Get ready for AWS business intelligence (BI) - it's real and it packs a punch.
Today's BI market is like a perpetual motion machine -- an unstoppable engine that never seems to run out of steam. Forrester currently tracks more than 50 BI vendors, and not a month goes by without a software vendor or startup with tangential BI capabilities trying to take advantage of the craze for BI, analytics, and big data.
This month is no exception: Amazon crashed the party by announcing QuickSight, a new BI and analytics data management platform. 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. QuickSight is based on AWS' cloud infrastructure, so it shares AWS characteristics like elasticity, abstracted complexity, and a pay-per-use consumption model. Specifically, the new QuickSight platform provides:
- New ways to get terabytes of data into AWS
- Automatic enrichment of AWS metadata for more effective BI
- An in-memory accelerator (SPICE) to speed up big data analytics
- An industrial grade data analysis and visualization platform (QuickSight), including mobile clients
- Open APIs
But the best part is price. QuickSight comes in two flavors: the standard edition of QuickStart is $9 per month per user with 10 GB of SPICE storage. The enterprise edition adds features like Active Directory integration, user access controls and encryption at double the throughput of the standard edition for $18 per month per user. Users of both editions can add storage for $0.25 per GB per month. 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.
But, alas, QuickSight is not a panacea - no BI platform is. A highly effective BI platform has to balance two often contradictory requirements: ease of use and comprehensiveness. While many leading BI vendors come close to addressing this challenge, for every BI feature ease of use may come at the expense of advanced functionality or vice versa. BI pros who consider adding QuickSight to their existing arsenal of BI tools at this early stage of the game will have to deal with QuickSight's limitations and concerns:
- A lack of out-of-the-box connectors to popular enterprise applications
- Reliance on database models and schemas
- The lack of a report writer with pixel perfect report generation capabilities
- Unclear long-term total cost of ownership