Nowadays, it is becoming increasingly important for companies to monitor their cloud platforms and so we are going to talk about a visualization tool that is of great help for this task: Grafana.

HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO ANALYSE CLOUD SERVICE MONITORING?

First of all, we should start by discussing how important it is for companies to analyse cloud service monitoring and in particular talking about the benefits this will provide, which can be summarised as follows:

  • Resource optimization. With the use of our cloud services it is essential to be aware of whether or not our resources are over-dimensioned, since there will be times when they will need to be increased and at others reduced.
  • Cost savings. These are closely linked to resource optimization, since over-dimensioning resources will frequently increase our expenses without any benefit to our platform.
  • Anticipation and detection of incidents. By monitoring each service, we can control those occasions when our platform runs out of resources and requires more resources to work properly, as well as patterns in days or hours of maximum use.
  • Notification of problems. Instant notifications, when our control metrics exceed a threshold to anticipate problems.

What is Grafana?

Grafana is a tool specially designed for service monitoring (DevOps) and sensor monitoring (IoT), ie to undertake time series analysis mainly in real time.

Focusing on one of Grafana’s main applications, system monitoring, we are going to talk about one of its strong points, its use as a data source for the main monitoring services of the three most used public clouds:

  • Google Stackdriver, Google Cloud.
  • AWS Cloudwatch, Amazon Web Service.
  • Azure monitor, Microsoft Azure.

The way these public cloud monitoring services allow us to visualize different collected metrics is somewhat cumbersome yet this can be solved using a tool like Grafana, which gives more flexibility and customisation when creating our own visualizations and can even integrate different clouds in the same dashboard.

Furthermore, it can be complemented with relational databases (MySql, PostgreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server), time series databases (InfluxDB, Graphite) or other data sources. All these different data sources can be viewed from the same dashboard, as we have already mentioned in the case of the different clouds. On the other hand, Grafana has quite a few limitations in terms of data modelling and is far from being one of the major reporting tools on the market.

 

Another feature of a good visualization tool for monitoring systems is an alert system that advise if one or various metrics exceed a previously established threshold. At this point, Grafana has an alert system by which it can send notifications by different channels, such as email, Slack, Pager Duty or other integrations.

WHAT ARE THE MAIN ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF USING GRAFANA?
ADVANTAGES DISADVANTAGES
Free tool LimitS charts to time series
Open Source Not self-managed
Different types of authentication and security levels Limited dashboard organisation
Alert and notification system Limited dashboard designs
Possibility of new developments and API interaction Creation of new metrics and modeling with respect to other tools
Cloud Agnostic

 

Finally, it should be noted that Grafana is a tool with great potential. It is not on a par with the great data visualization tools such as Microstrategy, Power BI or Tableau among others, but it does not have the same target audience since it is focused on the visualization of time series as mentioned earlier, and this is an area in which it must be taken into account. Grafana is also constantly updated so it is usually at the forefront of user needs, as well as a growing community that helps its development.

This is why we encourage you to try it out and see its different features. Here is a link whereby you can navigate different types of dashboards and functionalities: grafana-play.

Author

  • Data Analyst en Keepler. "Mathematician with a Master in Big Data and DataScience. I like to be able to generate solutions to support business areas and user training. I develop with Business Intelligence tools and I am certified in Microstrategy. I have knowledge and experience in DB, cloud environments and ETL tools. I adapt to work in teams in any environment.".