At the first anniversary of Azure Managed Grafana general availability, we’re excited to announce the preview of the Essential SKU as well as numerous new functionalities and enhancements. These additions bring more choices and value to our users.
We’ve observed that many current users of Managed Grafana exclusively or primarily view data from Azure Monitor services, including the managed service for Prometheus. These users don’t require the full extensibility Grafana provides. We’re introducing a simplified Managed Grafana SKU called Essential that focuses on Azure Monitor dashboarding. Because it consumes less resources, the Essential SKU is more cost-effective than the Standard SKU for development and testing uses. You pay only for active usage based on the number of actual users you have in each calendar month.
You can have one Essential SKU workspace per Azure subscription. To create an Essential SKU workspace, choose “Essential” in the Pricing Plans during a new deployment. You may also upgrade an Essential SKU workspace to Standard at a later point, as your needs for Grafana functionality change over time.
Grafana Version 10
Users creating new deployments of Azure Managed Grafana Standard SKU can now choose Grafana version 10 for access to a wide range of features and enhancements including time region support and annotation filtering improvements. With this opt in model, you have the flexibility to use a newer Grafana version much earlier than when it becomes mandatory for all Managed Grafana instances.
Existing Managed Grafana workspaces running on Grafana version 9 can’t be upgraded in-place to version 10 yet. We’ll announce when it’s supported, once we’ve resolved all the migration issues.
Team Sync with Entra Groups
Grafana team sync is a Grafana Pro feature that lets you connect teams in Grafana to an external identity provider. You typically set up Grafana teams to manage permissions for accessing Grafana dashboards at a better scale. With regular Grafana teams however, you’ll have to configure and maintain their member lists as a separate task. Managed Grafana utilizes team sync to allow you to define Grafana teams as Entra (formerly, Azure Active Directory) groups. With such functionality, you can manage your groups and memberships centrally and with greater consistency.
Until very recently, Managed Grafana packaged and executed all plugins as a part of the Grafana software image that’s deployed to all workspace instances. That approach impacted both the image size and startup time as the number of plugins increases. With plugin management, Managed Grafana pre-installs a smaller set of plugins, and you can add optional plugins to your Grafana workspace after it’s created. Initially only plugins that have been reviewed by the Managed Grafana team are available for installation.
Application Insights Traces in Grafana
Starting with Grafana 10, Azure Monitor users can now accelerate their application performance triage and troubleshooting workflows by searching, filtering and viewing Application Insights traces natively in Grafana’s trace visualizations and Tracing in Explore.
Any application being monitored by Azure Monitor Application Insights stores its logs and traces in an Application Insights resource. Prior to Grafana 10, these application traces could only be queried and searched for as logs, and viewed in Grafana’s standard timeseries and table visualization panels.
Search for traces in Azure Monitor query wizard
In Grafana 10, users can now filter and isolate traces of interest with the new trace query wizard in Explore or dashboard panels.
After identifying an anomalous trace, users can choose to view trace details directly in Grafana using the split view in Explore or by opening a new tab. Click on the itemId field to view all the spans within the end-to-end trace.
View Trace details
The selected trace or span opens in Grafana’s dedicated trace viewer where you can use the Gantt chart view to understand the contribution of delays by individual microservices and dependencies. This is a fast and efficient approach to performing root cause of analysis to identify why a specific transaction was slow.
Start with new out-of-the-box dashboards
To help you get started working with App Insights traces in Grafana, there are now 5 new dashboards that are shipped with the Azure Monitor data source plugin and available for import from Dashboards | Grafana Labs. Each of these dashboards provides a curated experience to triage performance problems or failures and allows users to click on a single operationID to view the trace details.
User-Based Authentication for Azure Data Explorer (ADX)
Grafana normally uses a special identity (e.g., managed identity or app registration) as the access credential for a data source. The ADX plugin is the first data source plugin to support user-based authentication and to enable end-to-end permission control for the currently signed in user. Most ADX customers have already configured their clusters for user access. The user-based authentication for ADX allows those same settings to be applied to Grafana access to ADX. It not only simplifies the data source access configuration but also makes possible to apply policies (e.g., audit logging) based on who the user is.
It’s worth noting that user-based authentication doesn’t work with Grafana automation features, such as alerts or reporting. If you need these features, you’ll have to set up a separate ADX data source with a managed identity or app registration and use that with the features.
User Deduplication in Billing
One customer pain-point we’ve heard is that Managed Grafana charges for each active user in each workspace. If a user interacts with two workspaces, that user is billed twice. The Managed Grafana service are region based. There is no easy way for it to enumerate all workspaces belonging to a customer. It, however, can do this reliably at the Azure subscription level. Starting with this December’s billing cycle, Managed Grafana will charge each user once based on the first workspace in a subscription they sign into. A user can access any number of Standard SKU workspaces within the same subscription, and they will be counted as one active user for billing purposes.
Try Them Out Today
With these updates, along with private link and managed private endpoint that we released earlier this year, we hope that Azure Managed Grafana will better meet your visualization needs. Give them a try and leave us a comment to let us know what you think.