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AWS Analytics Chicago: Kick-off

April 11, 2023

Last week, WLS was honored to host the AWS Analytics Chicago Kick-off event. A few of our team members gave presentations to the Chicago cloud community on Athena, QuickSight, and IoT Core - we hope this blog serves as a recap of what you may have missed! 

AWS Analytics Chicago: Inaugural Kick-off

On September 15th, the AWS Analytics Chicago community gathered at our new office space in Fulton Market for presentations, pizza, community, and fun. AWS Analytics Chicago is a community of experts who use AWS Analytics services in a variety of ways both professionally and personally. To get more involved with the Chicago Analytics community, visit their website and LinkedIn page. As a sponsor, West Loop Strategy looks forward to contributing to the AWS Analytics Chicago community! In addition to hosting the event, our team delivered expert presentations on Athena, QuickSight, and IoT Core, which we will highlight in the rest of this blog. 

Athena: Querying Big Data Without Limits 

In his presentation on Athena, John Dombrowski (Principal Consultant) walked us through the benefits of using Athena. Athena is an AWS service that acts as a managed SQL Engine for AWS Simple Storage Service (S3) - allowing you to run SQL queries with PrestoDB technology without the need of on premise servers. With Athena users can create and query tables built on S3 data, which can come from a variety of sources including: CSV, JSON, Parquet, Unstructured Text, and more. Athena offers extensible functionality by allowing User Defined Functions (UDF) and Federated Queries with Lambdas, which allow you to connect Athena to other AWS services and external data sources. 

Athena is a low cost, low overhead analytics service that allows users to pay as they go with a very simple setup process. Athena can help you reduce ETL overhead, create automated reports, enhance BI dashboards, join disparate data sources, and analyze GBs+ of flat file data quickly. At West Loop Strategy, our team has expert level experience working with Athena to solve problems for our clients. How can we help you extract, transform, and load data? Contact us today for more information. 

QuickSight: Environment Monitoring

Peter Nolan (BI Developer) gave an excellent demo of a dashboard he has been working on, which leverages AWS services to create QuickSight visualizations on QuickSight user data. With this dashboard, Peter showed us a manager might leverage user data to grow their business. For example, a BI manager would want to know what their most trafficked dashboards were, which QuickSight errors were most common, and the efficiency of each member of their BI development team. Using AWS CloudTrail, Peter was able to extract data on real time QuickSight user events. CloudTrail captures all API calls for Amazon QuickSight as events. Actions taken by a user, role, or an AWS service are then recorded as events. Events include actions taken in the AWS Management Console, AWS Command Line Interface, and AWS SDKs and APIs.

From CloudTrail, Peter was able to dump JSON file data to S3 and begin parsing it out in Athena using SQL. Once the data was sufficiently parsed, Peter was able to connect Athena to QuickSight and begin creating visualizations. QuickSight is a Business Intelligence (BI) tool that allows you to tell a story with your data and has SPICE (Super-fast, Parallel, In-memory Calculation Engine) that can perform advanced calculations and serve data significantly faster than using a direct SQL query.

If you use QuickSight, this dashboard is for you! Contact us today to learn more about how to optimize your BI development using the QuickSight administrative dashboard. If West Loop Strategy can help you with any BI project, don’t hesitate to contact us!

IoT: How Data Animates Devices 

Henry Gantner (Software Engineer) discussed the technology that powers our connected devices like apple watches, smart homes, and Winnebegos! The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to physical devices connected over the internet in order to communicate, collect, and control data. Devices communicate by sending messages between devices and control centers using common protocols, collect by using the regular transfer of data between devices in order to make real time decisions, and control by effecting change in a split second to connected devices. Henry then explained how the components behind IoT architecture work together to capture data, send messages to devices, transmit data, store data, and allow end users to make decisions. 

After laying the groundwork for IoT concepts, Henry introduced AWS IoT Core - a AWS service that allows users to connect IoT devices to other AWS services. IoT Core allows users to connect control applications and devices, send commands from the control device to Device Gateway, publish current states to Device Shadow, update the device’s current state, last reported state, and desired future state, and sync the desired state with the device. 

The AWS IoT Core features allow users to easily connect devices and expand fleets, publish data in real time on a secure and authenticated connection, define complex, custom rules that create actions based on data, trigger ETL pipelines that utilize AWS Cloud resources like S3 and Lambda, display analytics, sync all devices, both online and off, and focus on growth.

Do you have an IoT project that could leverage AWS IoT Core? West Loop Strategy experts are equipped with the skills to help you maintain and improve your fleet of devices. Contact West Loop Strategy today to learn more!

Building Advanced Analytics Using Amazon QuickSight

We were also excited to learn from an AWS QuickSight representative, Saunak Chandra on how to build advanced QuickSight dashboards. During his presentation, Saunak used QuickSight Demo Central to give the AWS Analytics community a powerful demo on QuickSight, highlighting machine learning features. At West Loop Strategy, we are proud to be a recognized partner of AWS with products and services available on the AWS Marketplace and close ties to internal members of the AWS product team. 

We hope to see you at the next AWS Analytics Chicago meetup! 

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