Grafana vs. Tableau

March 21, 2019

Grafana vs. Tableau


Table of Contents:


  • What is Grafana?
  • What is Tableau?
  • When to use Grafana?
  • When to use Tableau?
  • Pricing comparison
  • Key Takeaways? 



What is Grafana?



Grafana is a visualization tool that allows you to see and analyze all of your metrics in one unified dashboard. Grafana can pull metrics from any source, such as Graphite and Prometheus, display that data, then enable you to annotate and understand the data directly in the dashboard. Grafana dashboards are designed to allow you to visualize information in a ton of ways, from histograms and heatmaps, to world maps. Grafana also has an alerting feature that can communicate with you through Slack, PagerDuty and more. Dashboards can be shared, downloaded or expanded with hundreds of plugins that make analysis easier. Grafana is open source, and Grafana as a Service is available through Metricfire.  


What is Tableau?




Tableau is a data visualization and analysis tool for business intelligence metrics. All kinds of data can be imported and visualized, but the analysis tools available through Tableau are focused on business intelligence. Tableau has other add-ons for data management and server management, and developers can customize their own add-ons, taking Tableau beyond their target BI customers in some cases. One of Tableau’s most unique features is the World Map function, where built-in global postal codes allow for very fast mapping of countries world-wide. This is most frequently used to analyze business metrics by region. Tableau does not support data storage, all data must be collected and stored by other technology. Tableau is not as strong when it comes to alerting and monitoring. Tableau is proprietary, and the core product is Tableau Desktop.


When to use Grafana?


Use Grafana when you …

  • need beautiful, simple, annotated graphs. 
  • have multiple sources of metrics or logs and need to see them in one place.
  • need to share your dashboards across the organization.
  • need to reorganize information based on specific team needs
  • need an easy to use query builder
  • need alerting for events


When to use Tableau?


Use Tableau when you ...

  • have business metrics being collected by various applications, such as Salesforce, Oracle, Cloudera Hadoop, and need them fed into a visualization tool
  • have data in Excel that you need visualized
  • need to compare regional data
  • need to communicate business trends across the organization 
  • need a very user friendly interface


Pricing comparison

  • Grafana is open source, and free.
  • Business-ready Grafana as a Service by Metricfire, including hosted graphite and prometheus services, starts at 99 USD a month.
  • For business, Tableau is a minimum of 117 USD per month. One Tableau Creator account must purchased (70 USD/month), then other members (35 USD/month) and dashboards (12 USD/month) are added.


Key takeaways


  • Although Tableau is capable of a lot, its key strength is business intelligence by region. 
  • Tableau has many add-ons and secondary products that allow for a wide range of data visualization and analysis functionality. 
  • Grafana is an open source visualization tool for any kind of data, from server monitoring to business metrics. 
  • Grafana’s key strength is visualization and analysis, with a secondary strength of monitoring and alerting.

Get to know our Grafana as a Service better, and check out how Metricfire can fit into your monitoring environment!

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