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At its annual re:Invent user conference in Las Vegas today, public cloud market leader Amazon Web Services (AWS) announced the launch of Amazon Athena, a new tool for running queries on data that’s stored in AWS’ widely used S3 cloud storage service.

People can use the standard Structured Query Language (SQL) with the service and don’t need to worry about setting up the infrastructure for it.

AWS doesn’t believe Athema will overlap with the querying tools that are available through its EMR (Elastic Map Reduce) service and its Redshift data warehousing service, AWS chief executive Andy Jassy said during today’s keynote.

If anything, the service resembles BigQuery, the data querying service that’s available through Google’s public cloud. But in the past year or so Google has been repositioning BigQuery as a data warehousing service, which would put it on par with Redshift rather than let it continue to look distinctive.


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After Athena users query data, they’re able to visualize it using Amazon’s own QuickSight business intelligence (BI) service, or a different one, as long as they use AWS’ new Athena JDBC driver, AWS chief evangelist Jeff Barr wrote in a blog post.

The service is only available through two of AWS’ data center regions: US East (Northern Virginia) and US West (Oregon), Barr wrote. Athena costs $5 per TB of data that the service scans. Query results get stored in whichever S3 bucket you’d like, and that means additional charges for S3 use. More detail is here.

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