• Products meant to allow businesses to analyze more data
  • Web-services unit generated $1.8 billion in quarterly sales

Amazon.com Inc.’s business is built on selling physical and digital products. Now the company wants to sell ideas as well.

Amazon Web Services announced products Wednesday that give businesses new ways to transfer, manipulate and derive insights from data they store in the company’s cloud.

The products span diverse areas of information technology from a business intelligence service named Quicksight, to security systems, to new tools to help people migrate databases from proprietary versions into free ones hosted within Amazon. The company also unveiled a new product, called Snowball, that is a hardware device that lets businesses securely transfer large amounts of data into the Amazon Web Services cloud. And Amazon announced a deal with consulting giant Accenture Plc to focus on corporate customers.

Expansive Reach

The products and services shown at the company’s re:invent customer conference in Las Vegas represent a further expansion by Amazon into competitors’ territories, whether database vendors such as Oracle Corp. or business intelligence companies such as Tableau Software Inc. The effort also keeps the pressure on traditional hardware providers, who are seeing their businesses slow as more of their customers opt for cloud computing offered by Amazon and others.

Amazon’s Web Services division generated $1.8 billion in sales in the Seattle-based company’s most recent quarter and almost $400 million in operating profit.

The e-commerce company created the AWS division almost 10 years ago, giving it a lead on competitors such as Microsoft Corp., Google Inc. and International Business Machines Corp. that were slow to release their own cloud services. In recent years that has changed. Microsoft is now a major competitor to AWS via its Azure service, and companies like Oracle are converting more applications to run in the cloud.

Copycats Falling Behind

"Every large technology company in the world is marching fast now to try and create a copy of what AWS has built,” Andy Jassy, the senior vice president of Amazon Web Services, said Wednesday in Las Vegas.

To ensure its future growth, Amazon needs to pull in as much data from businesses as possible so that it can grow and achieve greater economies of scale. That will let the company lower the prices of its services and generate more business, said Holger Mueller, an analyst with Constellation Research.

"The question is for the second or third phase of the public cloud business, how do they get the load to keep growing?" Mueller said. " It’s all about getting the data."

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