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Discovering the Power of Amazon QuickSight for Business Intelligence Needs

November 01 2018

In order for any organization to fully understand their business operations, customer base or established processes, there is a need to be able to evaluate key data points to determine current state and use the information to make informed decisions on how the business needs to operate. Many solutions exist today that organizations leverage to obtain these types of business intelligence (BI) analytics.

Not all BI solutions are necessarily equal, however. Some solutions are complex and monolithic in nature and challenging to maintain or scale as business needs change. Other solutions are lightweight but don’t have the power or functionality necessary to process large volumes of data with rapid results.

In the medical industry, data is vital and key to making informed business decisions. One organization in the medical space already had a software solution deployed to AWS which housed a large volume of data about patients that their health clients relied on to make decisions. However, the company struggled with how they could effectively use their SAP business projects implementation in the Cloud and they requested that ClearScale, an AWS Premier Consulting Partner, provide some insight.

The Challenge

The client had deployed their legacy SAP BI solution to their AWS EC2 instance, but they were experiencing both high cost of ownership as well as latency in running their reporting suites. Since their license was up for renewal with SAP, the client felt they needed to find an alternative path to running reports.

After a thorough evaluation of their implementation and their needs, ClearScale determined that, beyond the high costs for licensing, running a legacy version of SAP BI was having a detrimental impact on report creation.

The root cause of this latency was the result of having SAP BI utilizing AWS Relational Database Service (RDS) directly which was, in turn, running queries directly against the production database server. Whenever reports needed to be run, the overall performance of both SAP and the website would suffer as the servers came under increased load. ClearScale realized that the solution needed to find an alternative method to query the data.

The Solution

With all of this in mind, the client wanted to try using Amazon QuickSight to see if it would resolve many of the problems they were experiencing. ClearScale agreed that the client should optimally use Amazon QuickSight, an AWS Service for Cloud-based Business Intelligence. With this service in place, the client would be able to perform ad-hoc query analysis, data visualizations, perform advanced analyses and make decisions quicker on desktop or mobile devices.

From a cost perspective, Amazon QuickSight is the first BI service in the market that offers pay-per-session pricing without upfront costs, annual commitments or charges for inactive users. From a user perspective the service is highly flexible at supporting up to 10,000 users without impacting performance. Amazon QuickSight also is highly flexible in terms of choosing a data source, such as AWS data sources like Redshift, RDS, Aurora, Athena S3 or EMR, or databases like SQL Server, MySQL, and PostgreSQL.

The real power behind Amazon QuickSight comes from the Super-fast, Parallel, In-Memory, Calculation Engine (SPICE). Having been built from the ground up specifically for AWS Cloud, SPICE uses columnar storage, in-memory technology utilizing the latest hardware innovations, machine code generation and data compressions. This allows complex interactive data queries on large datasets and get rapid response rates utilizing rapid replication from production data into a separate location for high availability without impacting actual production data, systems or services. This allows for numerous simultaneous, fast interactive analyses.

The Benefits

With the newly implemented solution, ClearScale was able to demonstrate to the client that Amazon QuickSight was much easier to manage, gave them a powerful ad-hoc querying tool due to the success of the SPICE engine with data visualizations that were highly interactive, support thousands of users, and reduce dependency of production database queries, all while saving thousands in licensing costs.

Instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars each year on license fees and other operational costs with their former BI tool, the client now spent around $500 a year on costs associated to per-use pricing. With the robust SPICE engine, the client can now run significant simultaneous queries without impacting production services or databases. Finally, since Amazon QuickSight is a managed service, there are no additional costs or resources expended by the client to maintain servers on their own.

Since 2011, ClearScale has specialized at identifying and deploying solutions for clients on AWS. Our subject matter expertise has allowed us to solve complex and challenging problems that our clients face running their operations.

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