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Grafana Cloud 2023: Year in review

Grafana Cloud 2023: Year in review

26 Dec, 2023 7 min

Open source is the foundation of everything we do here at Grafana Labs, and that was on full display this year as we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Grafana and continued to improve and expand our lineup of OSS projects. But 2023 was also a banner year for Grafana Cloud, as more organizations than ever turned to the fully managed stack to carry out their observability strategies more easily and quickly.

“Grafana Cloud is rapidly becoming the preferred way and the most valuable way to consume the entire Grafana Stack and realize all that innovation that we’re creating as a company,” said Raj Dutt, CEO and Co-founder of Grafana Labs, at ObservabilityCON 2023.

Indeed, 2023 was the first year Grafana Cloud became the main revenue driver for the company — a milestone that was the result of years of investment to make it quicker and easier to get value from the Grafana LGTM Stack (Loki for logs, Grafana for visualization, Tempo for traces, and Mimir for metrics). As Tom Wilkie, Grafana Labs CTO, said at the same conference, this investment coincides with a shifting observability landscape.

“The audience is less and less of these early adopters and innovators who want to spend days, weeks, and months learning how to get the best out of these tools,” Wilkie said. “The audience is now more mainstream. They’ve got day jobs; they don’t really have the time or the expertise to learn about the ins and outs of writing PromQL or how to build the best Grafana dashboards. They’re looking for something that just works out of the box.”

In this blog, we’ll recap some of the biggest improvements we made this year to help you observe your systems faster and more easily with Grafana Cloud, whether you’re just starting out or are well versed in all things observability.

Infrastructure observability: more prebuilt solutions, more ways to cut costs

SREs and DevOps practitioners need to understand the behavior of their software infrastructure — an increasingly complex task given the distributed nature of today’s workloads. And while observability has traditionally been thought of in terms of three core pillars of logs, metrics, and traces, we believe there’s a fourth piece that ties it all together for a more holistic view of system health and performance: continuous profiling.

Continuous profiling provides insights into resource usage and latency down to the code level, which is why we were thrilled to make Grafana Cloud Profiles, powered by Grafana Pyroscope OSS, generally available in August.

We’ve also continued to invest in our “big tent” strategy, which doesn’t require users to send their data to our platform in order to analyze or understand it. Instead, we focus on interoperability with the broader ecosystem. 

“That has really created this rich ecosystem that we’re privileged enough to try to be at the center of with Grafana,” Dutt said. “And more importantly, it allows you to have choice in your observability strategy. Chances are your teams and your companies are using different tools, different vendors, and we really want to support that and let you chart your own observability journey without being locked into a particular provider or a particular backend.”

In the past year, we expanded the capabilities of our Kubernetes Monitoring solution, including new features to help manage your costs and monitor your resource usage. We also added a slew of new or improved integrations that give you prebuilt Grafana dashboards for popular third-party data sources such as AWS, Linux, Oracle, Snowflake, and Windows

And with all the belt-tightening companies of all sizes have been experiencing this past year, we added a dedicated hub to help you manage your observability costs. This includes Adaptive Metrics, a cardinality optimization feature in Grafana Cloud that eliminates unused and partially used time series through customized aggregation.

We’re already seeing companies benefit from these new features. For example, identity security provider SailPoint was able to cut its metrics volume by 33% through a combination of internal efforts and their adoption of Adaptive Metrics.

“Adaptive Metrics really helps us to grow efficiently from here on out, without just blowing up our metrics and our costs,” says Omar Lopez, head of the observability team at SailPoint. “It’s given us more control over our metrics.”

To learn more about how to use Adaptive Metrics, check out the “Grafana Cloud Adaptive Metrics: Reduce Prometheus high cardinality metrics” webinar today.

In addition, we also made it easier to securely query your network-connected data from Grafana Cloud or to send telemetry from AWS to your Grafana Cloud stack, and we expanded our Free tier so everyone can have access to our entire catalog of Enterprise plugins. 

Native load testing comes to Grafana Cloud

It was a big year for Grafana k6, the developer-centric, open source load testing tool we acquired in 2021. Two years after that announcement, we launched Grafana Cloud k6, a fully managed, scalable solution for cross-functional load and performance testing.

Testing was once exclusively the domain of specialists, but Grafana Cloud k6 empowers developers, operations, and QA teams to prevent system failures and consistently deliver fast and reliable applications. This is increasingly important as more organizations try to weave testing into every step of the software development lifecycle. And having that native functionality in Grafana Cloud means users get the same look and feel they’re already accustomed to.

We also continued to work on integrating k6 more deeply with the rest of the Grafana LGTM Stack in 2023. For example, we launched Distributed Tracing in Grafana Cloud k6, which connects Grafana Cloud Traces to Grafana Cloud k6 to help you debug failed performance tests faster and proactively improve application reliability. 

Grafana IRM: better SLO and on-call management

This past November we announced the general availability of Grafana SLO, a solution in Grafana Cloud that makes it easy to create, manage, and scale service level objectives, SLO dashboards, and error budget alerts. It’s still early days for SLOs. According to the Grafana Labs Observability Survey 2023, only 28% of organizations are using SLIs or SLOs, while another 21% said they’re on their radars. Still, we see SLOs as a key component of any mature observability strategy.

“Grafana SLO allows you to easily configure and report on and really defend these sophisticated error-budget-based SLOs,” Wilkie said at ObservabilityCON 2023. “It’s something I’m really proud of, and it’s the only way you should really be thinking about alerting in my opinion.”

Grafana SLO is part of Grafana Incident & Response Management (Grafana IRM). We continue to expand and more tightly integrate the pieces of the Grafana IRM suite to help accelerate debugging and make incident response more user-friendly. For example, in Grafana OnCall we added a native mobile app, web-based schedule editing, email notifications, RBAC, a PagerDuty migrator, and much more. 

To learn more about getting the most out of the suite, check out our “Proactive incident management with Grafana IRM & SLO” webinar today.

Application observability

Last but certainly not least, we took some major steps to consolidate observability in Grafana Cloud as we continue to build an end-to-end solution that gives you one place to combine your infrastructure and application insights.

Over the summer, we announced the general availability of Frontend Observability, our hosted service for real user monitoring (RUM) that helps you monitor frontend health, investigate and resolve issues, and query and visualize frontend telemetry in Grafana.

Three months later, we announced the general availability of Application Observability. We’ve received a lot of interest in making application monitoring easier and faster, and Application Observability provides a curated experience for minimizing mean time to resolution (MTTR) and improving reliability across your applications. 

Built on top of the Grafana LGTM Stack, Application Observability includes preconfigured dashboards and workflows that makes implementing application monitoring easier and faster. You can also use it to set up alerts and SLOs, detect anomalies, and identify root causes.

To learn more about either of these new offerings, sign up for the “Intro to Application and Frontend Observability with Grafana Cloud” webinar.

Grafana Cloud is the easiest way to get started with metrics, logs, traces, and dashboards. We recently added new features to our generous forever-free tier, including access to all Enterprise plugins for three users. Plus there are plans for every use case. Sign up for a free account today!