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Grafana Labs Unveiled Open Source Project Updates at Annual GrafanaCON Community Conference
Grafana Labs made three major announcements that build on its commitment to the open source community: the release of Grafana 11.0, Loki 3.0, and Grafana Alloy - the company's open source distribution of the OpenTelemetry Collector.

These updates were unveiled during Grafana Labs' sold-out GrafanaCON community conference in Amsterdam, held in person for the first time in five years. GrafanaCON, originally centered solely on the Grafana project, has evolved this year to include the extended open source observability ecosystem.

GrafanaCON 2024: All About Community and Creative Use Cases

"Ten years ago, when I started working on the side project that would eventually become Grafana, I could never have imagined the use cases that it would inspire. I'm continuously impressed by the boundless creativity and innovation of our community," said Torkel Ödegaard, Co-Founder, Grafana Labs. "I'm really excited that we're bringing GrafanaCON back in person and have the opportunity to connect with some of the more than 20 million users who are leveraging Grafana to make a positive impact in their lives, in their communities, and across the universe."

GrafanaCON provided an opportunity for Grafana Labs to share how it continues to invest in its growing open source community, educate users on how the LGTM (Loki, Grafana, Tempo, Mimir) stack fits into the broader open source landscape, and spotlight some of the most innovative and exciting Grafana use cases from the past year. JAXA Associate Senior Researcher Satoshi Nakahira's session focused on how the Japanese space agency uses Grafana for its real-time status monitoring system for science satellites and probes, including the SLIM smart lander that reached the moon in January. Mathias Pawlowsky, Head of Data Science at Planted, shared how the plant-based food company utilizes Grafana to monitor all production data. Tomáš Grbálik, Software Engineer at YSoft, explained how his team uses OpenTelemetry and the LGTM stack to observe and monitor smart robots.

During the keynote, Grafana Labs CEO Raj Dutt presented the second annual Golden Grot Awards, which recognize dashboards created by community members. The winner in the personal category, Ruben Fernandez, built a dashboard to track his commute in Atlanta. In the professional category, Christopher Field of Theia Scientific was awarded for a dashboard that monitors the growth of defects in steel alloys caused by exposure to radiation for next-generation nuclear fission reactors and fusion energy.

"Our goal is to make it easier and faster to get started for anyone - whether they're landing on the moon or monitoring their daily commute - to get started with observability, and today's announcements at GrafanaCON are another big step in that direction," said Tom Wilkie, CTO, Grafana Labs. "Grafana users can build a fully composable observability stack with Loki as the data backend and Alloy as the data pipeline, which then brings that data into Grafana to visualize. This interoperable open source stack will help users achieve new levels of efficiency and insight."

Grafana 11: Making It Easier to Democratize Your Data

The 11.0 release of Grafana, the company's flagship open source data visualization platform, was announced during the keynote. The new updates make it easier and faster to connect users' data, visualize it in a beautiful and functional way, share it with others, and respond to incidents. This release includes a host of improvements and new features that help all users - from SREs to hobbyists - keep their systems healthy with flexible data visualization and allow large organizations to level up their centralized observability strategy, including:

  • Faster Root Cause Analysis with Explore Metrics: Explore Metrics provides a query-less experience for Prometheus metrics. Without so much as seeing a PromQL query, users can now visualize a metric, drill down to spot anomalies, and pivot to similar metrics with the same labels to discover the root cause of issues and get a holistic view of their data. The team also introduced Explore Logs, which provides a query-less experience for browsing Loki logs. Users can view logs by service as well as navigate and filter logs based on volume, labels, and patterns - all without LogQL. It will be available in preview for users of Grafana 11+ and Loki 3.0.
  • Improved Visualizations: The new Scenes-based architecture introduces an edit mode for dashboards as well as a more consistent sharing experience. The new logs table view makes logs easier to view, read, and parse in Explore. The Canvas panel now has pan and zoom, snap and alignment, and buttons to interact with the systems users are monitoring.
  • Simpler Alerting: New Grafana Alerting functionality includes connecting alert rules directly to contact points, improved Terraform management, and finer-grained access control.
  • Expanding Grafana's Big Tent with New Data Sources: Grafana 11 introduces new data sources - Falcon LogScale, Looker, Pagerduty, and SumoLogic - with many more shipping by the end of the year.
  • Integrate with Tempo and Traces: Users will now be able to see profiles within a trace span to figure out not just what process, but also what function, took all the time in a given request.
  • Configure SSO in the UI: Administrators can set up Oauth or SAML user authentication and synchronize teams to Grafana with a new UI.
  • Build observability applications with the New Grafana App Platform: The new Grafana App Platform extends the core Grafana API to provide stronger integration points for application developers. Developers can get started in our new dev portal.

Grafana 11 is currently available to download in public preview and is rolling out to Grafana Cloud users. It will be generally available on May 14.

Loki 3.0: Quicker Queries and Native OpenTelemetry Integration

Grafana Loki was announced at KubeCon + CloudNativeCon in Seattle at the end of 2018, and five years later, the popular logging project (more than 21k GitHub stars) is releasing version 3.0. Loki 3.0 includes several key updates including bloom-filter query acceleration and native OpenTelemetry support.

  • Query Acceleration with Bloom Filters: From the start, Loki has followed the Prometheus label-based data model, which is best suited for developer use cases while keeping scale and cost-effectiveness in mind. This approach made it easy to adopt and integrate Loki within an organization, but made it more difficult for non-developers to take advantage of common search and indexing benefits. This barrier is removed in Loki 3.0, which leverages bloom filters to accelerate queries that search for text strings, such as an order ID or user ID. This update will help users to speed up their needle-in-a-haystack queries from minutes to seconds.
  • Native OpenTelemetry Support Added: As OpenTelemetry adoption continues to grow in the community, Loki seeks to meet users where they are with the addition of native OTLP support. With Loki 3.0, users can ingest, store, and query OTLP logs and metadata to solve observability problems.

During GrafanaCON, the Loki engineering team also shared the project's roadmap for making Loki easier to use for its current users, and more accessible to a broader audience. Areas of focus include ease of operating Loki, the ability to cost-effectively support teams at larger and larger scale, interoperability with other Grafana telemetry offerings, and lower user-facing complexity.

Introducing Alloy: A 'Big Tent' Collector That Brings Grafana, OpenTelemetry, and Prometheus Closer Together

According to Grafana Labs' 2024 Observability Survey, an overwhelming majority of respondents report that they are investing in Prometheus (89%) or OpenTelemetry (85%). Almost 40% of respondents use both in production, and more than 50% increased their usage of both projects over the past year. As reliance on these projects continues to grow, Grafana Labs is focused on increasing the interoperability of the two projects with each other as well as with Grafana - and Alloy does just that.

Grafana Alloy is Grafana Labs' distribution of the OpenTelemetry collector and is 100% OTLP compatible. Alloy combines the best open source observability signals in the community and offers native pipelines for both OpenTelemetry and Prometheus telemetry formats, supporting metrics, logs, traces, and profiles.

Alloy is vendor-agnostic by design and compatible anywhere the OpenTelemetry Collector or Prometheus Agent is used, but it is uniquely optimized for Grafana Cloud. As a "big tent" collector, it also fits with many different architectures, meaning users can configure Alloy with their observability solution to fit on-prem, cloud-only, or a mix of both. It's flexible enough to cater to different users, large and small, at any phase of their observability journey.

Published Tuesday, April 09, 2024 2:55 PM by David Marshall
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