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Amazon QuickSight Looks To Disrupt BI Market

Amazon's QuickSight provides fast and easy-to-use analytics and visualizations that can draw on multiple data sources including AWS-based services and external platforms such as Salesforce.
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Amazon used its AWS re:Invent event in Las Vegas this week to unveil a new disruptively priced service for analyzing and visualizing business intelligence data.

Amazon QuickSight makes its debut to a crowded business intelligence market, but Amazon promises that the platform will provide a quick and inexpensive route for organizations to get value out of their business data through analytics and visualization.

"If you think about the number of people inside of your companies that are really able to do analytics, it's typically a relatively small amount. It's usually the more technical people who can get at these analytics services," said Andy Jassy, AWS senior vice president, in his address at re:Invent this week. But the business users want access to that information, too.

"The business intelligence tools of the old guard in the days of yesteryear, they are hard to use," Jassy said. They're expensive and complicated, and they often require a three-year commitment, with maintenance costs on top of that.

He promised that QuickSight could give users their first visualization within 60 seconds at a price that is one-tenth of the cost of traditional BI tools. It's available in preview mode now, with a full launch slated for 2016.

The visualization speed is powered by AWS's "Super-fast, Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine" or SPICE.

The QuickSight platform is designed to inspect a host of data sources quickly and identify the best visualizations based on the types of data available. There's no surprise that it has built-in support for AWS services, including Redshift, RDS, Amazon Aurora, EMR, DynamoDB, Kinesis, S3, and a host of other commonly used service such as MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and flat files.

Connectors enable access to data from third-party sources such as Salesforce.

The service comes in Quick Start and Enterprise editions, priced as monthly subscriptions. QuickStart is $9 per month per user, with 10GB of SPICE storage. Enterprise adds Active Directory integration, user access controls, and double the throughput of the standard edition for $18 per month per user.

"Such low subscription costs present a formidable challenge to BI vendors that charge an order of magnitude more -- and even to the similarly priced Microsoft PowerBI," said Boris Evelson, a Forrester analyst, in this blog post.

He said the new AWS platform is "inexpensive, highly scalable, and has the potential to disrupt the BI vendor landscape."

AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr provided an overview in a recent blog post explaining how he expects customers to be able to use the service.

[Check out more coverage from AWS re:Invent. Read Amazon Urges Proprietary Database Customers to Migrate.]

"After talking to many customers about their Business Intelligence (BI) needs, we believe that QuickSight will be able to handle many types of data-intensive workloads including ad targeting, customer segmentation, forecasting and planning, marketing and sales analytics, inventory and shipment tracking, IoT device stream management, and clickstream analysis," he wrote.

Among the features promised by AWS: auto-discovery of data sources for easy connections, and easy sharing of visualizations with colleagues. Amazon also promises that the service is highly scalable, being able to support hundreds of thousands of users and terabytes of data per organization.

Amazon also announced several other innovations around analytics this week at the event in Las Vegas.