Snowflake making headway in Australia

Cloud data warehouse supplier Snowflake has nabbed several Australian customers and is looking at delivering its software via the Azure cloud service next year

Ten months after opening a local office, cloud data warehouse supplier Snowflake has signed up 20 Australian enterprises in multiple sectors, with another 20 in the wings. It also has half a dozen proofs of concept underway in New Zealand.

Globally, the six-year-old company claims 1,000 customers.

Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia, during a recent visit to Sydney, said the company was drawn to the proposition of “infinite concurrency with effectively unlimited data at a fraction of the cost”, when compared to on-premise data warehousing.

Local early adopters include Infotrack, Red Balloon, and Fitness and Lifestyle Group.

At present, Snowflake partners with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide the underpinning cloud storage and compute platform from its Sydney datacentres, but Muglia said Snowflake was about to go live with an Azure-based alternative – though it will not offer a locally based Azure service until 2019.

According to Muglia, it is the increased maturity of public cloud computing which has driven many enterprises to rethink their approach to data warehousing and look for alternatives to on-premise dedicated infrastructure. He said while both Amazon and Microsoft had cloud-based data warehousing solutions themselves, neither was developed specifically for the cloud.

Snowflake, he claimed, did not have any data or concurrent user limitations and could be used for data warehouses featuring both structured and semi-structured data. At this stage, the company is not able to tackle unstructured data such as video, though it is exploring how to index unstructured data.

While the maturity of cloud has accelerated the adoption of cloud-based data warehousing, he said enterprises were much more alive to the value of their data.

“There is a broad understanding of the impact of becoming more data driven,” said Muglia, adding that used wisely it could confer a competitive edge.

But he said many companies still struggled with having data strewn across various data sources, making it difficult to access and analyse. This was not an Australia-only challenge, he acknowledged.

Snowflake has been designed to consolidate data in a single cloud-based repository, and then provide concurrent access to multiple users so that the value of the data could be leveraged across an enterprise. “They can leverage data as a business asset,” he said.

However, Muglia acknowledged that organisations should not necessarily expect to see a reduction in their data warehousing costs, claiming that Snowflake customers often reported an increase in demand for analytics once the system was installed.

Instead, the benefits derive from the value an enterprise can glean from moving to a cloud warehouse, along with easier access and analysis to data, Snowflake claimed.

The firm commissioned Forrester Research to compare and contrast data warehousing for on-premise users against a cloud-based Snowflake alternative. That report, released in June 2018, indicated it was possible in some situations to achieve a 600% return on investment.

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