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Snowflake falls onto Azure

Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia

Snowflake Computing's data warehouse as a service — originally offered on AWS — is now being previewed on Microsoft Azure.

"Organisations continue to move their data analytics to the cloud at an increasing pace, with the cloud data warehouse at the core of their strategy," said Snowflake chief executive Bob Muglia.

"Customer demand for an Azure-based data warehouse is also on the rise. We're working with Microsoft to provide the performance, concurrency and flexibility that Azure customers require from a modern, cloud-built data warehouse."

While SQL and relational databases have been used with structured data since the 1980s, the combination "was never well suited" to semi-structured machine-generated data, he told iTWire.

Snowflake is a next-generation data warehouse, Muglia explained. It uses true SQL, and while it is not intended for OLTP (online transaction processing) systems, it does provide a basis for structured and semistructured analytics.

Traditional approaches typically load transactions into a data warehouse during the following day, but that is "clearly unacceptable in today's world". Snowflake customers normally see transactions in their data warehouses within two or three minutes, and some have shaved the lag to less than a minute, he said, and "we'll continue to reduce that window."

And as Snowflake's architecture is very different to traditional data warehouse products from companies such as Teradata, "our storage price is insanely cheap" – in Australia, just US$25 per terabyte. Furthermore, "everything's encrypted, everything's compressed".

Snowflake is also capable of storing very large data sets – one of the company's own data tables is around 1PB.

"It's the data warehouse you always wanted," Muglia said, as the use of SQL means compatibility with familiar tools while it also handles semistructured data and does not limit the size of data sets.

While Snowflake is still seeing growth for its original AWS-based product, "we're seeing a lot of demand for Azure" and the company has a largely different pipeline of customers for AWS and Azure.

Snowflake on Azure is initially available in the US (starting in Azure East-US-2, with more regions to follow), and Europe will be the next geography with local availability.

The company is working with Microsoft to judge the demand for a local Azure service for Australia, Muglia told iTWire, but while it looks forward to providing that option "it will not be [delivered in] 2018".

Snowflake on Azure is "a big new revenue opportunity" for the company, he added.

"Migration of an enterprise data warehouse into the cloud is a key requirement for Azure customers," said Microsoft executive vice-president of cloud and enterprise, Scott Guthrie.

"We look forward to partnering with Snowflake to enable these data warehouse migrations for enterprise customers moving onto Microsoft Azure. We are pleased to welcome Snowflake to the Azure platform."

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Stephen Withers

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Stephen Withers is one of Australia¹s most experienced IT journalists, having begun his career in the days of 8-bit 'microcomputers'. He covers the gamut from gadgets to enterprise systems. In previous lives he has been an academic, a systems programmer, an IT support manager, and an online services manager. Stephen holds an honours degree in Management Sciences and a PhD in Industrial and Business Studies.

 

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