Andy Jassy, AWS SVP

Stories are legion of impatient managers who won’t wait for IT to provide them with the business intelligence (BI) tools and services they need. They simply find their own way around IT.

But in a cloudy world, there may be no need for that, especially if you’re an Amazon AWS customer. In that case, IT teams should go find the only sunny spot left on the beach, set up a chaise and summon the waiter to bring a few Pina Coladas.

We’re living in the land of self-service BI.

Quick Visualizations

At least this is what Andy Jassy, Amazon’s senior vice president of web services, wants us to believe. Instead of focusing his pitch on developers at AWS’s developer conference re:Invent in Las Vegas this week, he geared part of his message toward business users.

Are we over the top with the analogy? That’s for you to decide. Here’s the skinny:

This morning, in front of a crowd of (mostly) developers, Amazon launched QuickSight for business intelligence. Jassy said it can help AWS users visualize their data in a minute, or less.

He seemed to be appealing specifically to users who keep their data in AWS’ S3, RedShift, DynamoDB,  and Kinesis, though a subsequent press release claimed, “QuickSight can access data from many different sources, both on-premises and in the cloud. There’s built-in support for Redshift, RDS, Amazon Aurora, EMR, DynamoDB, Kinesis, S3, MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and flat files. Connectors allow access to data stored in third-party sources such as Salesforce.”

All a business user needs to do, it seems, is to log in, point to a data source and begin visualizing their data. QuickSight leverages a new Amazon in-memory database named  SPICE  ( Super-Fast Parallel In-Memory Computation Engine).

QuickSight also makes viz sharing easy via email and embeddable live dashboards available in native mobile apps on iOS and Android as well as the web.

Analyst Reaction

“(QuickSight) isn’t yet another 'old guard' BI tool — but one that does a lot of the heavy lifting automatically. It needs no data import, no transformation of data, no brain cycles to pick how to visualize,” Constellation Research analyst Holger Mueller told CMSWire. “Self-sensing BI tools that automate the insight can only be built in the cloud from an ergonomics perspective.”

Gartner analyst Merv Adrian called QuickSight a “disruptive strike on enterprise BI players.”

More to the Story

Others have hinted that QuickSight might connect to other AWS agendas- such as Snowball, the storage appliance (yes, AWS now sells hardware too) it introduced today, and SPLICE which adds to its arsenal of databases.

“QuickSight is  a good move by AWS to generate and get more load,” said Mueller.

Buddies or Frenemies?

QuickSight already provides a simple SQL-like interface to enable BI tools from AWS Partners like Domo, Qlik, Tableau, and Tibco to access data stored in SPICE. The pitch there is that “customers can use the BI tools they are familiar with and get even faster performance at scale”.

In other words, SPICE + Tableau (or something like it) displaces QuickSight?

That seems to be the case.

“Amazon is a great partner of Tableau and that (is why) we’re able to connect SPICE (upon launch),” Ashley Jaschke, product manager at Tableau told CMSWire. “Organizations have data in many places and Tableau’s unique proposition is that we connect to any data - anywhere and anyone person can analyze it. Clearly Amazon recognizes that value proposition, which is why we are able to integrate with Amazon’s SPICE.”

Tableau may have its own game-changer to announce later this month at its conference.

What About Predictive Insights?

Mueller questions whether QuickSight has the muscle to handle predictive analytics, which are the real differentiators enterprises are looking for.

“What is missing is - better visualization - can't compete with the leading tools - and 'true' (predictive) analytics,” he said. But quickly added that for a v1 QuickSight looks to be “powerful”.

Loading the Cloud

At the end of the day it is all about data and data gravity, it seems. “The more data, the more insights ,and the more insights the more users and the more users the more load on your cloud, that gets it economies of scale and gets cheaper, and it all starts again,” said Mueller.

Let’s see what tomorrow will bring.