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Why AWS QuickSight’s Pay-Per-Session Model Will Add More Customers To Their Cloud

On 31 May 2018, Amazon announced bringing a new pay-per-session pricing for Amazon QuickSight, a fully-managed business intelligence application like Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft PowerBI. QuickSight by Amazon Web Services is not a new service — it makes business analytics available to organisations of all shapes and sizes, and gives them the ability to access data which is stored in Amazon Redshift data warehouse, Amazon Relational Database Service (RDS) relational databases, flat files in S3, and data stored on premises with MySQL, PostgreSQL, and SQL Server databases. What’s amazing about this new pricing structure is that AWS — a cloud leader known for machine learning applications and services like EC2, is looking for ways to get existing customers spending more money and locking them in for just a little bit more.


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Quicksight’s new pricing model definitely has the potential to bring in more customers. According to the Amazon, in order to allow customers to provide all of their users with interactive dashboards and reports, the Enterprise Edition of Amazon QuickSight now allows Reader access to dashboards on a pay-per-session basis. QuickSight users are now classified as Admins, Authors, or Readers, with distinct capabilities and prices:

  • Authors have access to the full power of QuickSight; they can establish database connections, upload new data, create ad hoc visualisations, and publish dashboards — all for $9 per month (standard edition) or $18 per month (enterprise edition)
  • Readers can view dashboards, slice and dice data using drill downs, filters and on-screen controls, and download data in .CSV format, all within the secure QuickSight environment. Readers pay $0.30 for 30 minutes of access, with a monthly maximum of $5 per reader

Attracting More Customers

  • The cloud provider is now offering a number of applications as a value addition to existing customers
  • The new pay-per-session model has also widened the cost gap between AWS QuickSight and other players like Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft Power BI
  • With companies investing heavily in AWS and storing lots of data, analytics is an important application that can get existing users to spend more
  • With the current GDPR laws kicking in, enterprises and startups who leaned heavily towards multi-cloud would now go for one vendor lock-in
  • Pegged as a game changer in terms of analytics access and information, AWS is quickly metamorphosing into an end-to-end platform for customers to invest in
  • Meanwhile, AWS is edging out competitors like Microsoft known for BI tools and Google Cloud, known more for its machine learning applications. With its end-to-end platform service, AWS is wooing customers to use its services rather than seek out other providers
  • Most organisations also prefer AWS from a security standpoint — according to a press note, a leading global mining group Rio Tinto was cited mentioning safety is paramount. “We want to empower everyone to make decisions with the best data available. Amazon QuickSight allows our analysts to create insightful dashboards quickly for our critical risk management programme, enabling us to move from static spreadsheets to interactive data,” said Anthony Deakin, chief advisor, Critical Risk Management at Rio Tinto.  
  • The move is also aimed at startups and smaller organisations with tens or hundreds of users who lack the scale to justify the large upfront costs of traditional BI licenses. And, while some solutions offer monthly or annual subscriptions, these still require customers to pay full price even for infrequent users, notes the official statement.

Last Word

While some users think it may not be the best-in-class tool, the pricing move has been heralded by the media as a great way to revive new business models and truly democratise data. AWS also seems to be toeing Tableau’s line that recently announced their new offerings, which are segmented as per user.

For example, Tableau also has the subscription offerings to make buying Tableau easier, from the individual analyst to deploying analytics at scale. “We want to remove limits on hardware or infrastructure to give our customers the most choice and flexibility in how to deploy Tableau,” says their press statement. “Our three new offerings – Creator, Explorer, and Viewer – help our customers empower more people with data,” it added. Tableau’s new offerings are available on-premises, in the public cloud (Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform), or via Tableau Online (their fully-managed SaaS offering), making it easy to start and scale.

At the moment, AWS QuickSight’s pricing sounds more suitable for enterprise market but gradually AWS will also corner the mid and small-sized players who can’t afford huge business intelligence license fees.

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Richa Bhatia
Richa Bhatia is a seasoned journalist with six-years experience in reportage and news coverage and has had stints at Times of India and The Indian Express. She is an avid reader, mum to a feisty two-year-old and loves writing about the next-gen technology that is shaping our world.

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