Grafana Labs Advances Open Source Visualization and Observability

observability New Relic

Content By Devops .com

During the online GrafanaCONline conference today, Grafana Labs announced that version 8.0 of its open source visualization software widely employed by DevOps teams is now generally available. In addition, version 1.0 of Grafana Tempo, an open source back end platform for collecting distributed traces that are needed to drive observability across an application environment, is also generally available.

At the same time, Grafana Labs revealed that Grafana Tempo is now available as a service on Grafana Cloud.

Version 8.0 of Grafana adds support for additional types of visualizations such as streaming panels, state timeline, status history, bar chart and histograms in addition to a revamped unified alerting system that enables DevOps teams to view and edit alerts generated by Grafana and open source Prometheus monitoring platform via a common user interface. The notification system adopted to achieve that goal is based on a Prometheus alert manager that provides capabilities such as grouping, deduping and silencing of notifications alongside advanced message templates.

The latest release of Grafana also improves startup and graph rendering performance, thanks to a major reduction in initial download size and graph rendering time.

The enterprise edition of Grafana has also been updated to provide support for fine-grained access controls, improves caching of back end data sources and improved reporting capabilities such as live dashboard links that can be embedded in email.

Overall, Grafana Labs claims there are now more than 750,000 active installations of Grafana that organizations are employing to create visualizations that correlate data collected from multiple back end sources.

In addition to contributing to Grafana and Grafana Tempo, the company is running a cloud service that makes multiple instances of Prometheus running on different clusters accessible from a central console.

Torkel Ödegaard, creator of the Grafana project and chief Grafana officer for Grafana Labs, said Grafana Tempo promises to further advance observability thanks mainly to its ability to employ object storage to capture complete distributed traces. Rather than only sampling traces, it’s now feasible to trace every request. Grafana Tempo is also compatible with any open source tracing protocol, such as Jaeger, Zipkin and OpenTelemetry, and can be integrated with metrics, logs and dashboards via a managed Grafana Cloud service.

It’s not quite clear how quickly organizations are embracing distributed traces to improve application observability or, for that matter, to what degree traces might eliminate the need for certain types of metrics or log analytics. The one thing that is certain is DevOps teams require more context than ever to proactively manage complex IT environments. Distributed traces make it simpler to track interactions between application services. The challenge is they can require IT teams to store a lot more data.

In time, of course, distributed tracing will become more commonly employed as developers more routinely instrument applications based on microservices that tend to have lots of dependencies that are difficult to discover in the absence of some type of distributed tracing capability. Of course, distributed tracing has been around, in some form or another, in application performance management (APM) platforms for some time. The difference now is that, as open source software, it’s becoming more affordable to implement.

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