First things first
With so many services now under its banner, it's easy to overlook the sneaky efficiency of the Amazon Web Services strategy. Sure, there are the high-profile services such as EC2, the next-big-thing ones such as Lambda and a growing portfolio of database options (check out more on its GA Neptune graph database in the Data & Analytics section below), but the cloud provider is also offering a a growing number of actual applications. I've written before about the cleverness of AWS offering such as its Connect call center automation service, and this week brought to my attention another potentially underrated offering: Amazon Quicksight.
Quicksight is a business intelligence application in the same vein of ones like Tableau, Qlik and Microsoft PowerBI, and the news this week is that AWS has changed the pricing model of Quicksight to a per-session billing model. While that approach may or may not prove revolutionary, Quicksight itself is a remarkably smart service for AWS to offer. Companies are already investing heavily in AWS and storing lots of data there, and analytics, at least of the type you'd do in something like Quicksight, is not a mission-critical application.
While many enterprise buyers and even some forward-thinking startups are looking into multi-cloud approaches at the infrastructure layer, there are fewer compelling arguments to be so prudent with analytics software. Many third-party applications already support Amazon S3 and its other services as data stores/sources, so moving to something new may not be such a burden, and laws like GDPR arguably incentivize companies to limit the number of vendors they use and stick to ones with strong security stances.
Of course, all of the usual caveats apply here, including that it's unlikely AWS Quicksight will ever compete on features or usability with best-in-breed products. And that Quicksight isn't a make-or-break service in a multi-multi-billion-dollar cloud provider market. But when you're looking for those little things that can get existing customers spending more money and locking them in just a little bit more, Quicksight definitely has potential.
Also, Microsoft obviously has its own cloud BI products and Google has some stuff in beta (although its services are currently free and it's unclear how they compare on features). But AWS seems the best so far at getting customers to invest whole hog on its platform, which is why Quicksight stands out so much. Microsoft is known for BI tools and Google is known for data science, but AWS is known for cloud computing and it wins when it can convince its customers to use its services rather than seeking out specialists.