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Amazon QuickSight: Unified Business Intelligence at Hyperscale

Beyond the ‘Dashboards are Dead’ Rhetoric: Part 7

Evolution

Like Microsoft and unlike Salesforce and Google, Amazon developed a home-grown BI tool. Quicksight was launched in 2016 to allow AWS users to quickly build visualizations, perform ad hoc analysis, and get business insights from their data. 

Since then, Quicksight has continued to expand its offering with more integration and features such as machine learning insights, Quicksight Q for NLQ, and more.

In 2021, Quicksight was spotted in Gartner MQ for the first time as the leading vendor in the niche quadrant. It stayed there another year, and in 2023, it was considered a challenger in the Analytics and BI market.

Technology and Architecture

Installation & applications

QuickSight provides a seamless SaaS experience, offering a web interface for user interaction, reflecting its commitment to accessibility and ease of use within the AWS ecosystem.

Querying Data

Users can directly query data from sources or leverage QuickSight’s SPICE (Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine), enhancing performance and scalability.

Structure, Entities & Relationships

When using SPICE, the data from its source is ingested into a dataset, where additional SQL manipulations can be applied. Moreover, one Dataset can be connected to another dataset to consume its transformed data (rather than use the needed logic multiple times). To prepare a visual representation of the data, a user creates an Analysis, a canvas of Visualizations that is not published publicly, a kind of draft of a dashboard. The latter is a final draft version, which can contain all or a subset of the Analysis’ Visualizations. In Quicksight, A dashboard is connected to only one Analysis, and all its visualizations can be related only to itself (or the associated dashboard). 

Dashboards Tabs

A Quicksight dashboard can be designed with multiple tabs called sheets to better organize information within the dashboard, where visuals related to specific subject areas or topics can be organized in separate sheets. Each sheet can be distinctly identified through its tab name, providing a comprehensive view of all insights related to a topic on a single dashboard.

Containers & Organizations

Quicksight is a multi-folder-oriented environment, where a folder, which also supports sub-folder structure, contains Analyses, Dashboards, and Datasets. These objects can be related between 0 to multiple folders all at once.   

Diagram

Focus and Strengths

Amazon QuickSight is strategically positioned as an integral BI&A solution within the AWS ecosystem, ensuring that users do not need external analytics solutions. Its integration with AWS data services, competitive pay-per-use pricing model, and serverless architecture underscores QuickSight’s appeal to a broad audience, leveraging AWS’s extensive cloud infrastructure. As the newest entrant among its competitors, QuickSight benefits from modern technological foundations, offering scalability and flexibility for complex analyses without additional infrastructure investments.

The Future

QuickSight’s trajectory, as depicted in the Gartner MQ, benefits significantly from AWS’s expansive customer base, native integration capabilities, and approachable cost structure. However, its vision seems to lack a distinct direction, particularly with the emergence of cloud-agnostic platforms like Snowflake and Databricks that appeal to AWS customers. 

The anticipation around Amazon Bedrock hints at potential innovations within QuickSight. Yet, I would like to see a more definitive strategy, especially one that addresses the needs of data scientists or fills existing market gaps, which would bolster its position further. QuickSight’s growth, closely tied to AWS’s success, suggests a path forward that may well hinge on broader AWS advancements and strategic initiatives.

Catch Up on the Other Blogs in This Series

  • Read my take on Tableau in part 2.

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