Grafana Labs debuts new data tracing and observability features


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At its developer conference today, observability platform Grafana Labs announced a series of product updates, including the general availability of Grafana 8.0 and Grafana Tempo 1.0, as well as new machine learning capabilities. The latest release of Grafana includes enhanced visualizations, a unified alerting system, and the debut of Grafana Tempo distributed tracing.

More than 740,000 people are actively using the Grafana platform to visualize data from smart home devices, business apps, and more, according to Grafana Labs cofounder Torkel degaard. He says the features launched this week are designed to help teams more effectively monitor systems to respond to change, as well as reducing the infrastructure needed to run their observability stack.

The project maintainers have been hard at work over the past year to develop new features that make the platform more scalable and easier to use for everyone, degaard said in a press release.

Grafana 8.0

Leading the list of capabilities introduced in Grafana 8.0 is the revamped alerting system, which provides a common experience around alerting for all Grafana users. Users will now have their alerts consolidated into a single page for simplified viewing and management, including the ability to update and edit alerts from the same page. This eliminates the need to navigate between different alerts and dashboards to find the correct information and updates. These new centralized features will work for traditional Grafana dashboard alerts, as well as more complex alerts.

degaard says the features might reduce the amount of time developers spend debugging. According to a study published by the University of Cambridges Judge Business School, programmers devote 50.1% of their work time to tasks other than programming. Indeed, the total estimated cost of debugging is a whopping $312 billion per year. Observability tools like Grafana 8.0 promise to cut development costs while enabling coders to focus on creative, less repetitive tasks.

Above: Grafana Labs Grafana platform.

Image Credit: Grafana Labs

Other new features added in Grafana 8.0 include:

  • Updated visualizations, including a state timeline, status grid, bar charts, histograms, and scatter plots.
  • Improved startup and load performance, thanks to a massive reduction in initial download size, enabling users to get to work faster and enjoy more responsive interactions with their dashboards.
  • Refreshed look and feel, including more accessible theme changes and improvements to the user interface.

Grafana 8.0 also includes new features specific to the companys enterprise product, Grafana Enterprise edition, including a fine-grained access control that allows users to add or remove detailed permissions from viewer, editor, and admin roles. Additionally, Grafana will now cache the results of backend data source queries and offer improved reporting capabilities, including live dashboard links in reporting emails.

Tempo 1.0

Tempo, which was announced in October 2020, is now available to members of the Grafana community. degaard describes it as a high-scale, cost-effective distributed tracing backend built to help manage traces with minimal infrastructure investment, only requiring object storage to operate.

Grafana Labs

Above: The Tempo dashboard.

Image Credit: Grafana Labs

Unlike existing tracing backends, Tempo is able to scale without a complex cluster and can be used with open source tracing protocols, including Jaeger, Zipkin, and OpenTelemetry. With Tempo, users can dive deeper into observability data and pinpoint specific traces in order to answer questions like Why was this customers query slow? and Can I see the exact trace?

By discovering traces through logs and exemplars and storing the traces by ID in Tempo, organizations can gain more visibility into their apps while reducing infrastructure spend, Grafana asserts. Thats key as cloud infrastructure spending continues to grow across major industries. According to Canalys, enterprises spent $41.8 billion on cloud services in Q1 2021 alone.

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