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Community Blog Perform Secure Data Analytics with Quick BI

Perform Secure Data Analytics with Quick BI

Alibaba Cloud Quick BI is a fully managed business intelligence service built for the cloud users on Alibaba Cloud.

by Jonah Wang, Solution Architect

Introduction

Alibaba Cloud Quick BI is a fully managed business intelligence service built for the cloud users on Alibaba Cloud. Quick BI provides easy to use tools to visualize the data, analyze the data, and get business insights from the data and share with others.

One of the challenges for data scientist and data analyst, is how to prioritize and balance the protection and usability of confidential data to drive value for the business. In this article, we will discuss how to perform data analytics securely with Quick BI for the data stored on Alibaba Cloud.

Preparation

The first thing we need to do is to setup the data source for Quick BI.

  1. Access Quick BI from Alibaba Cloud Console or through the link https://bi.data.aliyun.com/console-entry.htm:
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  2. At the Quick BI landing page, choose the region which is closest to your database. In my example, the database used is setup on Alibaba Cloud ApsaraDB RDS MySQL in Jakarta, thus, I will choose the Indonesia deployment of Quick BI, and click “Enter Workspace”.
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  3. It is assumed you have purchased your Quick BI service, otherwise, please refer to https://www.alibabacloud.com/help/en/quick-bi/latest/purchases-upgrades-downgrades-renewals-and-overdue-payments to complete your purchase. Once you have purchased, you can see the landing page, click the button to enter into Quick BI workspace.
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  4. In Quick BI workspace, you will see “Dashboard”, “Datasets” and “Data Sources” in the left menu. Click on “Data Sources” and then “Create Data Source” button to connect to the database.
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  5. In the “Add Data Source” popup panel, you will see a list of Cloud data sources and user-created data sources supported by Quick BI, you can choose the engine of your database. In this article, we will choose “MySQL” which is the Alibaba Cloud ApsaraDB RDS MySQL we setup in the same region as the data source.
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  6. After choosing the “MySQL” option in the above section, you will see a “Add MySQL Data Sources” popup, for you to key in the details of the data source connection. There are two options to connect to the ApsaraDB RDS MySQL database: from external network and from internal network.
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Connect to RDS from External Network

The first option to connect to RDS instance on Alibaba Cloud is to connect through external network, using the Public Endpoint of RDS instance.

Before the configuration, make sure the whitelist IP addresses of Quick BI have been added to the RDS instance Whitelist.

This is to prevent the Public Endpoint of the RDS instance from unauthorized access from the public Internet, but allowing the access from Quick BI only.

Quick BI in different region will have different whitelist IP addresses. The whitelist IP addresses of Quick BI Jakarta region is 100.104.0.0/16 and 8.215.80.0/24.

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Now we can follow up from previous section to proceed with the data source configuration in Quick BI.

  1. To connect to the RDS from external network, you will firstly leave the “VPC Data Source” unchecked.
  2. Then key in the mandatory information of the MySQL database connection: Database Address, Port Number, Database, Username, Password, Database version. Do take note that the “Database Address” should be the public URL of the database, which is in the format of:
<instance_id>ao.mysql.<region_id>.rds.aliyuncs.com

Please ensure that after the instance_id of the RDS instance, there is “ao” indicating this is an external URL, and the region_id should be the same as the Quick BI region you selected. The external RDS data source can be accessible by Quick BI, but the cross-region network performance and stability cannot be guaranteed.

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3.Click “Test Connection” button to test the configuration. For successful configuration, a message below will be popped up.
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Connect to RDS from Internal Network

Even though the IP whitelisting can protect the database from authorized access, a securer option of accessing data in Quick BI, is to connect from internal network using the RDS instance Internal Endpoint, so that RDS instance Public Endpoint and IP whitelisting are not required any more.

Before the data source configuration for internal network, a set of access key is needed.

  1. To connect to the RDS from internal network, you will firstly check the “VPC Data Source” checkbox.
  2. Key in the mandatory information of the MySQL database connection, other than the mandatory fields for external connection (Database Address, Port Number, Database, Username, Password, Database version), the additional fields are: AccessKey ID, AccessKey Secret, Instance ID, and Region. Do take note that the “Database Address” should be the private URL of the database, which is in the format below. Please ensure that the region_id should be the same as the Quick BI region you selected.
<instance_id>.mysql.<region_id>.rds.aliyuncs.com

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3.Click “Test Connection” button to test the configuration. For successful configuration, a message below will be popped up.

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Data Residency

Data residency refers to the physical or geographic location of an organization's data or information. Similar to data sovereignty, data residency also relates to the data laws or regulatory requirements imposed on data based on the data laws that govern a country or region in which it resides.

In many countries, data laws and regulations enforce organizations that use cloud computing to store and consume the data within the country where the data originated.

Alibaba Cloud has a strong presence in Indonesia with 3 world-class local data centers, and many of customers would like to make use of Alibaba Cloud’s 3-DCs deployment to store their data in a more resilient approach.

Now, Alibaba Cloud has launched their Quick BI in Indonesia region, which allows their Indonesian customers to make better insight on their data, and perform data analysis easily, and also ensure the data will be stored, processed and analysed within Indonesia.

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Figure 1: Quick BI Dashboard for New Retail

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