You’ll hear a mantra again and again if you spend enough time in enterprise computing circles: “data has gravity.” Usually it’s meant to refer to the difficulty companies have moving their applications to a new infrastructure, but it’s also a factor when it comes to sharing large data sets between two companies, and Snowflake Computing thinks it has a solution to that problem.
The company’s cloud data warehouse product is getting a new feature called Snowflake Data Sharing, which allows two Snowflake customers to share large amounts of data with each other without having to dump a load of data on each other, saving time and the hassle of rebuilding a database each time. The feature makes a lot of sense for companies with partners that analyze big data sets in hopes of uncovering insights or streamlining operations, said Matt Glickman, vice president of product at Snowflake.
A data warehouse is basically the same thing as a database, but it’s a version that has been modified to favor analytical applications and to prioritize reading from the database over writing to it. Snowflake, led by longtime Microsoft server executive Bob Muglia, sells a cloud-based version of a data warehouse that runs on Amazon Web Services.
Sharing data stored in a data warehouse is difficult, Glickman said. If you allow API access to data stored remotely, the performance is generally terrible, and downloading that data to your own storage assets and rebuilding the database architecture is also a pain, he said.
But “data just has to move,” he said. Lots of companies of all types have agreements with analytics providers that crunch data and find hidden opportunities or inefficiencies, and industrial internet or financial services companies need to move massive amounts of data around nearly every day.
So Snowflake Data Sharing allows a data producer that uses Snowflake’s product to grant access to that data to a data consumer, like an analytics company, Glickman said. Both companies have to be Snowflake customers to access the data but the company doesn’t charge an additional tax on data sharing, and all the data is shared behind Snowflake’s security infrastructure, he said.
Snowflake, which opened an engineering center in Bellevue earlier this year, has raised a whopping $205 million in funding from investors including Seattle’s Madrona Group. Cloud databases continue to see investment from venture capitalists and big companies alike as former cloud skeptics nearing the end of lengthy contracts with Oracle start thinking about breaking free, with new products from all three major cloud vendors in the first half of 2017 alone.