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Grafana Cloud Free: Actual stories about our 'actually useful' hosted free tier

Grafana Cloud Free: Actual stories about our 'actually useful' hosted free tier

1 Aug, 2023 4 min

It’s no secret that anyone can download our open source software and run it, because — once more with feeling — open source is in our DNA. But it can be hard to set up and configure a whole stack from scratch, which is why we offer Grafana Cloud as a fully managed observability platform. Our open and composable hosted LGTM stack brings together the best of Loki for logs, Grafana for visualization, Tempo for traces, and Mimir for metrics, while also remaining true to our big tent philosophy by allowing you to ingest data from a multitude of other data sources. 

“Part of our goal is to make Grafana Cloud the best way to both run our software but also a great way to understand our full capabilities and experience everything that Grafana Labs has to offer,” Grafana Labs CEO and Co-founder Raj Dutt said during the GrafanaCON 2023 keynote

To that end, we announced during the keynote that the Grafana Cloud Free tier is expanding to include access to the entire catalog of Enterprise plugins, which was previously only available in our paid offerings, Grafana Enterprise and Grafana Cloud Advanced, or as a single add-on with Grafana Cloud Pro. 

Now what we proudly call our “actually useful” Cloud Free tier not only gives you 3 users, 10k metrics, 50GB logs, 50GB traces, and 500 virtual user hours for performance testing. Cloud Free users will also gain access to Splunk, Datadog, MongoDB, Oracle, and more Enterprise plugins.

The fully managed Grafana Cloud observability stack can also extend to include load and performance testing with Grafana Cloud k6, incident response and management with Grafana Cloud IRM, continuous profiling with Grafana Cloud Profiles, and turnkey integrations for infrastructure monitoring, such as Kubernetes Monitoring

But don’t take our word for it. At GrafanaCON 2023, Kyle Shelton highlighted how he took his experience with Grafana Cloud from his work as a Senior DevOps Engineer at Toyota Racing Development, and used it to monitor his personal triathlon training at home with Grafana Cloud Free.

An avid athlete, Shelton found himself training hard in the lead up to a triathlon but usually disappointed when he crossed the finish line. “I’m not winning the triathlons and I like to win,” he said.

In his quest to work smarter, not harder, Shelton decided to create a fitness hub that combines all of his training data — including his various workouts, energy levels, and cardiovascular data — in order to track his progress and measure how he can improve. To do that, he needed a solution that he could spin up quickly so he could easily tap into his personal training data all while juggling the responsibilities of being a new dad to a 3-month-old baby. 

With the Grafana Cloud Free account, “it’s really easy to take any sort of data and ingest it into the platform to visualize with Grafana,” he says. “I have the ability to visualize whatever I want, wherever I want, however I want.”

Since this was a solo endeavor, “I was using very little data from my data sources, so I was well under the free tier usage for Grafana Cloud,” he says. (Note: If you are tracking training stats for a group, you may need to start with the Free tier and upgrade to Grafana Cloud Pro or Grafana Cloud Advanced to keep up with the pace of your team’s data.) 

In his presentation, Shelton walked through his setup and the dependencies he navigated to monitor everything from his target heart rate to the distances he covered running, swimming, or biking. He used generative AI to write boilerplate Python code that pulled data from various APIs and shipped it all into Google Sheets, which was a quick and dirty platform he was familiar with. “I wouldn’t leverage this architecture professionally,” he admitted. “I went with what I know and what I could quickly get into Grafana.”

Speed is also important—both in triathlons and in observability. With Grafana Cloud Free, “you can get up and running and have data analytics quickly. You can ingest and build a dashboard very quickly,” said Shelton, who also likes to leverage Grafana Cloud integrations, which are out-of-the-box solutions for popular observability tools that come with prebuilt dashboards and preconfigured metrics and alerts. 

“There’s not a lot of barrier when it comes to deploying dashboards,” said Shelton, adding: “We’re all part of this dashboard revolution.” 

Share your Grafana Cloud Free dashboards and stories

You say you want a revolution? You can sign up for your free Grafana Cloud account today. Grafana Cloud is also available across all the major cloud platforms: AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. Additionally, Grafana Labs has partnerships with Tencent Cloud and Alibaba Cloud for managed Grafana offerings in the Asia-Pacific region.

We’d also love to hear your stories about how you use Grafana Cloud Free at home, in the office, or off the beaten path. Reach out to and tell us how Cloud Free is actually useful to you.