A Comprehensive Guide to Connect GCP BigQuery with Grafana

Abhishek Pratap Singh 12 May, 2023 • 6 min read

Introduction

Do you feel like you’re drowning in data? Tools for data analysis and visualisation are crucial for contemporary decision-making. They assist us in understanding complex data and locating crucial insights. The graph is shown here. This open-source platform offers the best processing, analysis, and alerting capabilities for handling big data sets.Businesses may obtain a complete solution for data visualisation and analysis by combining GCP’s BigQuery with Grafana.

You will see how GCP BigQuery and Grafana can benefit you if you wish to increase your data analysis skills. Data visualisation and analysis are no longer only for math nerds! It’s crucial for us to analyse and present data in unique, attention-grabbing ways that draw in our audience.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to install Grafana and use it for data visualization, along with connecting it efficiently to GCP BigQuery.
  • Acknowledge potential limitations of using GCP BigQuery with Grafana and understand how to overcome them through real-world use cases.
  • Explore alternative tools for data visualization and analysis beyond GCP BigQuery and Grafana.
  • Develop your data analysis skills to impress your supervisors and excel in your tasks.

This article was published as a part of the Data Science Blogathon.

What is Grafana?

Grafana! Lets you create the most amazing interactive dashboards and charts with ease, just like Power BI and Data Studio. Grafana can connect with different data sources(from databases to cloud-based services). So that you can bring all your data at one place and get more details insight into data. Its alerting features make it different from other platforms.

Grafana motivates and gives free hand to users to create interactive dashboards, charts, and graphs. So what are you waiting for? Give your data the star treatment it deserves with Grafana.

GCP Bigquery with Grafana

Establishing the Connection Between GCP BigQuery and Grafana 

If you want to improve your ability to analyze and visualize data. You can establish a link between GCP BigQuery and Grafana. We’ll see the simple steps that involve downloading and installing Grafana and the BigQuery plugin. Configure the plugin by entering details, like your GCP project ID, key file location. Now, create the data sources in Grafana that will connect your BigQuery data. With this connection, you’ll be able to generate real-time queries and visualize BigQuery data in Grafana. 

  1. First we need to Visit the Grafana website (https://grafana.com/grafana/download) to download the suitable package for our operating system.
  2. Once verify that you’ve selected the package according to your operating system.
  3. Once installation is complete, start the Grafana server using the appropriate command. For example, on Linux OS, you can start the server using the command “sudo systemctl start grafana-server“. And for Windows, no need to run any command.
  4. Now open any browser on your computer and navigate to “http://localhost:3000”. This will bring you to the login page for Grafana. By default, both the username and password for Grafana are “admin”. After logging in, you can update the password. (also visit)
GCP Bigquery with Grafana

Benefits of Using GCP BigQuery with Grafana

GCP BigQuery and Grafana are two powerful tools that can provide many benefits when used together. 

  • Unmatched Speed and Scalability: GCP BigQuery’s lightning-fast query processing and unlimited scalability pair perfectly with Grafana’s powerful visualizations.
  • Easy Installation and Integration: Integrating Grafana with GCP BigQuery is a breeze and stress-free!
  • Real-time Monitoring: Keep a close eye on your data with real-time monitoring and alerts – Grafana has you covered!
  • Customizable Dashboards: Create visually impressive and highly customizable dashboards that perfectly fit your unique data analysis needs.
  • Collaboration Made Easy: In-built collaboration, makes it easier to bring your team together and visualize your data in real time.
  • GCP BigQuery with Grafana has the advantage of being able to analyze large amounts of data in real time. BigQuery is a tool designed to handle large datasets, up to a petabyte-scale. If you are performing complex operations on BigQuery and want to visualize real-time data than BigQuery with Grafana will be a great option.

With the help of Grafana, creating visual representations of data, like dashboards and charts, is simple. These visuals can be used to showcase trends and insights. The example given is for a retail company, which could use BigQuery and Grafana to analyze customer data in real-time. This will also help you to optimize their marketing campaigns based on the insights gained.  

