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Grapher - Introduction

IXP Manager generates all of its graphs using its own graphing system called Grapher. This was introduced in v4.

Grapher is a complete rewrite of all previous graphing code and includes:

  • API access to graphs and graph statistics
  • multiple backends (such as MRTG, sflow, Smokeping) with dynamic resolution of appropriate backend
  • configuration generation where required
  • consistent and flexible OOP design

To date, we have developed the following reference backend implementations:

  1. dummy - a dummy grapher that just provides a placeholder graph for all possible graph types;
  2. mrtg - MRTG graphing using either the log or rrd backend. Use cases for MRTG are L2 interface statistics for bits / packets / errors / discards / broadcasts per second. Aggregate graphs for customer LAGs, overall customer traffic, all traffic over a switch / infrastructure / the entire IXP are all supported;
  3. sflow - while the MRTG backend looks at layer 2 statistics, sflow is used to provide layer 3 statistics such as per protocol (IPv4/6) graphs and peer to peer graphs;
  4. smokeping - (available from v4.8.0) which creates latency graphs and this replaces the previous way we used to access Smokeping graphs.

In a typical production environment, you would implement MRTG, Smokeping and sflow to provide the complete set of features.


There are only a handful of configuration options required and a typical and complete $IXPROOT/.env would look like the following:





For those interested, the complete Grapher configuration file can be seen in $IXPROOT/config/grapher.php. Remember: put your own local changes in .env rather than editing this file directly.

The global (non-backend specific) options are:

  • GRAPHER_BACKENDS - in a typical production environment this would be "mrtg|sflow|smokeping" which means try the MRTG backend first, then sflow and then smokeping. We ship with this set as "dummy" so you can see sample graphs working out of the box.
  • GRAPHER_CACHE_ENABLED - the IXP industry standard for graphing is to graph at 5min intervals. With the cache enabled, IXP Manager does not have to regenerate / reload / reprocess log / rrd / image files if we have cached them and they are less than 5mins old. This is enabled by default which is the recommended setting.

Backend specific configuration and set-up instructions can be found in their own sections below.

Last update: April 7, 2022