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'The Story of Grafana' documentary: From dashboards to full-stack observability and beyond

'The Story of Grafana' documentary: From dashboards to full-stack observability and beyond

6 Feb, 2024 3 min

Beehives in backyards. Rocket launches in California. Sourdough starters in mason jars. Shipping containers growing strawberries in Paris.

“The stories you can tell from just a graph were really surprising,” says Grafana creator Torkel Ödegaard.

But not impossible with Grafana, the ubiquitous open source visualization tool that is not just for monitoring applications. “There is nothing in Grafana that is specific to IT or observability,” Grafana Labs CEO and co-founder Raj Dutt says. “It’s just a great general purpose visualization tool.”

In “Evolution,” the final episode of “The Story of Grafana” docuseries, we explore how Grafana evolved into an integral part of the open source Grafana LGTM stack (Loki for logs, Grafana for visualization, Tempo for traces, and Mimir for metrics), which also powers the fully managed Grafana Cloud observability platform and the self-managed Grafana Enterprise offerings. “That really was the beginning of Act II for the company: When Grafana became a lot more than just metrics — when we added logs, when we added traces, when it became a real observability solution,” says Grafana Labs CTO Tom Wilkie, who joined the company after his company Kausal was acquired by Grafana Labs in 2018. 

In recent years, Grafana Cloud has also grown by allowing you to easily extend your observability stack to include tools such as Grafana IRM for incident management, Grafana Cloud Profiles for continuous profiling, and Grafana Cloud k6 for performance testing. 

Not to mention providing access to more than 100 different data sources. “The thing that makes Grafana really different to everything else out there is the fact that we prioritize interoperability with this wider ecosystem,” says Wilkie. “We’re pretty much the only tool in the world who does that.” 

“It’s really incredible,” adds Richard “RichiH” Hartmann, Office of the CTO at Grafana Labs. “It translates to millions and millions of users.”

And just as many possibilities, says Grafana Labs Principal Engineer Carl Bergquist. “The product obviously evolved from targeting mostly open source enthusiasts to being more focused on the wider audience these days and an even richer plugin system so we can extend Grafana in ways we can’t imagine today.”

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.

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. “The Story of Grafana” documentary also highlights the open source community and the business of open source

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

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