Kibana vs Grafana vs Prometheus vs LogDNA

Learning objectives
  • Explore differences between Kibana, Grafana and Prometheus
  • Explore pros and cons of Kibana, Grafana, and Prometheus solutions
  • Learn the advantages of LogDNA

With growing reliance on information technology and integrated systems, the need for data analysis across enterprise IT environments is critical for troubleshooting, auditing, security, reporting, and operational insights. Visualization tools collect massive amounts of data from various logs and systems to provide analytics to staff who can make informed decisions based on a tool’s output. Without these tools, administrators and other IT staff face frustrations and difficulties proactively maintaining network appliances, that can lead to unforeseen downtime. Visualization tools and analytics help administrators remediate issues prior to them causing critical crashes. Kibana, Grafana, Prometheus and LogDNA are all solutions to help monitor and analyze enterprise network services.

Logging visualization tools, Kibana, Grafana, Prometheus, and LogDNA


What is Kibana?

Kibana is an open-source tool used to visualize Elasticsearch data. Elasticsearch is a high-performance search and analytics engine used to run queries on large databases with complex machine data such as geospatial and unstructured data. Because Elasticsearch is generally used in environments to replace large databases where traditional SQL queries are not efficient, Kibana visualization tools are typically found in environments where search performance is critical.

With Kibana, you have several reporting features to identify issues and monitor the health of the environment. The software dashboards are useful for visualizing large data sets between environments and filtering results based on a timeframe. 


Pros:

  • Integration with Elasticsearch means high-performance queries.
  • Does not require many customizations to work with out-of-the-box reports
  • Works well when the organization wants to query big data such as geographic locations and distances.

Cons: 

  • Limited to Elasticsearch, and changes in Elasticsearch versions after upgrading could create issues.


What is Grafana?

Grafana is a visualization tool used for monitoring and analysis. It’s core foundation for querying data is based on its Graphite metrics. Similar to Elasticsearch, Graphite is the data source used to ensure performance when querying big data. The difference between them is Graphite can query a wide range of data storage including Elasticsearch, so users are not limited to Elasticsearch data sources. This feature is essential in environments where the organization uses databases to store both structured and unstructured data and requires a solution that can support several log sources.

With Grafana, analysts and administrators have access to several graphing options including heatmaps, bar graphs, and line graphs. Monitoring options also allow administrators to send alerts should metrics meet a configured threshold.


Pros:

  • Broad compatibility with multiple data sources
  • Support for Elasticsearch and Prometheus
  • Report options are available without many customizations or configurations
  • An active developer community, so new features are added regularly

Cons:

  • Support for a wide range of data sources adds complexity to the setup
  • Limitations on selection of reporting types


What is Prometheus?

The primary focus for Prometheus is monitoring and assistance with diagnosis during an outage. One main difference between Prometheus and Grafana and Kibana is that Prometheus runs as its own standalone unit and does not require external storage. Because it does not require a lot of additional infrastructure, Prometheus does not need complex configurations, which reduces the cost to support the application.

An advantage of Prometheus is that it can be deployed alongside other solutions such as Grafana and Kibana. It displays basic metrics across multiple systems, and it maintains reliability since it does not rely on additional infrastructure. Because Prometheus is for monitoring, it should be deployed with additional visualization tools. This disadvantage makes Prometheus an added expense that might not be necessary if the organization’s monitoring solution already has visualization tools.


Pros:

  • Self-contained application for monitoring and alerts
  • Can run on-premise and can be used for analysis should cloud services fail
  • Integrates with Grafana and can execute alongside Kibana

Cons:

  • Primarily for monitoring and debugging, so analytical graphs are limited
  • Could be redundant unless a solution during cloud outages is necessary

What is LogDNA?

LogDNA has many of the advantages of the above solutions with fewer limitations. Using LogDNA, organizations can pull data from multiple log locations and data sources to monitor both on-premise and cloud services. With LogDNA, administrators get a full monitoring, analysis, and visualization tool with few complexities during setup and many visualization components out-of-the-box. 

Organizations aren’t limited to a specific data source, reporting type, or platform. LogDNA is best suited for enterprise-level analysis where multiple platforms and log sources must be aggregated. Using this solution, you can centralize log data from multiple sources, applications, and platforms and consolidate metrics and information into a single tool.

LogDNA provides best-in-class features for searching, filtering, alerts, graphs and real-time insights. This allows organizations to identify issues quickly and troubleshoot them before they cause downtime. LogDNA meets major compliance requirements including SOC 2 Type 2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, Privacy Shield, and CCPA which helps organizations stay compliant with several regulatory bodies.


Pros:

  • User-friendly UI and easy search.
  • Supports multiple data sources including cloud environments.
  • Provides advanced metrics like memory and CPU for Kubernetes clusters via the Kubernetes Enrichment feature.
  • Meets compliance requirements for several regulations including SOC 2 Type 2, PCI DSS, HIPAA, GDPR, Privacy Shield, and CCPA.

Cons:

  • LogDNA’s primary focus is to provide log aggregation and analysis for troubleshooting and debugging. 
  • Users may need to combine LogDNA with another monitoring tool for advanced monitoring use cases.


Which solution is best for the enterprise?

Every solution has its own pros and cons that we’ve highlighted here, but every organization should take the time to research the best one that fits their needs. While Grafana and Kibana are great for big data queries, Prometheus should be chosen in addition to other visualization tools. With LogDNA, organizations get many of the pros and very few cons for visualization, data analysis, and fast queries for all monitoring business requirements

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