What is Amazon QuickSight (AWS QuickSight)?

Business intelligence services help organizations to build visualizations, perform ad-hoc analysis and quickly get business insights from their data , anytime , on any device. Traditional Business intelligence solutions require a fleet of data engineers to spend months in building complex data models before generating meaningful reports; they usually lack interactive and Ad Hoc data exploration and visualizations. It also involves up front investment of costly hardware, software etc. Cloud based Business intelligence solutions bring scale and flexibility of cloud services and case be used pay as you use service.

Today we look more in detail about Amazon QuickSight, a business intelligence solution, its features and use cases, advantages and disadvantages and so on.   

Introduction to Amazon QuickSight (AWS QuickSight)

Amazon QuickSight is a very fast, easy to use, cloud-based business analytics service which makes it easy for organization employees to perform interactive and ad-hoc queries, visualizations, dashboards to derive meaningful  information from anywhere, any time and on any device. You can upload .CSV and excel files, connect to SaaS applications like Salesforce, access on premises databases like SQL, MySQL, and PostgreSQL, discover AWS data sources like Amazon Redshift, Amazon RDS, Amazon Aurora, Amazon Athena, and Amazon S3 seamlessly. Business analytics capabilities can be scaled to include hundreds to thousands of users, delivering fast and responsive query performance using robust in memory engine (SPICE).

Amazon QuickSight is built with ‘SPICE’ , a super-fast, parallel, memory calculation engine. It uses rich calculations to derive valuable insights from analysis without bothering about provisioning or managing underlying infrastructure. Data in SPICE persists until it is explicitly removed by the user. SPICE can automatically replicate data to provide high availability and enable QuickSight to scale from hundred to thousand and more users who all can simultaneously perform fast interactive analysis across a wide variety of AWS data sources.

Role of AWS QuickSight

AWS QuickStart has typically two roles as under:

  • QuickSight Reader – is a consumer of interactive dashboards. Readers can log in using organization preferred authentication method (QuickSight username/password, SAMPL portal or AD auth), view shared dashboards, filtering of data, drill down details or export of data in .CSV format using a web browser or mobile application. But Readers cannot allocate SPICE capacity. End users can be provisioned as Readers. Reader sessions are of 30 minutes duration and each session is charged at 0.30 dollar maximum to $5 per reader per month  
  • QuickSight Author – is a user who can connect to data sources (Within AWS or outside) , creation of visuals, and data analysis. Authors can create interactive dashboards using advanced QuickSight features such as parameters and calculated fields, and publish dashboards for Readers.

Benefits of Amazon QuickSight

  • SPICE in memory engine responds with blazing speed
  • No upfront costs for licenses and low cost of ownership (TCO)
  • No need for application installation for collaborative analysis
  • Variety of data can be combined in one analysis
  • Publishing and sharing analysis as dashboards
  • Dashboard has control features
  • Dashboard users can only see what you share so there is no need to manage granular database permissions

Additional Benefits of Advanced version

Advanced version users have additional benefits as under:

  • Make automatic reliable forecasts
  • Identify automatically outliners
  • Finding hidden trends
  • Act on key business drivers
  • Translation of data into easy-to-read narratives such as headlines on a dashboard
  • Federated users, single sign on with AWS identity and access management federation , SAML, OpenID connect, AWS directory service for Microsoft Active directory
  • AWS data access having granular database permissions feature
  • Row level security
  • Data encryption at Rest
  • AWS cloud and on premises data access in Amazon virtual Private cloud
  • Pay per session for users in reader – security role – readers are subscribers of dashboards who can view but can’t create them
  • Make QuickSight part of your websites and applications and deploy embedded console analytics and dashboard sessions
  • Multi-tenancy features for value added resellers of analytical services
  • Programmatically script dashboard templates which can be transferred to other AWS accounts
  • Ease of access management and organization with shared and personal folders for any analytical assets 
  • Larger data import quotas as enabled for SPICE data ingestion and data refresh frequency scheduling 

How to start using Amazon QuickSight (AWS QuickSight)

To start Amazon QuickSight, sign up for an AWS account, create an AWS identity and access management (IAM) administrator user and sign up 

If you don’t have AWS account sign up for an account

  • Follow online screen instructions to complete ID creation which may involve a phone verification call.

To create administrator user, follow below steps:

  • Sign in to IAM console as account owner by selecting Root user and enter AWS account email address and then enter password.
  • In navigation pane choose Users and then select Add user
  • For user name enter Administrator
  • Select the check box next to AWS Management console access. Select custom password enter new password 
  • Choose next : Permissions
  • Under set permissions choose Add user to group
  • Choose Create group
  • In create group box, enter group name as Administrator
  • Choose Filter policies and select AWS managed job function, in the policy list select the check box for Administrator access then choose create group
  • Now back in group list click refresh and choose Next : tags
  • Choose Next : Review to see list of group memberships to be added to new user and click on create user when ready to proceed

This way you can create more groups and users and give them access to AWS account resources. 

Subscribe AWS QuickSight 

Sign-in to AWS account and open QuickSight from AWS management console. (Free trial is for 30 days with 4 users). 

  • Choose Sign Up for QuickSight Under Analytics tab
  • Choose Standard or Enterprise 
  • If you choose standard select the method you want to connect either Use IAM federated identifies and QuickSight management users or use IAM federated entity only 
  • If you choose Enterprise select the method you want to connect select either of the options – Use Active directory, use IAM federated identifies and QuickSight managed users, Use IAM federated entities only
  • Enter a unique account name for QuickSight and an email address review choices and Finish 

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