17 Key Differences Between Kibana and Grafana

17 Key Differences Between Kibana and Grafana


Kibana and Grafana are both popular open-source visualization and data exploration tools that are often used for monitoring and analyzing time-series data. However, they have some key differences in terms of their use cases, data sources, features, and ease of use.

Primary use case

Kibana is primarily designed for use with the Elastic Stack (Elasticsearch, Logstash, and Beats). It is tailored for searching, analyzing, and visualizing data stored in Elasticsearch indices.

While Grafana is a more general-purpose visualization tool that supports a wide range of data sources, including Elasticsearch, Graphite, InfluxDB, Prometheus, and many others.

Data sources

Kibana is tightly integrated with Elasticsearch and is best suited for visualizing data stored in Elasticsearch indices.

Grafana supports a variety of data sources, making it more flexible for different types of data.

Visualization capabilities

Kibana offers a rich set of visualizations, including bar charts, pie charts, line charts, heatmaps, and more. It also provides specialized visualizations like Maps and Timelion for geospatial and time-series data.

Grafana also provides a wide range of visualization options, including various chart types, heatmaps, and histograms. It has built-in support for alerting and annotations, which makes it a popular choice for monitoring and alerting scenarios.

Query languages

Kibana uses the Elasticsearch Query DSL and Lucene query syntax to search and filter data.

Grafana supports different query languages depending on the data source being used. For instance, it supports PromQL for Prometheus and InfluxQL for InfluxDB.

Log analysis and management

Kibana excels in log analysis and management with features like the Discover tab for exploring data and the Logs UI for tailing and filtering logs.

Grafana introduced the Explore feature to allow users to analyze logs and metrics, but it might not be as robust as Kibana's log analysis capabilities.

Machine Learning and Anomaly Detection

Kibana offers built-in machine learning features when used with Elasticsearch's X-Pack, which includes anomaly detection and outlier detection.

Grafana does not have built-in machine learning capabilities, but it can visualize data from external sources that provide such features.

Ease of use and learning curve

Kibana has a steeper learning curve due to its tight integration with Elasticsearch and its specific query syntax.

Grafana is considered easier to set up and use, especially for users who are not familiar with Elasticsearch.

Community and ecosystem

Kibana is part of the Elastic Stack, which has a large and active community. There is extensive documentation, numerous plugins, and integrations available to extend its functionality.

Grafana also boasts a vibrant community and ecosystem, with plenty of plugins and integrations available for various data sources, panels, and applications. Grafana's community-driven approach encourages users to contribute and share their creations.


Kibana's alerting capabilities are available through the X-Pack extension, which includes features like threshold-based alerts, anomaly detection alerts, and webhook notifications. However, the alerting functionality in Kibana might not be as comprehensive as Grafana's.

Grafana has a robust built-in alerting system that allows users to set alerts based on various conditions and send notifications via multiple channels like email, Slack, PagerDuty, and more. Grafana's alerting is considered more flexible and powerful compared to Kibana's.


Kibana provides customizable dashboards with various visualization options. Users can create, share, and embed interactive dashboards, and even import/export them as JSON files.

Grafana also offers customizable and interactive dashboards, with a templating feature that allows users to create dynamic, reusable dashboards. Grafana dashboards can be imported/exported and shared via JSON files or Grafana.com.


Kibana's security features, such as role-based access control, authentication, and encryption, are available through the X-Pack extension (which is part of the commercial Elastic Stack offerings).

Grafana offers built-in security features like role-based access control, authentication (LDAP, OAuth, and others), and data source proxying. Grafana Enterprise, the commercial offering, provides additional security features and support.

Pricing and licensing

Kibana is open-source and free to use. However, advanced features like security, alerting, and machine learning are available in the commercial Elastic Stack subscription plans.

Grafana is also open-source and free to use, but there is a commercial offering called Grafana Enterprise that provides additional features, support, and plugins.

Installation and Deployment

Kibana is typically installed alongside Elasticsearch as part of the Elastic Stack. It can be deployed on-premises or on cloud platforms like AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud. Elastic also offers a managed Elasticsearch service called Elastic Cloud, which includes Kibana.

Grafana can be installed on various platforms, including on-premises, cloud, and containerized environments. Grafana Labs, the company behind Grafana, offers Grafana Cloud, a managed service that includes Grafana, Prometheus, and Graphite.


Kibana offers a plugin architecture that allows developers to create custom visualizations, applications, and other extensions. This enables users to tailor Kibana to their specific needs and use cases.

Grafana also has a plugin architecture, enabling users to extend its functionality by adding custom panels, data sources, and applications. The Grafana community has developed numerous plugins, which are available on the Grafana Plugins page.

Time-Series Database (TSDB) Integration

Kibana is not specifically designed for time-series data, but it does support visualizing time-series data stored in Elasticsearch. Elasticsearch, however, may not be the most efficient or cost-effective solution for storing and querying large volumes of time-series data.

Grafana has native support for several popular time-series databases like InfluxDB, Prometheus, and Graphite. This makes Grafana a more natural choice for visualizing and monitoring time-series data, especially in large-scale environments.

API Support

Kibana provides APIs for managing saved objects, spaces, and other features. Users can interact with the Kibana API to automate tasks, integrate with other applications, and perform custom actions.

Grafana offers a comprehensive API for managing users, organizations, dashboards, data sources, and other features. Grafana's API allows users to automate tasks, create custom integrations, and build tailored solutions.

Reporting and Snapshot Sharing

Kibana, through the X-Pack extension, offers reporting capabilities that allow users to generate and share PDF or CSV reports of their visualizations and dashboards. Users can also create and share dashboard snapshots.

Grafana supports generating and sharing dashboard snapshots, which are interactive and can be viewed by anyone with the link. Grafana Enterprise, the commercial offering, provides additional reporting features, such as generating and sharing PDF reports.

In conclusion, the choice between Kibana and Grafana largely depends on the specific requirements of your project, the data sources you are working with, and the features you prioritize. Kibana is the go-to choice for organizations using Elasticsearch and needing advanced log analysis capabilities, while Grafana is a more versatile and flexible option for those needing to work with multiple data sources and requiring powerful monitoring and alerting features.


Martin Dejnicki
Martin Dejnicki

Martin is a digital product innovator and pioneer who built and optimized his first website back in 1996 when he was 16 years old. Since then, he has helped many companies win in the digital space, including Walmart, IBM, Rogers, Canada Post, TMX Group and TD Securities. Recently, he worked with the Deploi team to build an elegant publishing platform for creative writers and a novel algorithmic trading platform.