WITH 
  -- Subquery to extract relevant information from table A
  table_a_extracted AS (
    SELECT
      id,
      REGEXP_EXTRACT(description, r'foo ([a-zA-Z0-9]+) bar') AS extracted_field
    FROM
      table_a
    WHERE
      description LIKE '%foo%'
  ),
  
  -- Subquery to extract relevant information from table B
  table_b_extracted AS (
    SELECT
      id,
      REGEXP_EXTRACT(description, r'baz ([a-zA-Z0-9]+) qux') AS extracted_field
    FROM
      table_b
    WHERE
      description LIKE '%baz%'
  ),
  
  -- Join the extracted data from table A and table B on their extracted field
  joined_tables AS (
    SELECT
      a.id AS table_a_id,
      b.id AS table_b_id
    FROM
      table_a_extracted a
    JOIN
      table_b_extracted b
    ON
      a.extracted_field = b.extracted_field
  )
  
-- Final query to get desired output
SELECT
  a.*,
  b.*
FROM
  joined_tables j
JOIN
  table_a a
ON
  j.table_a_id = a.id
JOIN
  table_b b
ON
  j.table_b_id = b.id

Limitations and Challenges 

Users may face some limitations and challenges while using GCP BigQuery with Grafana:

  1. Cost: One of the biggest challenges of using GCP BigQuery with Grafana is the cost. BigQuery pricing can quickly add up, especially when dealing with large amounts of data or frequent queries. Additionally, Grafana can add to the cost with its premium features and plugins.
  2. Complexity: Setting up a connection between GCP BigQuery and Grafana can be complex and it requires a certain level of technical knowledge. For those who are not familiar with the Grafana tool, it’ll be tough to manage.
  3. Data Security: Big companies that store and analyze massive amounts of data in the cloud have valid concerns about data security. It’s critical to protect against unauthorized access, hacking, and data breaches. Users must ensure that their data is safe. With appropriate access controls in place for added safety.
  4. Limited Data Source Support: Another potential con of GCP BigQuery is limited data source support, which could be a concern for some users. While Grafana has a lot of plugins available, exploring alternative options may be necessary. It’s important to find a tool that meets your specific data analysis requirements.

Use Cases and Examples of GCP BigQuery with Grafana

  1. Retail businesses can analyze customer data in real-time using BigQuery and Grafana to manage marketing campaigns effectively.
  2. Healthcare institutions can track patient data and identify possible health risks in real-time.
  3. Transportation companies can scrutinize data from their vehicles in real-time to optimize routes, reduce fuel costs and improve overall safety.
  4. Financial institutions can spot possible fraudulent activity by analyzing transaction data.
  5. Educational institutions can identify areas where students need extra preparation by analyzing student performance data using BigQuery and Grafana.

Alternatives for Data Visualization and Analysis

There are many alternatives of Grafana for data visualization and analysis. Few popular alternatives that are commonly used in the industry are mentioned below:

  • Apache Beam: An open-source unified programming model to define, and execute data processing pipelines, including ETL, and batch. Apache Beam is an open-source unified programming model developed by Google.
  • Looker: It is an online tool for converting data into customizable informative reports and dashboards introduced by Google.
  • Tableau: The acquisition of Tableau by CRM software giant Salesforce.
  • Microsoft Power BI: is a business analytics service that provides interactive visualizations and business capabilities with a simple UI. This helps the end users to create their own reports and dashboards. Power BI is an interactive data visualization software product developed by Microsoft.
  • QlikView: A business intelligence tool that provides interactive and real-time dashboards, reports, and visualizations. It helps companies to gain actionable insights and make better decisions.

Conclusion

We’ve seen how both the tools are a powerful combination for data visualization and analysis. It has numerous benefits such as real-time data analysis, flexible data access, and cost savings. We encountered certain restrictions while employing these tools, we also investigated other options for data analysis and visualization. It is clear that both are leading the way in data analysis and visualization. As we progress, we can only anticipate the emergence of novel advancements and discoveries in this exhilarating domain.

Some of the Key Takeaways are listed below:

  • Both are powerful tools for real-time data analysis and visualization. Because of its impressive features to help businesses achieve their data analysis goals.
  • GCP BigQuery shines in how it manages and stores data from many sources. For example, web applications and IoT devices.
  • Grafana is an automation powerhouse, making it the perfect solution for businesses who are seeking cost-effective ways to streamline their operations. It provides real-time alerts and quickly error identification for error-free monitoring, helping businesses be more efficient and less wasteful. It’s an invaluable asset for many companies.

Related Articles

I have published a review research paper on Grafana, if you wish to know more about it, click here. And if you are stuck in the middle, connect with me on LinkedIn.

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