comparisons or root cause analysis.

You can now seamlessly track performance anomalies across your entire infrastructure!

Try out the Nodes View

Next, let’s try out the Nodes View.

Nodes View is a feature built in to Netdata Cloud that offers a different interface for viewing the health status of multiple nodes.

Learn more about all the features within Nodes View and what charts/metrics are represented there in our documentation.

You can visit Nodes View by navigating to https://netdata.cloud/console in your browser. Or, you can click on the Nodes View button in any Netdata dashboard. If you’re not logged in to Netdata Cloud yet, you’ll be asked to log in first.

Animated GIF of loading the Nodes
View

The Nodes View shows an aggregated list of the nodes you connected to Netdata Cloud, and shows at-a-glance health status for each.

Click on any of the boxes representing your nodes to see real-time, per-second charts of essential metrics in the Node overview sidebar.

output-Peek 2019-09-17 11-00
mp4

You can also view raised alarms and see real-time metrics from a select number of services/applications using the various tabs available in the node overview sidebar.

If you add a large number of nodes to the Nodes View, you may want to look into the different view and sorting options. You can choose between full, compact, and detailed view modes.

Animated GIF of the various view
modes

You can also sort between grouping nodes by hostname, recently viewed, or most frequestly visited. Or, group them by alarm status, their services, or whether they’re online or unreachable.

Animated GIF of the sorting and grouping options in Nodes
View

Play around until you find the right settings for you and your infrastructure.

Remove a node from Nodes View

If you want to clean up your Nodes View a bit, you can remove them from your Netdata Cloud account.

Click on the node in question, and then scroll to the bottom of the Node overiew sidebar. You’ll see a URL under the Node URLs heading. Hover over the URL and click on the garbage bin icon. Click Confirm on the modal window. Then, click the Forget button that appears in the sidebar, and hit Confirm once again.

Removing a node from Nodes View

What’s next?

Now that you know how to add multiple nodes to your Netdata Cloud agent and navigate between them, it’s time to learn more about how you can configure Netdata to your liking. From there, you’ll be able to customize your Netdata experience to your exact infrastructure and the information you need.

Next: The basics of configuring Netdata →