Blog  /  Engineering

How Grafana Cloud offers Veterans United Home Loans engineers observability they don’t have to think about

August 15, 2022 3 min

Veterans United Home Loans is the top VA lender for home buyers in the United States and has been making the dream of homeownership a reality for veterans and military families for more than two decades. A big part of making that dream come true is keeping their services – including both internal applications and a robust digital experience for their borrowers – highly performant. 

In their recent GrafanaCONline 2022 talk titled “How Grafana Cloud offers Veterans United Home Loans engineers observability they don’t have to think about” (which is now available on demand), Platform Technical Architect Sheldon Jackson shared how his team utilizes Grafana Cloud to deliver a scalable observability solution that helps his team reduce MTTR and focus on the needs of the business by automating as much as possible.

Eliminating observability blind spots with Grafana and Prometheus 

It all started because the architecture group at Veterans United Home Loans was looking to optimize the infrastructure and automation capabilities of their observability solution. “We just had a lot of blind spots into what was going on with our applications,” said Jackson. “When service outages or degradations did occur, it involved a lot of back and forth between various tools to try and get a picture of where the issue was, and more so, a lot of guesswork to find and resolve the issue.” 

As part of their improved tooling, Jackson’s team implemented Grafana and Prometheus. Their Grafana dashboards provided a single pane of glass for tracking the health of mission-critical systems and applications. 

Utilizing Grafana and Prometheus allowed Veterans United Home Loans to access telemetry metrics for their applications for the first time, making it much easier for team members to identify and solve application performance issues.
Utilizing Grafana and Prometheus allowed Veterans United Home Loans to access telemetry metrics for their applications for the first time, making it much easier for team members to identify and solve application performance issues.

With Grafana, they were able to track telemetry metrics for the first time ever, providing new insights into the performance of their applications. This solution was incredibly popular with teams across the organization. “People really liked Grafana,” said Jackson. “What started out as just a few of our teams trying it out and providing some feedback quickly expanded to more than 75% of our teams utilizing it.”

In order to accommodate growing adoption, the team needed a way to scale their Grafana implementation. That’s when they transitioned to Grafana Cloud. 

Scaling and automating observability with Grafana Cloud 

Moving to Grafana Cloud allowed Jackson’s team to reduce time spent on maintenance, scale quickly, and start monitoring more key components of their infrastructure, including metrics like memory and CPU usage. “The scalability of metrics allowed us to push more than we ever could need to the cloud and still have a 40 percent reduction in query speeds compared to what we had on prem,” said Jackson. And with Grafana Alerting capabilities, the team was able to keep their dashboards concise and efficient without losing the granularity of alerting that they needed.

With the Windows integration in Grafana Cloud, Jackson’s team was better able to monitor infrastructure metrics like memory usage and CPU utilization.
With the Windows integration in Grafana Cloud, Jackson’s team was better able to monitor infrastructure metrics like memory usage and CPU utilization.

With the transition to Grafana Cloud complete, Jackson and team were ready to start building a more white-glove observability experience for their engineering staff. By implementing strategies to automate app telemetry, logging, and tracing instrumentation, the team can easily distribute prebuilt, customized dashboards internally and invest the time saved in achieving high priority business objectives. 

“We’re much quicker to respond to stuff that’s going on,” said Jackson. “As we continue to bake in more of the observability components into our platform, our ability to respond in a timely fashion is only going to increase.” 

Watch the full session to get Veterans United Home Loan’s full roadmap to a white-glove observability experience and to see more of their Grafana dashboards. All our sessions from GrafanaCONline 2022 are now available on demand.