Cloud Native / Monitoring

Grafana 7 Adds Tracing, Data Transformation, Plugins

18 May 2020 12:04pm, by

This week’s release of Grafana 7.0 brings tracing to the observability platform, rounding out support for the three pillars of observability — logging, metrics, and tracing. The update also allows users to transform data on the fly and create plugins for new data sources in any language.

This release is “the most monumental release for us in the company’s history,” said Raj Dutt, co-founder and CEO of Grafana Labs.

The first of those fundamental changes, said Dutt in an interview, is this addition of tracing data, which comes after the addition of logging data in Grafana 6 though Loki, Elastic Search, and Splunk. Grafana 7.0 will come with out-of-the-box support for both Jaeger and Zipkin open source tracing tools, and Dutt said that the company expects to be “adding tracing support for a variety of other vendors and projects such as New Relic, Dynatrace, AppDynamics and others.”

By putting all three of these observability capabilities in a single platform, explained Dutt, this “allows people to create an experience that links the three together, and we think that experience is really powerful. If someone gets an alert at three o’clock in the morning, they can switch from metrics to logs, and logs to traces, very seamlessly within Grafana itself, without having to switch contexts, without having to kind of transpose different queries or log in from one system to another.”

The second of the three primary updates to Grafana 7 involves the observability platform’s ability to transform the data on its own, rather than relying on the capabilities of the databases or data sources to which it connects. Dutt said that this helps to provide users with data manipulation when it might otherwise be lacking.

“Traditionally, Grafana has been all about visualizing data, but we leverage the databases that we connect to in order to massage and fine-tune the query that we then visualize. Now, you can actually massage the data before it’s visualized within Grafana itself,” said Dutt. “That’s a fundamental capability improvement within Grafana that makes it a lot more powerful, particularly when people bring in data from places that may not have a very sophisticated query language or analytical capabilities.”

Finally, Grafana 7 hopes to dramatically increase the number of data sources from which it can import data through the introduction of a new plugin framework, which Dutt says allows users to create plugins in any language they want — from C to Java to JavaScript React.

“Grafana has about 50 different data sources that we support, so if your data lives in one of those 50 different types of databases or vendors, then we can bring it in very easily,” explained Dutt. “We have a brand new plugin framework that makes it much, much easier for the community to develop their own data source and visualization plugin. That means that the ecosystem of Grafana, which is already pretty big, is just going to explode. It’s just much easier to get data from anywhere because it becomes almost trivial to create a plugin if one doesn’t already exist.”

AppDynamics, Dynatrace and New Relic are sponsors of The New Stack.

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