Elastic and Grafana Labs have allied to create a plugin through which DevOps teams that are employing Elasticsearch within a DevOps workflow will be able to invoke a monitoring platform, based on Prometheus, that is managed by Grafana Labs.
Raj Dutt, Grafana Labs CEO, said both companies are dedicating engineering resources to building and maintaining a plug-in for a service, based on open source Prometheus software, that is rapidly becoming a de facto standard for observability in DevOps environments. One of the primary reasons for that expanded usage is that Grafana Labs doesn’t require DevOps teams to move data into a central repository to analyze it, Dutt said.
The overall goal is to eliminate the “tunnel vision” that results when relying on tools that only visualizes a narrow set of metrics, Dutt added.
The cloud platform provided by Grafana Labs is based on open source Grafana visualization tools. The primary tool for visualizing Elasticsearch data is based on open source Kibana tools. Grafana, however, is based on a fork of Kibana, so the plug-in represents an effort to bring those two open source communities closer together. The two companies plan to collaborate on including more aggregations, broader query language support and support for space-saving constructs like rollups as the partnership evolves.
Grafana Labs provides a cloud service that aggregates data, pulled from multiple instances of Prometheus, deployed on clusters and servers. Prometheus, especially, gained a lot of traction as organizations began to deploy Kubernetes clusters that are also based on open source software. Both Kubernetes and Prometheus are being developed under the auspices of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Once DevOps team initially employ Prometheus to monitor Kubernetes, they frequently expand deployments to monitor additional platforms. That shift has resulted in many providers of proprietary monitoring tools to extend the data they consume to include the metrics captured locally by Prometheus. Grafana Labs claims it has more 1,000 customers, including Bloomberg, JP Morgan Chase, eBay, PayPal and Sony, for a total of more 650,000 active installations of Grafana around the globe. Existing customers of Elastic that are paying for Elasticsearch support include Cisco, eBay, Goldman Sachs, Microsoft, The Mayo Clinic, NASA, The New York Times, Wikipedia and Verizon.
It’s not clear to what degree Grafana and Kibana might ultimately re-converge one day, but it’s clear there will be a fair amount of ongoing cross-pollination across the two projects. In the meantime, DevOps teams should be able to opt for whichever open source visualization framework they prefer alongside Elasticsearch.
In the longer term, it’s clear greater appreciation for observability platforms that provide more context will drive a wave of consolidation among all the monitoring tools that enterprise IT teams rely on today. As part of the transition, enterprise IT teams might even standardize on a set of visualization tools that would eliminate the need to master different user interfaces. After all, the only way to actually achieve observability is through a set of tools that makes surfacing the context required easier to consume.