Table of Contents
Grafana is a monitoring system that helps you visualize your infrastructure and provides notifications when errors occur. It offers interesting features on some versions as it's the case on v7 and v8. We will go through some that are very interesting in particular Panel editor, Tracing UI, bar graph, and visualization.
With MetricFire specializing in hosted monitoring, you can easily make a Grafana dashboard by booking a demo or signing on to the free trial immediately. It can save you a lot of time and effort. You can read this article on our blog on Grafana Alerts.
Grafana aids in infrastructure visualization and notifications.
Some of Grafana’s key features include custom visualization, new panels for mapping and analytics, alerts, and more.
Grafana, especially v7 & v8, empowers data analysis.
Why Grafana Versions 7 & 8?
Grafana provides newer versions than v7 & v8, but MetricFire stays 1-2 visions behind to ensure reliability for our customers. You can read our article on Grafana and Graphite.
Grafana monitoring is not possible without panels. Panels can be visualized as free text, a graph, a map, and so on. It can also integrate plugins to extend the features it can offer. The users can customize the style of the panels and create the visualization that suits their needs. A Dashboard is considered a collection of panels containing a set of variables. It offers a lot of possibilities that can be achieved through the features that are offered. Grafana v7 & V8 were major stable releases with interesting features that were highlighted as they were going to offer a new exciting experience to users. Grafana offers many features, and among them, some features can be considered top regarding your needs.
The panel editor is where you can update the elements of the visualizations. It is the basic element of visualization in Grafana for one or more queries. From v7.0, the panel editor was redesigned to offer separate panel display settings. It came with a right-hand side that can be used to expand or collapse the content. On the V8, the panel editor was updated so that all options were shown in a single pane and the possibility to search panel options.
Traces in Grafana help you follow a request as it traverses the services in your infrastructure. You can enable diagnostics to investigate a performance issue that can happen at any time. You can configure it so that it starts when the Grafana server also starts. The v7 release had added support for distributed tracing that integrated two built-in data sources that are Jaeger and Zipkin. It was possible to detect traces of ID in the log lines by configuring Loki. With the updates on the v8, it was now possible to enable the traces to logs not only for Loki but also for Splunk. The dashboard variable can help add a new tracing panel. With this, it’s possible to use a trace ID to create a query for a certain result that you need to display. You can achieve this by indicating a specific trace ID that you want. The query is defined by using the panel editor and it determines the data that should be displayed.
Library and bar graph panels
Grafana uses the concept of a library panel which is a reusable panel that can be used in any dashboard you want. The advantage is that a change made in a library panel is also done automatically in all instances where the panel is used. So, it can be used in multiple dashboards. At the same time, the v8 came with a beta feature: Bar chart visualization that represents data with rectangular bars and supports one data frame. It displays the collected metrics from the different data sources and can be visualized in different formats in the panels. Within each dashboard, you will be able to add the monitoring of different statistics. Say you want to see memory usage over time, then you'll probably use a graph.
Grafana v8 added a new status history panel visualization to display the states in a grid view that supports various types of data like string, boolean and numerical fields. Dashboards extract data from connected sources and then offer many visualization options such as histograms, heatmaps, and all the graphs and charts used by companies. The Status history panel expects data as a simple data frame and it is possible to obtain statistics. A release of v8 offers a revised view of statistics and licenses, which gives a central overview of license conditions and different user accounts. A new feature was added on an updated v8 version with the support of AWS Metrics Insights that gives the possibility to users to save their queries and export them. The queries that are saved can be exported for example to Grafana Cloud Metric.
The new panel Candlestick illustrates the price changes as part of a technical analysis and uses resources inherited from the time series panel. The old WorldMap panel is replaced by the new geomap panel which receives new data layers to facilitate the creation of geotagged visualizations at several levels. The Geomap panel refreshed should make it easier to create histograms and Geojson in the same panel. The order of the layers can be set by dragging and dropping. The users can select markers from an extensive list of icons provided by the Geomap panel.
A new data source and alert manager were added on Grafana and they included a built-in support for Prometheus Alertmanager. The alerting features are both powerful and easy to use. From a dashboard, it is possible to create rules-based alerts by defining thresholds and frequency. You can use alerts to be notified of anomalies and those notifications are configurable and can be sent by email template based on the Go system. Some fields are evaluated as text, others as HTML, and Grafana also integrated notifications with SMS or via services such as Slack and other communication platforms when there are some anomalies in your data.
Data sources and Real-time streaming
Grafana can view data stored in multiple types of databases. Data sources are therefore databases in which information such as Prometheus, MySQL, elasticsearch, etc. Grafana v8 came with the possibility to have dashboards with real-time updates over web-socket connections. After defining a data source on the dashboard, it is necessary to provide information such as its URL and the credentials to access it. This operation is easily carried out from the dashboard's configuration panel.
Role-based access control
Grafana allows the management of users and permissions on what a user could or could not do. It is possible to add and remove specific permissions needed for their actions on Grafana. The roles present on Grafana are administrator, editor, and viewer. It is now possible to block access to certain users/teams to a particular folder/dashboard. You can set that no one can see the dashboard by removing the Editor and Reader roles from the dashboard. In this case, only the administrators will always have the right to consult the table
Grafana v7 came with a platform of plugins that have been re-designed for experienced and inexperienced developers. The v8 offered the possibility to easily manage your plugins through the plugin catalog. You can use the plugin catalog only with a single Grafana server instance. Grafana offers several plugins, and among the most popular we can note the Datadog plugin that allows you to directly query the API of this cloud-based monitoring solution to draw performance indicators from it. We can also note add-ons for AWS CloudWatch monitoring services. Grafana uses plugins for more data sources which also rely heavily on open source allowing in February 2018 to count 37 data source plugins, 28 plugins for the panel, and 15 application plugins. The new catalog of plugins is available to developers making it possible to find and install extensions for the tool directly from Grafana without having to restart.
Grafana is a very comprehensive and versatile tool for analyzing data from a wide variety of sources. MetricFire can host your data for two years with Hosted Graphite compatible with Grafana which is a reference for visualizing and formatting metric data. You, therefore, can analyze data more easily, identify trends and inconsistencies, and thus improve the efficiency of your processes. You can also read our article to understand the Grafana plugins.