Is open source the way to go for observability? Grafana Labs scores $24M Series A funding to try to prove this
The best observability platforms today are open source, and it should be all about choice, says Grafana Labs
Observability is among the buzzwords of our times. Unlike many buzzwords, it’s there for a reason: To describe something new, or the evolution of an existing notion. The term observability was introduced by none other than Twitter, to describe the evolution of what was previously called monitoring.
The four pillars of Twitter’s Observability Engineering team charter were monitoring, alerting/visualization, distributed systems tracing infrastructure, and log aggregation/analytics. So, more than just monitoring, indeed. It’s about setting up the infrastructure to collect, analyze and digest granular data on applications and infrastructure.
Perhaps one of the most telling examples of the shift towards observability comes by taking note of the evolution of New Relic. New Relic, one of the key players in what was once called APM (Application Performance Monitoring), is trying to evolve to keep with the times. Its messaging is evolving, too, and it’s now all about observability.
An incumbent like New Relic is actually a good yardstick to use to measure up the observability landscape. When covering New Relic’s new platform, we also wondered about the feasibility of using open source solutions for observability. It’s a natural question to ask: Since open source has disrupted IT everywhere else, why not observability?
The answers given by many people on Quora were along the lines that yes, you could do that, but it would end up costing you dearly. These are somewhat predictable answers, and not just because many of the people who provided them are affiliated with (non-open-source) vendors in this space.
It’s a well-known property of open-source software: It can be free as in speech, but not necessarily as in beer. Refining, integrating, customizing, and battle-testing open-source software is hard work. Of course, there are good reasons why people want to use open-source, so somebody has to do the hard work, which is why open-source vendors proliferate, and enterprise vendors go open source, too.
Grafana Labs wants to be the vendor to build an open-source-based observability platform. Grafana Labs have just closed $24 million in Series A Funding to double down on open-source strategy and build what it dubs the world’s first open and composable observability platform. ZDNet discussed this interesting development with Grafana Labs co-founder and CEO, Raj Dutt.
Dutt said Grafana Labs has come a long way since it was founded in 2014. He emphasized that it built a sustainable business, and while it didn’t need to fundraise, it took the opportunity to inject cash in the organization to accelerate its investments in the global open-source community, and the Grafana Labs platform.
Grafana Labs is built around Grafana, an open-source analytics platform that allows users to query, visualize, alert on, and understand metrics no matter where they are stored. It also enables users to create, explore, and share dashboards with their team. Grafana has nearly 1K contributors and many adopters, including the likes of NetApp and Wix.
Grafana Labs offers Grafana Enterprise, a commercial version of Grafana, as well as Grafana Cloud, a managed cloud version of the software. Grafana Labs contributes heavily to Grafana and shapes its direction. But probably the most interesting part of Grafana and the one that showcases how Grafana Labs people think and operate is the Grafana Labs ecosystem.