Provision dashboards and data sources

Introduction

Learn how you can reuse dashboards and data sources across multiple teams by provisioning Grafana from version-controlled configuration files.

In this tutorial, you’ll:

  • Provision dashboards.
  • Provision data sources.

Prerequisites

  • Grafana 7.0
  • Administrator privileges on the system you are doing the tutorial on

Configuration as code

Configuration as code is the practice of storing the configuration of your system as a set of version controlled, human-readable configuration files, rather than in a database. These configuration files can be reused across environments to avoid duplicated resources.

As the number of dashboards and data sources grows within your organization, manually managing changes can become tedious and error-prone. Encouraging reuse becomes important to avoid multiple teams redesigning the same dashboards.

Grafana supports configuration as code through provisioning. The resources that currently supports provisioning are:

Set the provisioning directory

Before you can start provisioning resources, Grafana needs to know where to find the provisioning directory. The provisioning directory contains configuration files that are applied whenever Grafana starts and continuously updated while running.

By default, Grafana looks for a provisioning directory in the configuration directory (grafana > conf) on the system where Grafana is installed. However, if you are a Grafana Administrator, then you might want to place the config files in a shared resource like a network folder, so you would need to change the path to the provisioning directory.

You can set a different path by setting the paths.provisioning property in the main config file:

[paths]
provisioning = <path to config files>

For more information about configuration files, refer to Configuration in the Grafana documentation.

The provisioning directory assumes the following structure:

provisioning/
  datasources/
    <yaml files>
  dashboards/
    <yaml files>
  notifiers/
    <yaml files>

Next, we’ll look at how to provision a data source.

Provision a data source

Each data source provisioning config file contains a manifest that specifies the desired state of a set of provisioned data sources.

At startup, Grafana loads the configuration files and provisions the data sources listed in the manifests.

Let’s configure a TestData DB data source that you can use for your dashboards.

Create a data source manifest

  1. In the provisioning/datasources/ directory, create a file called default.yaml with the following content:

    apiVersion: 1
    
    datasources:
      - name: TestData DB
        type: testdata
    
  2. Restart Grafana to load the new changes.

  3. In the sidebar, hover the cursor over the Configuration (gear) icon and click Data Sources. The TestData DB appears in the list of data sources.

The configuration options can vary between different types of data sources. For more information on how to configure a specific data source, refer to Data sources.

Provision a dashboard

Each dashboard config file contains a manifest that specifies the desired state of a set of dashboard providers.

A dashboard provider tells Grafana where to find the dashboard definitions and where to put them.

Grafana regularly checks for changes to the dashboard definitions (by default every 10 seconds).

Let’s define a dashboard provider so that Grafana knows where to find the dashboards we want to provision.

Define a dashboard provider

In the provisioning/dashboards/ directory, create a file called default.yaml with the following content:

apiVersion: 1

providers:
  - name: Default    # A uniquely identifiable name for the provider
    folder: Services # The folder where to place the dashboards
    type: file
    options:
      path:  <path to dashboard definitions>
            # Default path for Windows: C:/Program Files/GrafanaLabs/grafana/public/dashboards
            # Default path for Linux is: /var/lib/grafana/dashboards

For more information on how to configure dashboard providers, refer to Dashboards.

Create a dashboard definition

  1. In the dashboard definitions directory you specified in the dashboard provider, i.e. options.path, create a file called cluster.json with the following content:

    {
    "__inputs": [ ],
    "__requires": [ ],
    "annotations": {
       "list": [ ]
    },
    "editable": false,
    "gnetId": null,
    "graphTooltip": 0,
    "hideControls": false,
    "id": null,
    "links": [ ],
    "panels": [
       {
          "aliasColors": { },
          "bars": false,
          "dashLength": 10,
          "dashes": false,
          "datasource": "TestData DB",
          "fill": 1,
          "gridPos": {
             "h": 8,
             "w": 24,
             "x": 0,
             "y": 0
          },
          "id": 2,
          "legend": {
             "alignAsTable": false,
             "avg": false,
             "current": false,
             "max": false,
             "min": false,
             "rightSide": false,
             "show": true,
             "total": false,
             "values": false
          },
          "lines": true,
          "linewidth": 1,
          "links": [ ],
          "nullPointMode": "null",
          "percentage": false,
          "pointradius": 5,
          "points": false,
          "renderer": "flot",
          "repeat": null,
          "seriesOverrides": [ ],
          "spaceLength": 10,
          "stack": false,
          "steppedLine": false,
          "targets": [ ],
          "thresholds": [ ],
          "timeFrom": null,
          "timeShift": null,
          "title": "CPU Usage",
          "tooltip": {
             "shared": true,
             "sort": 0,
             "value_type": "individual"
          },
          "type": "graph",
          "xaxis": {
             "buckets": null,
             "mode": "time",
             "name": null,
             "show": true,
             "values": [ ]
          },
          "yaxes": [
             {
                "format": "short",
                "label": null,
                "logBase": 1,
                "max": null,
                "min": null,
                "show": true
             },
             {
                "format": "short",
                "label": null,
                "logBase": 1,
                "max": null,
                "min": null,
                "show": true
             }
          ]
       }
    ],
    "refresh": "",
    "rows": [ ],
    "schemaVersion": 16,
    "style": "dark",
    "tags": [
       "kubernetes"
    ],
    "templating": {
       "list": [ ]
    },
    "time": {
       "from": "now-6h",
       "to": "now"
    },
    "timepicker": {
       "refresh_intervals": [
          "5s",
          "10s",
          "30s",
          "1m",
          "5m",
          "15m",
          "30m",
          "1h",
          "2h",
          "1d"
       ],
       "time_options": [
          "5m",
          "15m",
          "1h",
          "6h",
          "12h",
          "24h",
          "2d",
          "7d",
          "30d"
       ]
    },
    "timezone": "browser",
    "title": "Cluster",
    "version": 0
    }
    
  2. Restart Grafana to provision the new dashboard or wait 10 seconds for Grafana to automatically create the dashboard.

  3. In the sidebar, hover the cursor over Dashboards (squares) icon, and then click Manage. The dashboard appears in a Services folder.

If you don’t specify an id in the dashboard definition, then Grafana assigns one during provisioning. You can set the id yourself if you want to reference the dashboard from other dashboards. Be careful to not use the same id for multiple dashboards, as this will cause a conflict.

Congratulations

Congratulations, you made it to the end of this tutorial!

Dashboard definitions can get unwieldly as more panels and configurations are added to them. There are a number of open source tools available to make it easier to manage dashboard definitions:

Learn more