Snowflake shifts gears from data warehouse to application cloud
Cloud-based data warehouse company Snowflake is shifting gears. Launched in 2014 with the aim of disrupting the traditional market for data warehousing and big data analytics, the company is turning its attention to application development.
At its annual Snowflake Summit on Tuesday, the company announced its Native Application Framework, which provides the ability to build and run applications within its Data Cloud platform.
The application framework, currently in private preview, allows developers to build applications and monetize them on the Snowflake Data Marketplace, said Chris Child, senior director of product development at Snowflake. Users of these apps can install and run them directly in their Snowflake instances, he added.
“We’re sort of evolving from a data warehouse to a data platform and then to a data cloud. And now we want to evolve that from a data cloud to a true application cloud,” said said Chris Child, senior director of product development at Snowflake.
About four years ago, with the growing demand for analytics and the evolution of analytics-related architecture, such as the separation of compute and storage, the company redoubled its efforts to facilitate the collaboration of data within companies. This led Snowflake to overhaul its data warehouse, which became its Data Cloud platform in 2019.
Ongoing attempts to facilitate data sharing and collaboration have resulted in the company’s Data Marketplace. The marketplace enables data sharing within organizations and also allows them to give other companies access to that data, charging them for usage.
In March this year, the company launched two industry-specific data clouds, for the healthcare and retail sectors, with the aim of facilitating how companies in these areas can share and monetize datasets.
Build, run, and monetize apps in Snowflake
Today, the reason for launching Native Application Framework is to reduce the time and effort required to move data when building and running applications, said Tony Baer, Principal Analyst at dbInsights.
It also means that developers will be able to build and run applications under Snowflake’s common runtime, security, and governance umbrella, Baer added.
In addition to offering Snowflake features such as stored procedures, user-defined functions (UDFs), and user-defined table functions (UDTFs) for developers, Snowflake will add integration with the framework. Streamlit open-source application. The integration is intended to help develop interactive client interfaces, as well as telemetry features such as event monitoring and alerts for troubleshooting.
These features, according to Child, are still under development.
Python-based Streamlit, aimed at machine learning and data science engineering teams to help visualize, mutate and share data, was acquired by Snowflake in March.
Native Application Framework already has users
Several companies, including Capital One, LiveRamp and Informatica, have already used the Native Application Framework to build apps, Snowflake said.
While Capital One’s solution, called Slingshot, offers data management, LiveRamp and Informatica have developed apps for cloud cost management, identity resolution, and data integration.
The Snowflake Google Analytics and ServiceNow connectors, both of which are in private preview, were also built using the native application framework, Child said, adding that the Service Now connector helps speed up ticket response from the services Center.
The revenue share agreement for apps shared through the Marketplace is 10% of the transaction value.
“As the numbers go up, we’re going to have to have some sort of grading scale. So right now it’s starting at 10%, which is what we started with data sharing as well. And we’re going to scale that into depending on the usage case over time,” said Christian Kleinerman, senior vice president of products at Snowflake.
Unistore aims to unite analytical and transactional workloads
As organizations look to reduce the time it takes to develop applications, there is a need to address the problem of siled transactional and analytical data, which in turn creates complexities when data needs to be moved between systems.
Targeting this specific problem, Snowflake also introduced a new product on Tuesday that brings analytical and transactional workloads together.
Called Unistore, and currently in private preview, the system is designed to allow development teams to extend the Data Cloud to include transactional use cases such as application state and data service, the company said.
To help Unistore build transactional applications, Snowflake is introducing a new feature called Hybrid Tables, which is also in private preview.
The hybrid tables offer fast single-row operations and allow customers to build transactional business applications directly on Snowflake, the company said, adding that the new tool will also allow customers to perform analytics on transactional data for a immediate context and join hybrid tables with existing Snowflake. Tables for an overview of all data.
Adobe is an early adopter of Unistore, Kleinerman said, adding that the company uses Hybrid Tables’ private preview for its Adobe Campaigns app.
Snowflake emphasizes transaction processing
The strategy behind including more analytical workloads on the Snowflake Data Cloud, according to Baer, is to solidify its position as the preferred destination platform for transaction processing use cases, by integrating operational analysis, and not to compete head-on with MySQL, Oracle, or SQL Server for pure OLTP (online transaction processing) applications.
“From this perspective, it’s the mirror image of MongoDB, slowly adding analytics to its operational database. The goal is the same, but the two players are getting there from different starting points.” , Baer said.
The other difference, according to Baer, is that Snowflake is able to embed operational analytics into transactions compared to MongoDB, where for now the process is even more primitive.
Launching the application framework with Unistore will energize Snowflake’s Data Marketplace strategy, said Doug Henschen, principal analyst, Constellation Research.
“This is a bold announcement where Snowflake offers customers the ability to bring more transactional data into applications to run a broader set of applications on Snowflake while leveraging the Snowflake Data Marketplace to monetize those apps,” Henschen said.
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