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Roll up status from your Grafana dashboards to one big-picture view

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Grafana is an open source tool widely used by DevOps teams for dashboarding key metrics and data related to their applications and services.

However, as your usage of Grafana grows, you might find rolling up status from multiple applications or different DevOps teams challenging. And typically, your Grafana dashboards are too low-level to share with your manager or Executive team.

For that management audience, you’ll want to deliver high-level health rollup and status at a glance, as opposed to lower-level observability data.

Grafana dashboards for your services - this isn’t your boss’s dashboard… 👎
Health rollup dashboard in SquaredUp - this is your boss’s dashboard 👍

Enter the SquaredUp observability portal

SquaredUp’s observability portal models the relationships between your services and rolls up their health to a simple red/green dashboard that's suitable for an executive-level view.

Mapping out your dependencies in SquaredUp gives you powerful views of your entire organization

Using the power of this connected knowledge graph, there are a few ways you can aggregate and roll up data from Grafana inside SquaredUp:

Getting started

Creating an account and getting started with SquaredUp is simple. Just head over to app.squaredup.com to get started for free.

Once you’ve created and verified your account, you’ll be able to quickly plug into your Grafana instance and start dashboarding! Let’s walk through this process.

Step 1: Connect SquaredUp to Grafana

To connect SquaredUp to Grafana we simply use a Grafana API key with read-only (Viewer) access — this allows SquaredUp to read the dashboards, their health status and any alert rules.

Generating a Grafana API key

  1. Login to Grafana
  2. Browse to Settings → API keys
  3. Generate a new key with Role: Viewer, and note down the value

Configure the Grafana plugin

Next, we’ll setup the Grafana plugin within SquaredUp. This is as simple as pasting in the API key you noted down earlier.

  1. Login to SquaredUp
  2. Browse to Settings → Plugins → Add plugin
  3. Select ‘Grafana’ from our plugin gallery of 50+ plugins
  4. Follow the steps to configure the plugin
  5. Once the plugin is added, a new workspace will be created showing everything we’ve found from Grafana, e.g. your dashboards, alert rules and so on

Step 2: Create your workspaces

Now that you’ve connected to Grafana, you’ll want to start organizing your dashboards into what SquaredUp calls Workspaces. A workspace might represent a single application, service, team or platform — it’s up to you. In this example, we’re going to create a workspace for each microservice that makes up our application.

  1. Select < WORKSPACES from the main menu
  2. Create a new workspace (+), e.g. my-service and add a new dashboard
  3. Add some tiles to your dashboard showing the Grafana status
    • Dashboard Health
    • Alert Rules

Step 3: Enable monitoring

Now that you’ve created your dashboards, you’ll want to enable monitoring. Monitoring powers the health rollup between your dashboards and workspaces.

  1. Edit the dashboard you created in the previous step
  2. Enable monitoring for the Dashboard Health tile
  3. You’ll see the dashboard and workspace health change colour as rollup kicks into action

Step 4: Create your boss’s dashboard

Having created workspaces for each of your services, you can now create a top-level workspace to show the status for each service.

  1. Create a new Overview workspace
  2. Add workspace dependencies for your apps
  3. Boom. You’re done! 🎉

Step 5: Taking it further with KPIs

While rolling up the health state from your low-level Grafana dashboard might make your boss happy, we could take this even further using KPIs. In SquaredUp, KPIs can be published by each workspace, e.g. each individual surface, and then aggregated at the higher level.

For example, for each service we could publish a cost per service and then sum them up to provide a total cost. Or perhaps we'd like to publish a count of Alert rules that are failing. Let’s look at that:

  1. Via Settings → KPIs, create a new KPI called Alerts
  2. On each service dashboard, create a new tile showing a count of failing alert rules
  3. Publish this tile to our new Alerts KPI
  4. In our Overview workspace, create a new tile showing the Alerts KPI
  5. This tile now shows the count of Alert Rules that are failing for each service, and will automatically update as and when the Grafana alert rules change state!

Getting more out of SquaredUp

Getting that rollup running is a great start, but it’s just that… a start. Here are a few other things you could try:

Good luck, and happy dashboarding!