Many businesses are now shifting to cloud computing as the costs of Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) providers goes down. One of the most popular options available for cloud computing services is AWS - Amazon Web Services.
It provides businesses with accessible tools such as database storage, computing power, content delivery, and other functions that are important to the growth of your business.
One of the more popular databases used with AWS is Amazon Redshift.
What is Amazon Redshift?
Amazon Redshift is a petabyte-scale data warehouse service based in the cloud. This makes it very easy to set up a data warehouse, with many scaling options too.
We believe that the most important thing about using Amazon Redshift and AWS is that you have a complete understanding of the different BI and Reporting tools available for Amazon Redshift. This is why we provide truthful and transparent information because we want to enable and empower you to make the best decision for your business needs.
In this article, we're taking a deeper look at the top five BI and reporting tools available to help you gain a better understanding of the options available to you (and we’re going to share a great bonus option with you as well, hint: 🦊).
1. Microsoft Power BI
Power BI is owned by Microsoft and is a powerful tool that supports a large number of data sources, allowing companies the ability to centralize their data in one place. With a user-friendly interface and data visualization capabilities, it does work best if you're already embedded in the Microsoft ecosystem.
Power BI is attractive for smaller-scale companies with smaller teams as their costs start at $9.99 per user, per month. If you're a one-man show, you can access the desktop version for free. But if you're concerned with security and on-premise deployment, you'll see pricing jump to over $4,000 per month (We break down more on Power BI’s cost here).
Microsoft Power BI supports many data sources, including Amazon Redshift. They also provide frequent updates. However, that doesn't offset some of the issues users have mentioned such as the steep learning curved involved and the ability to only use on Windows Desktop environments.
Tableau is often one of the top choices considered by analysts when considering their BI tool needs. It provides powerful visual analytics and data drilling tools, available across all of its products.
Tableau provides live and in-memory data, with easy switching between extracted data and live connections. You're able to collaborate securely via the use of the Tableau Server and Tableau Online. Their user-interface is drag-and-drop, which makes using it extremely user-friendly. Tableau and Amazon Redshift are integrated out-of-the-box, meaning you can connect to your data warehouse with minimal effort.
On the downside, Tableau can feel overwhelming to use. A lot of features often go unnoticed and unused, due to the single interface setup, and trying to locate a particular function can be difficult. There is also a surprising lack of BI capabilities. Tableau lacks large-scale reporting, the building of data tables, and static layouts. But the major feature it lacks is the cleaning and prepping of data to be imported into Tableau Desktop. To achieve this, you need additional support.
3. Amazon Quicksight
Amazon Quicksight is an AWS business intelligence tool. It integrates seamlessly with Amazon Redshift, providing beautiful visuals and an interactive dashboard. It is iOS and web-browser friendly too.
Amazon Quicksight has many positives. It's easy to set up, with users stating that it takes less than an hour to be up and running and has a low learning curve. It will integrate with popular data sources, including Amazon Redshift, Amazon Athena, Amazon S3, Amazon Aurora, SQL servers, local Excel files, and more. It can also support information from other services like Salesforce and Tableau.
As great as it may seem, Amazon Quicksight is not without its faults. It has limited options for charts and graphs (although what they have are visually stunning) and is relatively new to the BI scene, meaning it is still under development with a lot of room to grow.
Mode is touted as being the best for data team collaboration and work, particularly if you don't need much in the way of self-service. Out of all the tools mentioned in this article, Mode is the only one that allows SQL Analysts and R/Python users to use the same tool and work side-by-side.
If your primary focus on the data team is productivity, Mode is your best option. With shared workspaces and dashboards, Mode fosters team collaboration with ease. This is perfect if you've got multiple people working on the same material. Mode integrates with Amazon Redshift with ease too allowing data teams to remove common bottlenecks in data integration, cleansing, or ETL processes that load data into Amazon Redshift.
One of the biggest drawbacks of Mode is that to use it well, you'll need to know SQL, Python, or R. In order for users to be able to explore from scratch, they will struggle unless reports are able to be developed right from the get-go.
5. Microsoft SQL Server Reporting Services (SRSS)
SRSS is a server-based reporting platform that is available for free with SQL Server 2012. SRSS service provides an interface into Microsoft Visual Studio which allows it to be connected to SQL databases and use SRSS tools and utilities to format SQL in many complex ways.
SSRS provides server-based reporting focused on delivering comprehensive reporting functions for a spectrum of data sources. It has beautiful visuals and is user-friendly.
One of its main drawbacks is that it's not cloud-based. It is an enterprise visualization tool that is based on old technology which can also make it hard to implement.
Out of all the options mentioned, SRSS is the least recommended and user-friendly BI tool.
One More Reporting Option for Amazon Redshift
We like to say we’ve saved the best for last, but of course, we’re biased.
But we’re also a little modest so we’re not going to name ourselves to be in the Top 5, we’ll leave that decision up to you.
Looking for powerful dashboards and reports for your data stored in Amazon Redshift, look no further than our software, DashboardFox.
Why DashboardFox over the others mentioned? Well, why many of the names above are power-houses in the BI industry, they all come with advantages and disadvantages. No BI software is best for everyone. Here are a few things we think makes DashboardFox stand out against the competition:
Ease of Use - DashboardFox was designed for business users. So while many of the options above require a developer-level skill to work with DAX scripting in Power BI, or SQL code directly in tools like Mode, SSRS, and Tableau, with DashboardFox you don’t have to be a SQL or database expert to do some powerful things. But when you do, that takes us to the next major benefit.
Customer Support - All the other companies mentioned are pretty large, and when it comes to technical support, you’re in the normal support queue experience that comes with big industry. Googling for answers from web sources, submitting tickets to a level 1 tech, going back and forth for resolutions, and possibly being told it’s a professional services thing that takes more cost. DashboardFox is a bootstrapped, small company, and you’re the big fish in our small pond. You’re talking to a technical expert and if we can’t get your answer right away, we’re scheduling a screen share with you so we can diagnose what is going on and fixing it as fast as possible. Plus when you have needs and ideas for new features, we bump them to the top of our roadmap.
Cost - Last but not least, the truth is that many BI products these days cost an arm and a leg. And in most cases, it requires an ongoing subscription just to keep the product working. With DashboardFox, we offer a simple, transparent pricing model, and most importantly, it’s a one-time fee. Pay once and you can use the software for life. It becomes our job to keep delivering great support and new features so that you want to take advantage of the optional yearly maintenance fee.
Contact Us To Talk About Your Amazon Redshift BI Needs
Schedule a live demo with one of our technical experts (not a high-pressure sales pitch) and see how DashboardFox can help you today.