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AWS Unveils Data Analytics Service QuickSight, Other New Products

Amazon Web Services (AWS) Inc. on Wednesday announced a slew of new products and services, including QuickSight, its first foray into the cloud-based business intelligence (BI) arena.

The announcements were made by Andy Jassy, senior vice president of AWS, during the Day 1 keynote presentation of the AWS re:Invent conference, taking place this week in Las Vegas.

With over 1 million active users, AWS is a $7 billion business, according to Jassy, with an 81 percent year-over-year growth rate as of the second quarter. Collectively, its roster of database services make up a $1 billion business, with 127 percent year-over-year growth. The company is looking to expand its cloud footprint, with plans to add two more datacenter regions in the coming year in addition its current slate of 11, Jassy said.

Based on the product announcements Jassy made throughout the keynote, AWS is aiming to extend its business in other ways.

QuickSight: Cloud-Based BI
Jassy unveiled a new data analytics service called Amazon QuickSight, which is available as a preview starting on Wednesday. QuickSight lets users organize, visualize, interact with and share data stored across different AWS sources. The service aims to cut down the time and cost of using traditional on-premises BI solutions to generate reports. Jassy said users can create their first "visualization" in 60 seconds, and at one-tenth the cost of traditional BI tools.

It features pre-built data visualization templates, the ability to share and collaborate with other users, and native mobile apps for iOS and Android. QuickSight uses a "super-fast parallel in-memory computation engine," or SPICE, that partners can also leverage to boost their own BI offerings.

"Amazon QuickSight provides partners a simple SQL-like interface to query the data stored in SPICE so that customers can continue using their existing BI tools from AWS BI Partners while benefiting from the faster performance delivered by SPICE," the company said.

Firehose and Snowball: Faster Data Transfers to AWS
Next, Jassy announced two new data-transfer products, which are both now generally available. Amazon Kinesis Firehose lets organizations easily load streaming data into AWS with a single API. Currently, data can be transfered to Amazon S3 or Amazon Redshift, but Jassy said the service will eventually expand to other data stores.

The other product, AWS Snowball, gives organizations a literal briefcase to physically transfer large amounts of data to AWS, a process that could take days or months if done over the air. Snowball appliances are ruggedized storage containers that organizations can order through their AWS Management Console. The appliances, which start at 50TB, feature "tamper-proof" closures, impact-resistant materials, built-in cabling, and digital shipping labels to reduce the likelihood of shipping mistakes, Jassy said.

Database Tools
Jassy unveiled a trio of database services and improvements. First, the Amazon relational database service (RDS) now supports MariaDB as of Wednesday. This enables users to "deploy a MariaDB database with a few clicks in the AWS Management Console and Amazon RDS handles all of the administrative tasks involved in managing a database, including software installation, storage management, replication for high-availability, and back-ups for disaster recovery," the company said in a press release.

Second, the AWS Database Migration Service is now in preview. The service aims to enable organizations to migrate their databases to AWS with minimal downtime.

Third, the AWS Schema Conversion Tool is now generally available at no cost. The Schema Conversion Tool works in conjunction with the Database Migration Service and "ports database schemas and stored procedures from one database platform to another, so customers can move their applications from Oracle and SQL Server to Amazon Aurora, MySQL, MariaDB, and soon PostgreSQL," the company said.

Security Tools
Rounding out the day's announcements were a pair of security tools -- AWS Config Rules and Amazon Inspector. AWS Config Rules, which is now in preview, lets organizations check the security compliance of their various AWS resources based on rules.

"You can use existing rules from AWS and from partners, and you can also define your own custom rules. Rules can be targeted at specific resources (by id), specific types of resources, or at resources tagged in a particular way. Rules are run when those resources are created or changed, and can also be evaluated on a periodic basis (hourly, daily, and so forth)," explained AWS evangelist Jeff Barr in a blog post.

Amazon Inspector, also available as a preview, is an automated security-assessment service. It evaluates the security of network components, virtual machines, application configurations and other resources. It then provides organizations with a report on its findings, with the reports serving as a an audit trail.

About the Author

Gladys Rama is the senior site producer for Redmondmag.com, RCPmag.com and MCPmag.com.

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