In 2006 UK Mathematician Clive Humby said “Data is the new oil. It’s valuable, but if unrefined it cannot really be used. It has to be changed into gas, plastic, chemicals, etc to create a valuable entity that drives profitable activity; so must data be broken down, analysed for it to have value”
Over the last decade or so that has proven to be extremely accurate, we have the ability to collect vast amounts of data, but without the ability to refine that data in some way it is essentially useless. Data analytics is how we refine the raw material that is data and turn it from an unusable commodity to an extremely valuable resource.
The effective use of analytics allows you to carefully and systematically analyse the figures that are pertinent to the operation of your company. Without good quality analytics, you are often best-guessing when making decisions that affect the day-to-day running of your workplace. No amount of intuition or pen-and-paper doodling can replace using intelligent software solutions to properly analyse information that has been gathered daily.
If you want to know what is working for your business, and you want to understand what the return on the investments your company is making really is, then you need to analyse your data effectively.
Information is power, security and profit, and Amazon Web Services provide a whole suite of useful analytics solutions for all different types of users from large multinational corporations down to sole traders and small businesses.
AWS Cloud Search for Data Analytics
If you don’t require a very extensive analytics solution but still require a way to sift through mountains of data to help you make important decisions, Amazon CloudSearch should be a key component of your AWS infrastructure.
On a very basic level, CloudSearch allows you to sift through your information in the AWS Cloud to find precisely what you are looking for.
CloudSearch is incredibly easy to set up with just a few clicks of the mouse and it boasts a tremendously large set of features for sorting through your data. You can search for either a single specific term or a combination of parameters.
It boasts a fully-featured rich text search allowing you to use naturalistic language when searching for specific pieces of data as well as a Boolean and faceted search to allow for all sorts of tracking combinations.
AWS Athena for Serverless SQL Queries
Querying information is of vital importance in analytics. Amazon Athena is the key to executing proper queries in order to find precisely what you are looking for.
AWS Athena is serverless, ensuring that you do not have to manage any complicated infrastructure. You simply make cloud-based queries using SQL. It is incredibly simple to use, all you need to do is supply Athena with your data in the Amazon S3 cloud storage service, define your schema using SQL and start querying.
Amazon boasts that the majority of results are delivered in a matter of seconds, and that anyone with even a basic knowledge of SQL can use Athena to traverse their cloud-based data to generate useful statistics.
Athena works together with AWS Glue, an ETL (extract, transform and load) service that allows you to quickly convert your raw harvested data for analytics purposes.
AWS Glue will also suggest schemas and data transformations that will make your analytics more productive, even going so far as to automatically generating any code needed for you to successfully execute your data conversions.
AWS Redshift for Large Scale Data Analysis
If you are serious about your Analytics then Amazon Redshift may be the right choice for you, especially if you are part of a larger organisation that handles extensive amounts of data. Redshift is designed specifically to handle large scale analytics on huge data sets.
Amazon suggests that their query performance is up to ten times faster than competitors’ services.
Redshift also boasts the ability to execute many different queries across petabytes of information in parallel, minimising your time spent waiting for results to appear and ensuring that useable information is delivered in short order.
Obviously, to use Redshift your database needs to be migrated to the cloud with Amazon. Fortunately, they offer a very quick database migration service that will seamlessly transfer your information to one of their own cloud-based storage services for use with Redshift. If the data you are looking to migrate to the cloud is truly massive then there are a number of options available to help you with that.
Live data analysis with AWS Kinesis
One of the more unique analytics tools offered by Amazon Web Services is Kinesis. It is a service that analyses real-time data streams to generate rapid insights, ensuring you can respond quickly to changing trends and new data.
Amazon Kinesis will not only analyse streaming application logs and website clicks but also audio and video. Analytics are generated in real-time due to incredibly low latencies.
Thanks to the cloud-based platform AWS is built upon, Kinesis can manage your streaming services from a variety of sources and you do not need to install any dedicated local infrastructure. It can handle information streaming from hundreds of thousands of different sources simultaneously.
What sources you use is entirely up to you, Kinesis can be pointed in the direction of a huge number of streaming systems such as Janet, PSN, HSCN, N3 and others, with full API audit logging and security so you can see who has been doing what on your managed streams. Kinesis is also certified as suitable for use with sensitive and high security streams, and all video and audio streams are secured between connected devices.
The crown jewel and public face of AWS Analytics is Amazon QuickSight.
It is a fully-featured business intelligence service that allows you to directly deliver the results of any analytics to your organisation. It can be accessed from anywhere, with web browsers on desktop or mobile devices, and interactive, easy-to-read dashboards contain any pertinent analytics results.
QuickSight is an ideal solution for any organisation if you require an easy way to share analytics with any number of people, and as with most Amazon Web Services there is no requirement for dedicated software, no on-premise infrastructure, no specific hardware and everything can be setup with ease.
Harvesting data is one thing but choosing a means to display it in an easily understandable format is another. Without the use of charts, dashboards, diagrams and tables no one will be able to decipher anything, let alone make any changes based on the analytics results.
QuickSight makes this displaying process incredibly easy, it can e-mail reports directly to people as well as displaying them on a dashboard for easy access. It can schedule insight deliveries to occur at regular intervals and it can also respond to unusual fluctuations in data ensuring that your response time to changes is rapid. Amazon QuickSight can be set up in less than an hour and it will slowly learn from your data over time to recommend appropriate graphs and charts.
AWS has long been the benchmark for cloud services, and the range of solutions available for managing, analysing, and presenting data in a way that helps the efficient running of the business is no exception.