Amazon QuickSight recently introduced four new features—embedded authoring, namespaces for multi-tenancy, custom user permissions, and account-level customizations—that, with existing dashboard embedding and API capabilities available in the Enterprise Edition, allow you to integrate advanced dashboarding and analytics capabilities within SaaS applications. Developers and independent software vendors (ISVs) who build these applications can now offer embedded, pre-configured (canned) dashboards to all end-users, while also providing sophisticated ad-hoc exploration and dashboard-building capabilities to power users.
In this post, we look at a use case for a fictional ISV and explore how QuickSight makes it easy to embed analytics into the app with no infrastructure to deploy or manage and scale to hundreds of thousands of users.
- Embedded authoring – You can embed the full dashboard-building experience within a portal or application, including the QuickSight home page, search, and data experiences. This allows ISVs to provide ad-hoc data exploration and authoring capabilities to an application’s power users, who might want to explore usage data, create specific views as dashboards, and share their creations with other users or groups in their organization. For the ISV, this means freedom from having to perform ad-hoc development for every customer request, while for customers, this empowers them to quickly and easily find insights that are relevant to them.
- Namespaces – With namespaces, you can logically group and isolate sets of users in a QuickSight account. Before using namespaces, all users in a QuickSight account resided in a single (default) namespace, and as a result could see each other (for example, when trying to share content). You can now provision authors and readers from an organization within a unique namespace so they can see each other but are isolated from all other users in the QuickSight account. Namespaces aren’t required for reader-only scenarios, but are important for providing secure multi-tenancy when using embedded authoring so that authors are restricted to sharing and collaborating with their coworkers only. All users provisioned with a QuickSight account by default (via UI or SSO) exist in the default namespace; non-default namespaces are currently only accessible for federated single sign-on users.
- Custom user permissions – This feature allows you to customize author permissions—for example, you can remove the ability to create a data source or dataset. This allows admins to provide a restricted set of capabilities to embedded or regular authors, and creates a curated experience for authors by sharing only specific datasets or data sources that are required for the use case.
- QuickSight customizations – You can turn off the sample analyses and video content in QuickSight and also specify a default theme at a namespace level.
Multi-tenant embedded analytics architecture
The following diagram illustrates how authors reside within namespaces and how they tie into the overall AWS account.
Without namespaces, developers could set up their own embedded dashboards for hundreds of thousands users with QuickSight. For example, see the following dashboard for our fictional company, Oktank Analytica.
With namespaces in place, you can extend this to provide ad-hoc authoring capabilities using curated datasets specific to each customer, created and shared by the developer or ISV. See the following screenshot.
With this end-result as a target, let’s explore how Oktank Analytica implements such multi-tenant analytics—with both canned dashboards and ad-hoc analysis and dashboard-building capabilities—in its existing SaaS application. For simplicity, we assume that Oktank has two customers, with two authors and two readers within each customer. They also have a development team that uses the default namespace to develop content.
If Oktank only provided embedded dashboards for all users, we could simplify this implementation using just a single namespace for all—dashboards are view-only, so the readers provisioned for each of the customers can’t discover or view each other. This could simply use the QuickSight row-level security feature to make sure appropriate data is displayed to the right users or groups. For more information, see Using Row-level Security (RLS) to Restrict Access to a Dataset.
The following table summarizes Oktank’s namespaces.
|Default Namespace||FooCompany Namespace
|Notes||Development team||Foo Company users||Foo2 Company users|
When provisioning these users, Oktank uses the default namespace (created as part of QuickSight account setup) for the development team, and provisions admin, authors, and readers as they do normally. They set up customer users after creating the namespaces. For this post, we walk you through the example of Foo Company.
Users in the default namespace are regular QuickSight authors and admins because these are users from Oktank Analytica. However, Oktank wants to restrict the users from FooCompany and Foo2 Company from discovering any assets within the account and limit them to the specific datasets shared with them.
