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Methodology

Grafana in action: transforming time series data into decisions

Tuesday, April 16, 2024
Stefanos Peros
Software engineer
Thomas Callens
Software engineer

With the emergence of public cloud and the Internet of Things (IoT), data generation has grown exponentially in volume and complexity, resulting in an increased demand for sophisticated analytics and visualization solutions. Grafana, a leading open-source platform for monitoring and observability, offers a plug-and-play solution to access, visualize and analyze  time series data with ease, as it seamlessly integrates with numerous data sources, including advanced time series databases, cloud services and third-party frameworks. Let’s dive deeper into how we have extensively been using Grafana to monitor not only application performance, but also the underlying infrastructure for several of our digital products, from sensors deployed at remote locations to a wide-range of public cloud resources.

Internet of Things

The widespread use of sensors across the IoT has led to an unprecedented surge in data generation, which requires specialized storage solutions to handle effectively. Time series databases excel in handling sensor data over traditional SQL or NoSQL databases by addressing challenges such as volume data ingestion, real-time querying, and the efficient storage of timestamped data. Furthermore, time series databases ensure not only that data is stored efficiently but that it also remains easily accessible for analysis.

Grafana seamlessly integrates with these databases to transform complex datasets into intuitive and actionable visual representations. This enables us to easily create dynamic dashboards that offer real-time insights and trends, which facilitates quick and accurate data-driven decision making. Our practical application of Grafana across diverse products, from livestock and art monitoring to optimizing smart charging for electric vehicles, demonstrates its versatility and potential in turning data from specialized domains into actionable insights.

Cloud

The ability to monitor cloud infrastructure in real-time is especially critical for SaaS products, where ensuring constant availability and peak performance directly influences the fulfillment of Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Various cloud providers (AWS, Azure, GCP, …), offer numerous data sources that can integrate seamlessly with Grafana, providing a comprehensive platform for real-time monitoring and analysis of cloud infrastructure. Specifically, this integration enables us to tap into metrics and logs generated by cloud services, providing insights into resource utilization, performance bottlenecks, and operational health. As such, we can quickly detect trends and resolve issues in the underlying cloud resources of each product. Moreover, the ability to customize and extend Grafana dashboards with data from multiple cloud providers also ensures a unified monitoring solution, simplifying the complexity of managing multi-cloud architectures.

Application

Whereas IoT devices and cloud resources provide the underlying infrastructure, it is the applications built atop these platforms that create tangible value for users. Application Performance Monitoring (APM) involves the continuous tracking of performance metrics to detect, diagnose, and address issues that could affect user experience, functionality, and overall system health. To that end, tools like Sentry enable us to closely monitor application response times, error rates, throughput, so that we can proactively identify and mitigate issues before they impact the user experience (as we have previously covered in this article).

Sentry also seamlessly integrates with Grafana as a data source, further enabling us to create custom dashboards that display its error and performance data in an intuitive, easily digestible format to quickly provide insights into the application’s performance, stability and overall user satisfaction.

Closing statement

In conclusion, the integration of Grafana with diverse data sources, from IoT sensors and cloud services to sophisticated application performance monitoring tools like Sentry, has enabled us to transform overwhelming data streams into actionable insights, enabling a proactive approach to infrastructure management, application performance and, ultimately, customer satisfaction. Our journey so far through monitoring IoT deployments, cloud infrastructure, and application performance showcases the versatility and potential of Grafana to adapt to various domains, thus making it an essential tool for enhancing operations and facilitating data-driven decisions.

Interested to hear more about our approach? Never hesitate to reach out at hello@panenco.com.

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Egwin Avau
Founding CEO
Koen Verschooten
Operations manager

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