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AWS unveils new features for smarter data-crunching

A trio of new Amazon Web Services enhancements (AWS) were announced at reInvent this week. They will make it easier for customers process, organize, and make sense their data assets across AWS.
These features are all available in preview and are part of the AWS Glue products, Amazon QuickSight, and Amazon Redshift products. They are designed to “meaningfully alter the speed and ease with which customers can extract value from their data at all scales,” Rahul Pathak (AWS vice president of Analytics), stated in a Tuesday announcement.
AWS Glue Elastic Views, which is a preview sign-up, is an upcoming feature in the AWS Glue product. It’s a serverless extract transform and load (ETL). AWS Glue is used by organizations to prepare their data for machine-learning and analytics tasks.
AWS Glue Elastic Views allows users to create materialized views from data from multiple data storages, even those that are not in their data lakes. It copies and combines data from selected data sources of a customer and replicates it within a target database. AWS Glue Elastic Views updates the materialized view inside the target database as changes are made to the original sources.
AWS also states that “[i]f a change is made to the data model in any of the source databases Elastic Views proactively alerts developers so they can update the materialized view to reflect the change.”
Amazon QuickSight Q (sign up here) is also available in preview. This search bar-type feature is part of the Amazon QuickSight business Intelligence service. Amazon QuickSight Q uses machine learning to allow users to query the data in their chosen data store using only natural language. It eliminates the need for organizations create predefined data models. According to AWS, Amazon QuickSightQ Q “automatically understands and links between business data.”
Amazon QuickSight Q is pre-trained in language and data from many industries, including sales/marketing, pharmaceuticals, and human resources. Amazon QuickSightQ Q returns query results in seconds. However, in cases where it cannot immediately retrieve an answer it will present a list of suggested queries it understands.
AQUA for Amazon Redshift is last. You can preview sign-up here. General availability is expected in January. AQUA stands for Advanced Query Accelerator. AQUA for Amazon Redshift, as its name suggests, works with Amazon Redshift’s cloud data warehouse to dramatically improve query performance — up to tenfold according to AWS.
AQUA for Amazon Redshift is described by AWS as a “distributed, hardware-accelerated cache.” It reduces the time data spends moving between storage and processing. Instead, AWS claims that AQUA for Amazon Redshift “brings computation to the storage layer.”
AWS stated that the AQUA cache scales and processes data in parallel across many servers. Each node is equipped with a hardware module that contains AWS-designed analytics processors. These processors dramatically accelerate data compression, encryption and data processing tasks such as scans, aggregates and filtering.