AWS Unleashes Torrent of New Services, Plus Some Hardware

World's largest Web services provider gets into the data analytics business, embraces MariaDB and boxes up big data—all in one morning.

Amazon Web Services' river was a torrent of news Oct. 7, which was Day 2 of its re:Invent 2015 conference at the Sands Conference Center at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.

From the keynote stage, Senior Vice President of Web Services Andy Jassy and his crew laid out news item after news item for a full house of attendees. One of the announcements even involved storage hardware that's not a tablet PC.

In a span of about an hour, the Seattle-based Web services and consumer goods giant introduced the following:

--Amazon QuickSight, a cloud service that immediately makes Amazon a starting player in the business intelligence cloud service market. It enables line-of-business employees, regardless of their technical skill, to build visualizations, perform ad-hoc analysis, and obtain business insights from their data. A lot of companies are now doing this, but most of them don't have the trust and reliability factor that AWS owns.

--AWS Snowball (pictured), a 50TB data transport appliance about the size of a portable drink cooler that can securely transfer a lot of data per appliance of data into and out of AWS via Fedex at $200 per job.

--AWS Kinesis Firehose: It eventually had to happen; someone has actually named a product "Firehose." Kinesis Firehose is a fully managed service for loading streaming data into AWS. It became available Oct. 7 for Amazon S3 and Amazon Redshift; other AWS data stores are coming soon, Jassy said. Users now can store streaming data for up to seven days using the service's Amazon Kinesis Streams.

--AWS Database Migration Service: This fully managed service enables users to migrate their production Oracle, SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL databases to AWS with virtually no downtime, Jassy said. The accompanying AWS Schema Conversion Tool is designed to make it easy to switch database engines—a task never welcomed by DB admins in the past.

--Amazon RDS for MariaDB: The company announced that its relational database service, Amazon RDS. will support its sixth database engine, the popular MySQL-compatible open source database MariaDB. Amazon RDS already supports the MySQL, Oracle, SQL Server, InnoDB and PostgreSQL database engines. Amazon RDS for MySQL currently supports MySQL 5.1, 5.5 and 5.6 (Community Edition) with InnoDB as the default database storage engine. Amazon RDS for Oracle currently supports Oracle Database 11gR2 and 12c.

Maria DB, the latest creation of the team that built MySQL in the late '90s, is rapidly gaining a following among open source developers.

That's the top of the news; here are more details on each of these items.


QuickSight uses a new parallel, in-memory Calculation Engine called SPICE to perform advanced calculations and render visualizations in real or near-real time. Amazon QuickSight integrates automatically with AWS data services, enables organizations to scale to hundreds of thousands of users, and delivers fast and responsive query performance to them via SPICE's query engine, Jassy said.

Pricing for Amazon QuickSight starts at $9 per user, per month; AWS claims this is one-tenth the cost of traditional BI solutions. Go here for more information.

"Building BI solutions require teams of data engineers to spend months building complex data models before ever generating a report, and these solutions lack interactive data exploration and visualization," Jassy said. "This limits users to canned reports and pre-selected queries. On-premises BI tools also require companies to invest in complex and costly hardware and software, and then require them to invest in even more infrastructure to maintain fast query performance as database sizes grow. This cost and complexity makes it difficult for companies to make BI ubiquitous across their organizations.

"QuickSight is built to solve these problems by bringing the AWS cloud to BI."

Kinesis Firehose Streaming Data Service

No big data-moving service could be tagged with a more appropriate name. AWS Direct Connect already provides users with a fast dedicated connection to the AWS network; Kinesis Firehose is ideal for users in not so much in a hurry who need to transfer data in large batches, have data located in distributed locations, or require continuous loading of streaming data, Jassy said. With Kinesis Firehose, users now have two new ways to move large data sets and streaming data into the AWS Cloud.

"AWS is smart to leverage the huge interest in IoT and streamind data analytics," IDC analyst Al Hilwa told eWEEK. "They are clearly seeing a lot of growth in Kinesis and are beginning to create add-on services. I think they are riding a growth curve here."

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 15 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...