UPDATED 07:30 EDT / OCTOBER 24 2019


Grafana bags $24 million to advance its open-source ‘observability’ suite

Grafana Labs said today it has raised $24 million in new funding to advance its suite of open-source observability software platforms.

In addition to the Series A round, the company announced the appointment of three new executives, including a chief operating officer.

The New York-based company, whose legal name is Raintank Inc., is the lead developer of the Grafana and Loki open-source projects, which are used to log and analyze machine data. Observability is described as going beyond monitoring to include alerting, visualization, distributed systems tracing and log aggregation and analytics. In addition to developing and maintaining the open source projects, the company offers both enterprise and hosted cloud versions of its software, which also includes the Prometheus and Graphite monitoring tools.

Founded in 2014, Grafana is unlike most early-stage startups in that it is already operating on a breakeven basis. Executives said the cash infusion will be initially used to “invest in the open-source community,” although it’s also building out a sales and marketing organization.

“It’s about optimizing for developer happiness by creating valuable open-source software that solves problems,” said co-founder and Chief Executive Raj Dutt. The company’s short-term plans are “events, evangelism, getting the word out there,” he said. “This upsets some venture capitalists, but our No. 1 priority for 2020 is open-source adoption.”

The Grafana project was launched six years ago and has become the top software for time-series data analysis with more than a half-million installations, Dutt said. It addresses what he said is a messy procedure most organizations follow when troubleshooting alerts. “Monitoring typically starts with an alert, the administrators go to a dashboard, trace logs, maybe do a stack dump,” he said. “Data sprawl prevents teams from understanding what the problem is.”

Commercial products like those from Datadog Inc., Elasticsearch Global BV and Splunk Inc. provide similar functionality, but “all those vendors are database vendors” who add yet another data store to the process, Dutt said.

“We’re database neutral,” he said. “The only vendor who can help with this mess is one that does not add to it.” The company offers a database that’s compatible with those from market leaders, but there’s no requirement to use it.

Grafana Labs has quietly built a base of about 500 paying customers on initial funding of about $5 million. It employs 100 people in more than 20 countries. The funding round was led by Lightspeed Venture Partners with participation from Lead Edge Capital Management LLC.

The company also said it has appointed Douglas Hanna as COO. He was previously vice president of operations at Zendesk Inc. Dave Kranowitz, formerly of Turbonomic Inc. and Dynatrace LLC, is the new vice president of global sales and Ryan McKinley, the leading community contributor to Grafana, is now vice president of applications.

Image: Geralt/Pixabay

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