AWS and Microsoft Trade Enterprise Big Data Volleys

Microsoft and Amazon Web Services Inc. (AWS), known for trading back-and-forth product and services announcements (along with rival Google), have kept at it on the Big Data front recently.

AWS yesterday announced several data initiatives, following similar moves by Microosft last week. Both companies used their respective user conferences to trade Big Data volleys.

AWS unveiled QuickSight, its first business intelligence (BI) cloud service, along with data transfer products and new database and security tools.

"QuickSight lets users organize, visualize, interact with and share data stored across different AWS sources," reported Gladys Rama from the re:Invent conference in Las Vegas for sister pub AWS Insider yesterday. "The service aims to cut down the time and cost of using traditional on-premises BI solutions to generate reports. [AWS exec Andy] Jassy said users can create their first 'visualization' in 60 seconds, and at one-tenth the cost of traditional BI tools."

The news comes barely a week after Microsoft's own AzureCon conference, during which it made some Big Data BI waves of its own, starting with a preview of the Azure SQL Data Warehouse.

"Laura Rubbelke, a principal software design engineer at Microsoft, said that Microsoft's Power BI solutions have 'a direct connection with Azure Data Warehouse' during a demo," reported Kurt Mackie at sister pub Redmond magazine. "It's possible to use it to tap services in the Cortana Analytics Suite. The Cortana Analytics Suite is a Big Data analytics solution that became generally available on Monday."

Microsoft is also readying a Big Data product called Azure Data Lake Store, complemented by a new Azure Data Lake Analytics service, based on Apache YARN, that introduces a brand-new language called U-SQL.

"Microsoft describes the Azure Data Lake Store as a single repository that lets users capture data of any size or format without requiring changes to the application as data scales," Redmond magazine's Jeffrey Schwartz reported. "Data can be securely stored and shared and can be processed and queried from HDFS-based applications and tools."

"Complementing Azure Data Lake Store, Microsoft announced its new Azure Data Lake Analytics, an Apache YARN-based service that's designed to dynamically scale to handle large big data workloads," Schwartz reported. "The new Azure Data Analytics service will be based on U-SQL, a language that will 'unify the benefits of SQL with the power of expressive code,' [Microsoft exec T.K. "Ranga"] Rengarajan said. 'U-SQL's scalable distributed query capability enables you to efficiently analyze data in the store and across SQL Servers in Azure, Azure SQL Database and Azure SQL Data Warehouse.'"

AWS, meanwhile, answered Microsoft with several other counterpunches beyond the new QuickSight BI service. It also offered up two new data-transfer products called Firehose and Snowball.

"Amazon Kinesis Firehose lets organizations easily load streaming data into AWS with a single API," Rama reported. "Currently, data can be transferred to Amazon S3 or Amazon Redshift, but Jassy said the service will eventually expand to other data stores.

"The other product, AWS Snowball, gives organizations a literal briefcase to physically transfer large amounts of data to AWS, a process that could take days or months if done over the air. Snowball appliances are ruggedized storage containers that organizations can order through their AWS Management Console. The appliances, which start at 50TB, feature 'tamper-proof' closures, impact-resistant materials, built-in cabling, and digital shipping labels to reduce the likelihood of shipping mistakes, Jassy said."

AWS also announced new support for MariaDB in its relational database service (RDS), along with a preview of the new AWS Database Migration Service and the general availability of the AWS Schema Conversion Tool, which works with the migration service to port "database schemas and stored procedures from one database platform to another, so customers can move their applications from Oracle and SQL Server to Amazon Aurora, MySQL, MariaDB, and soon PostgreSQL." Topping off yesterday's announcements were AWS Config Rules and Amazon Inspector security tools.

Reporter Gladys Rama provides more on yesterday's announcements and will be following up from the Las Vegas conference with additional articles at AWS Insider.

About the Author

David Ramel is the editor of Visual Studio Magazine.