Amazon’s surprise entry into the BI and analytics market at an attractive price could disrupt current players with cloud ambitions. As Amazon QuickSight matures, it will likely be best suited for companies with most of their data in AWS.
On 7 October 2015, at its annual re:Invent conference, Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced plans to release Amazon QuickSight, a cloud-based, modern business intelligence (BI) service that integrates with AWS data services. Amazon is also making QuickSight’s underlying query engine, the Super-Fast Parallel In-Memory Computation Engine (SPICE), accessible to its partner ecosystem. QuickSight is currently in preview with general availability expected in the first half of 2016.
Amazon QuickSight offers self-service BI capabilities based on a columnar parallel query engine called SPICE that can also be accessed by BI partners such as Tableau, Qlik, TIBCO and Domo. Although the current preview functionality of the tool that was demonstrated at re:Invent is fairly basic, Gartner expects the core interactivity and exploration capabilities to evolve quickly before general availability, with some potentially differentiating placeholders, such as smart suggestions, on which to build. Smart suggestions leverage purpose-built algorithms to recommend other data and visualizations to explore.
As capabilities evolve, the low price point — starting at $9 (basic) to $18 (enterprise) per user per month with a one-year commitment (competitive with Microsoft Power BI, but substantially lower than other BI products) — could position Amazon as a more serious player in the $15.2 billion BI and analytics platform market. QuickSight offers built-in extraction, transformation and loading (ETL) capabilities that connect directly to AWS sources such as Redshift, RDS and S3, as well as Salesforce. Amazon plans to offer integration to a broader range of non-AWS sources in time for general availability (during 1H16) via JDBC/ODBC connection framework for relational database sources. Compared to more mature cloud-based products that offer a broader range of connectivity options, such as Microsoft Power BI, Birst, GoodData, Tableau Online and MicroStrategy, the AWS-centric approach will initially limit QuickSight’s market impact, as it will be primarily attractive to companies with most of their data in AWS.
QuickSight is a natural evolution for Amazon, which entered the database platform market in 2009 and advanced analytics (Amazon Machine Learning) in 2015. It appears poised to stack up against the similarly priced, but currently more capable, Microsoft Power BI, which is a linchpin of the competing Microsoft Azure information management cloud. Amazon has a history of disrupting markets, from booksellers to cloud infrastructure to analytical databases and storage, and could differentiate by leveraging its deep expertise in advanced analytics into QuickSight. This latest move will impact the overall BI landscape, and may accelerate the adoption of cloud BI — which currently constitutes only 7% of the total BI and analytics market — as the product matures.
CIOs and IT leaders:
Monitor the progress of QuickSight if you are looking for a new self-service BI capability and you have moved (or intend to move) most of your data into AWS data services.
As QuickSight capabilities mature, assess the price/value for new projects and new users compared to installed-base partner tools that integrate with SPICE for AWS data.
Consider SPICE as an analytics data store, given its openness, as the offering represents an opportunity to move to the cloud without disrupting your current development in partner products such as Tableau, Qlik, TIBCO and Domo.