Creating a namespace
To implement this solution, we first create the namespace. See the following code:
This operation is asynchronous, so we wait and verify that namespace creation finished:
Now that the namespace is created, we can customize QuickSight to make sure it works well in the multi-tenant setup.
First, we turn off the instructional videos and samples in QuickSight, because Oktank has its own product welcome videos and wants to include QuickSight onboarding in those. QuickSight admins can access this on the Account customization page.
Customizing user permissions
Next, we use custom user permissions to restrict users from creating new data sources or datasets. This allows Oktank to create users that can explore data and create dashboards but not connect to data sources outside of what is shared in the application.
To do this, create a custom user permissions policy. On the Manage users page, choose Manage permissions.
In the policy, restrict the user to only using datasets that Oktank admins share. You can expect more features in the future than what is currently available in this screenshot.
Creating a user account and group
With the custom user permissions policy available, we can create the user account for Jill, who is an author in Foo Company. See the following code:
For convenience, we can also create groups for authors and readers within FooCompanyNamespace.
Oktank can now use this group to share assets with the users. For example, if Oktank wants to share a dataset with these users, they can use the following code:
aws quicksight update-data-set-permissions --cli-input-json file://datapermissions.json
datapermissions.json file contains the following:
Similarly, Oktank can share a pre-built dashboard with this group:
aws quicksight update-dashboard-permissions --cli-input-json file://dbpermissions.json
dbpermissions.json file contains the following:
If needed, you can also share dashboards with the namespace, which makes it easy to make sure access is always granted to new users in the namespace.
Creating and sharing a default theme
Before we start with the embedded authoring flow, we can set up a default theme for authors in the Foo namespace. The theme editor in QuickSight allows you to change the colors, fonts, and layouts that are used in a dashboard.
After you create a custom theme, you can share it with the namespace so all users within the namespace have access to it. See the following code:
aws quicksight update-theme-permissions --region us-east-1 --aws-account-id 111122223333 --cli-input-json file://permissions.json
permissions.json file contains the following:
Setting up the embedded authoring experience
Now that we have created the namespace and users, customized QuickSight, enabled a default theme, and shared the theme and dataset, we can set up the embedded authoring experience.
First, make sure that the domain where you embed QuickSight is allowed in your admin settings—access this on the Domains and embedding page.
Next, make sure that your application server has the permissions to invoke the
get-session-embed-url commands, which you need for embedding dashboards and the authoring interface, respectively.
For user authentication, QuickSight supports both AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) federated users and direct QuickSight federation. Both options mean that your end-users never see a QuickSight login page and are simply authenticated by your server. In this use case, we use QuickSight federation because we use a QuickSight identity type for Jill and Emma. See the following code:
When Jill tries to explore the data available, QuickSight applies the Oktank theme by default, and allows her to explore data and create dashboards, as needed.
As this dashboard is being built, Jill can share it with Emma, collaborate on it, and decide which users within Foo Company to publish to. With namespaces, Oktank knows that Jill doesn’t see any other users except Emma.
Overall, this set of Amazon QuickSight capabilities allows Oktank to provide a compelling analytics experience within their SaaS portal, while making sure that only the right users see the right data. QuickSight provides a highly scalable, multi-tenant analytics option that you can set up and productionize in days. For more information about this integration, see the tutorial Embed Amazon QuickSight.
The combination of embedded dashboards and authoring capabilities, together with namespaces for multi-tenancy and account customization options, allows developers and ISVs to quickly and easily set up sophisticated analytics for their application users—all without any infrastructure setup or management and scaling to millions of users. For more updates from QuickSight Embedded Analytics, see What’s New in the Amazon QuickSight User Guide!
For more resources, see the following:
About the Author
Jose Kunnackal John is principal product manager for Amazon QuickSight, AWS’ cloud-native, fully managed BI service. Jose started his career with Motorola, writing software for telecom and first responder systems. Later he was Director of Engineering at Trilibis Mobile, where he built a SaaS mobile web platform using AWS services. Jose is excited by the potential of cloud technologies and looks forward to helping customers with their transition to the cloud.