AWS previews Amazon Q: an AI-powered business assistant coming first to IT pros and developers

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Amazon Web Services Inc. today announced the preview of Amazon Q, a new generative artificial intelligence-powered assistant that can be tailored for a customer’s business, which will first be rolled out to assist information technology teams and developers.

The company unveiled Amazon Q during AWS re:Invent 2023, its annual week-long conference, showing how developers and IT professionals can receive assistance getting started building applications on AWS, researching best practices, coding new features, troubleshooting issues in networking, or getting recommendations for AWS instance types, all without leaving an editor or a console.

“Amazon Q can help you get fast, relevant answers to pressing questions, solve problems, generate content, and take actions using the data and expertise found in your company’s information repositories, code, and enterprise systems,” Andy Jassy, chief executive of Amazon, said about the announcement on X, formerly Twitter.

Although AWS is rolling this out to developers and IT pros first, the company aims to eventually extend across businesses at large — similar to how other AI assistants can connect to numerous different data sources, provide questions and answers and provide expertise or assistance based on internal company information. This potentially could make it a powerful rival to OpenAI’s ChatGPT EnterpriseMicrosoft Corp.’s Copilot for 365, and Google’s Duet AI for Workspace, all of which exist in the market as AI assistants for organizations.

The new assistant is going to be transformative for lots of different kinds of work, said AWS CEO Adam Selipsky (pictured). He explained that Q has been trained on more than 17 years of AWS knowledge. It will first be available across multiple parts of the AWS ecosystem to provide quick access to questions and answers.

“This takes generative AI use to another level, with pragmatic applications for most businesses,” David Linthicum, chief cloud strategy officer at Deloitte Consulting LLP, told SiliconANGLE.

Professionals can access the Amazon Q feature from the AWS console and ask questions, including how to use the service, what application programming interfaces are available, what services can be connected with and how to interface them. For example, a user can query the system directly from the console about what they plan to do, using conversational language as if they’re talking to an expert, and it will respond with a list of services and citations including best practices.

Amazon Q can be called up from the Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute or EC2 console to get advice about what type of instance might be best to host a particular type of application. After defining a set of requirements, the assistant will reply with recommended EC2 instances based on needs. If a professional is having issues with networking, for example having a problem connecting to a secure shell, and need to diagnose an issue, they can call up Amazon Q and ask, “Why can’t I SSH to my EC2 instance?” and the assistant will connect them to a network analyzer to help troubleshoot the connection.

The AI-powered assistant is also available for developers, who spend a great deal of time coding and working in integrated development environments, applications that assist with editing and developing code. As a result, AWS has integrated it within supported IDEs alongside Amazon CodeWhisperer, an AI-powered in-line code recommendations and snippets as developers type.

Now, developers can also get a conversational experience as they code. Amazon Q can be used to describe their source code, which could be useful for situations where a developer is coming from another project and needs a quick refresher. It can also be told to improve the application with a new function, such as having it integrate with a database and insert its suggestion directly into the code.

Using this conversational capability, developers can work interactively from an idea for a feature they intend to build into their application within their IDE or Amazon CodeCatalyst and build new code. With Amazon Q developers can conversationally iterate new features into their code within minutes using step-by-step instructions, following best practices that understand their own codebase and business knowledge, right from within the IDE.

Using Amazon Q, developers can upgrade an entire application in a matter of hours by starting a guided transformation. Called Amazon Q Transformation, the AI-powered assistant will automatically analyze the existing codebase, generate a transformation plan and complete key transformation tasks to help simplify maintaining, migrating and upgrading existing applications. This feature is available in preview for IntelliJ IDEA and AWS Toolkit for Visual Studio Code to upgrade Java 8 and Java 11 applications to version 17, a Java Long-Term Support release.

The initial preview of Amazon Q is available now with many of its features available for free. Once the preview ends, a business tier will become available for $20 per month and a version with additional features for IT professionals and developers will cost $25 per month.

Photo: AWS

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