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'The Story of Grafana' documentary: The community behind the code

'The Story of Grafana' documentary: The community behind the code

December 12, 2023 3 min

How do you know that your open source project has been enthusiastically adopted by the community? 

A) Engineers give you a raucous standing ovation when a feature is revealed.

B) People form a long line to meet you at an industry event.

C) Every time there is a release, social media notifications blow up your phone.

If you’re Grafana founder Torkel Ödegaard, the answer is D) all of the above. 

In episode two of “The Story of Grafana” documentary series, we explore the power of Grafana’s open source community and hear from early contributors who did everything from fixing spelling errors to building database support for OpenTSDB to inspiring our “big tent” philosophy, which promotes interoperability within a wider ecosystem.

“There have been a bunch of people in the community over the last 10 years who have been in the inner circle in many ways, even though they don’t work at Grafana Labs,” says Grafana Labs CEO and co-founder Raj Dutt. “I hope that they feel a sense of pride in what they’ve been a part of.” 

While Grafana brings together different data sources, the open source project brings together developers from all over the world. Today, the Grafana community has more than 2,000 contributors who are eager to open PRs, try new things, and yes, even break things together. 

“Every time I have a question or an idea I’ve never tried or Grafana has never tried, we always want to try it together,” says Mikhail Volkov, CEO and founder of Volkov Labs. “You can do whatever you want with Grafana with the help of the community.”

When the community wanted an AWS CloudWatch data source, it was a community member who responded in 2015. “This was my first time contributing to a big OSS like Grafana,” says Mitsuhiro Tanda, Lead Engineer at GREE, Inc. “The community came together and talked about it together. It was very nice to have built something up together. This is a very Grafana-like way of being a community.”

And it remains that way today. “What I see and I really enjoy is that the people who responded to me at the very beginning, they are still very active. They are still responding,” says Julien Pivotto, Principal Software Architect and co-founder of O11y. “Just seeing people stick to a project for so long is really something … That means there’s something more than just the code.” 

About ‘The Story of Grafana’ documentary

A year in the making, “The Story of Grafana” is a four-part documentary that dives into the origin story of Grafana, which started with an engineer who wanted to visualize time series data and grew to become a thriving open source community with more than 20 million users worldwide.

Photo from the interview set for the Story of Grafana documentary.
Behind the scenes: The Grafana Labs team interviews early contributor Julien Pivotto, Principal Software Architect and Co-founder of O11y, in June.

The Grafana documentary features more than 20 interviews, including the Grafana Labs co-founders; early Grafana engineers Carl Bergquist and Daniel Lee; and other voices from across the global open source community who have made contributions and continue to shape Grafana.

The first episode, “Democratize Metrics,” reflects on the early days of Grafana, from Torkel’s initial 14-day commit streak over the holidays in 2013 to the first-ever GrafanaCON in 2015. Over the next two weeks, we will release more episodes of “The Story of Grafana” documentary, which will also highlight the business of open source and the innovation that’s powering the next 10 years and beyond. 

You can watch all of “The Story of Grafana” documentary episodes on our YouTube channel.

Community is at the heart of Grafana. Find out how you can join our passionate and growing community today.