Amazon super powers Web services with data analytics

Amazon.com logos are displayed on computer screens in Washington.
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Amazon Web Services is launching its most aggressive cloud data analytics software tool to date. The company unveiled "QuickSight," on stage Wednesday at AWS re:Invent, the company's annual convention in Las Vegas.

The move further emphasizes how Amazon sees cloud computing as crucial to its future. QuickSight is designed to make data analytics available and understandable to any employee making business decisions, no matter how technically advanced their skill level.

By crunching data in the cloud, Amazon says it can offer more advanced, less expensive tools that will enable AWS customers to leverage insights from data analytics across their organizations.

"More and more companies want to allow their less-technical employees to also get insights from that data and their choices today in a lot of the older-guard business intelligence services are ones that are very expensive, very proprietary and very hard to use," said Andy Jassy, senior vice president of Amazon Web Services.

"As customers are storing more and more of their data in data stores in AWS, what they've really asked us to do is to make it easy to have a business intelligence capability that integrates with those data stores and also allows them to move more quickly and have their less-technical users get insights from that data," said Jassy.

Typical of Amazon, the service will be priced aggressively — QuickSight will start at $9.00 per user, per month which Jassy said is about a tenth of the cost of the traditional business intelligence services. The new tool integrates with AWS' data services, so organizations can quickly scale to hundreds of thousands of employees to crunch data, run search queries and create data visualizations, fast.

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"We built what we think is a pretty innovative and revolutionary — Superfast, Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine which we call SPICE — that will make people's queries go much more quickly," said Jassy. "There's visualization for customers. It integrates with all our stores."

When customers log in, QuickSight automatically locates data stored in Amazon's cloud and can hand-select data sets to deliver insights in just a few minutes. QuickSight formats the data and moves it to SPICE to automatically create a data visualization.

For customers like Intuit, whose products are highly data-driven, QuickSight could be significant. "We think this service is going to challenge the status quo," Troy Otillio, Intuit director, public cloud, said in a press release. "It appears to be intuitive to our business users, particularly those in marketing who need an easy-to-use tool with superfast performance. Plus, the ability to scale to very large data sets and many thousands of users with push-button ease is attractive to us."

Customers can also use QuickSight to enhance existing business intelligence tools from AWS partners including Domo, Qlik, Tableau and TIBCO. Although the service could be seen as hacking into those existing data analytics services, Jassy says there is room for multiple successful players in this market.

"There are lots and lots of customers who are having success with business intelligence tools, particularly ones that have been launched over the last couple years, who want to still use those business intelligence services but are also interested in having their queries happen even faster and that's where we're going to make SPICE available to our business intelligence tool providers. They will have their customers use the same tools they're used to using, but their queries will be able to happen even faster."

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TIBCO and Tableau executives are on board, at least for now:

"The launch of Amazon QuickSight with the SPICE engine gives us an opportunity to reach even more customers. We look forward to expanding on our existing relationship and enabling customers to deliver fast insights across even more AWS data sources," Karl Van den Bergh, vice president of product and cloud at TIBCO Analytics, said in a press release.

"Having a fast-performance, in-memory engine that works well with Tableau's visual analytics will allow our customers to see and understand their data both quickly and efficiently," Dan Jewett, vice president of product management at Tableau, said in a press release.

Thursday's keynote will be delivered by Amazon's chief technology officer, Werner Vogels, who will be joined by customers and partners including executives from BMW and Intel.

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the correct price of QuickSight.