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AWS aims to disrupt BI space with launch of QuickSight

Could Amazon’s new business intelligence tool pose a significant threat to partners and ISVs that have carved out a niche is the space?

Amazon Web Services today officially launched its answer to cloud-based analytics, effectively putting third party ISVs and BI partners on notice.

The Amazon QuickSight platform has been available in preview since it was announced at re:Invent in Las Vegas last year. With AWS hording the bulk of public cloud data, it was only a matter of time before Amazon brought its own BI and visualisation tool to market.

QuickSight is powered by a ‘Super-fast, Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine’ or ‘SPICE’. AWS says that SPICE enables users to quickly perform calculations and quickly render visualisations.

“Amazon QuickSight makes business analytics much easier, more accessible, cost effective, and faster than ever before,” said Raju Gulabani, vice president, Database Services, Amazon Web Services. “Because so many companies store data in AWS, it’s very appealing to these customers that Amazon QuickSight can automatically discover their data in AWS, move it to SPICE, and return query results so quickly – all for one-tenth the cost of traditional BI solutions.”

Of course, AWS is late to the party on this one. As well as the many partners that have made a living by providing analytics solutions on top of public cloud platforms, there are a range of vendors that have carved out strong reputations in the space – Tableau and Microsoft Power BI, being two of the most prominent at the moment.

But AWS’ commanding lead in the cloud arena will automatically cause competitors to sit up and take notice.

“BI pros will need to pay close attention, because this new platform is inexpensive, highly scalable, and has the potential to disrupt the BI vendor landscape,” said Forrester analyst Boris Evelson, after the product was announced last year. “QuickSight is based on AWS’s cloud infrastructure, so it shares AWS characteristics like elasticity, abstracted complexity, and a pay-per-use consumption model.”

Of course, QuickSight’s biggest asset may also be its biggest downfall. Other platform providers have been quick to point out that QuickSight will, by its very nature, perform best when data is stored on AWS. In contrast, Microsoft has made a point of aggressively rolling out third-party plugins, enabling Power BI to connect to a wide variety of data sources and SaaS providers.

AWS is aware of this and has made a point of declaring QuickSight’s ability to play nice with other data sources and third-party platforms.

“Amazon QuickSight also connects to third-party data sources such as Microsoft Excel or Salesforce.com,” AWS said in a statement. “Amazon QuickSight formats the data and moves it to SPICE so it can be visualized in Amazon QuickSight, and customers can choose to keep the data in SPICE up-to-date as the data in the underlying sources change.”

While most ISVs and BI-focused AWS partners will not openly display concern about a new contender on the market, behind closed doors, this will be on the radars of most players in the cloud analytics game. 

The Standard Edition of Amazon QuickSight starts at $9 per user per month, includes 10 GB of SPICE capacity and is available across the EU and US. 

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