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Snowflake’s Pivot To Data Applications, Vertical Industry Focus, Create Partner Opportunities
Partners say the new data management and development technologies launched at this week’s Snowflake Summit, combined with the company’s recent focus on vertical industries and a new partner competency program, align with their efforts to provide customers with next-generation data cloud services.
New unified data management and application development offerings unveiled this week by Snowflake set the stage for expanded partner opportunities in data applications and data monetization, according to channel executives at the data cloud giant and the company’s channel partners.
Those opportunities also get a boost from a vertical industry competency program for partners that Snowflake is ramping up and highlighted during the Partner Day component of the annual Snowflake Summit 2022 conference this week—part of the cloud company’s broader strategy to focus on a number of key verticals including retail, health care and financial services.
Snowflake’s move into an expanded range of data services is in alignment with the strategic direction of some the company’s biggest channel partners.
“I believe that over the next couple of years more and more of these workloads will shift to the cloud. There is enormous market potential,” said Lan Guan, a senior managing director at Accenture and leader of the system integrator’s data and AI business, in an interview with CRN.
Snowflake initially focused on providing cloud-based data analytics services in its early days, providing an alternative to traditional on-premises data warehouse systems. From there the company expanded into data-sharing services.
This week the company, at its Snowflake Summit 2022 conference in Las Vegas, unveiled plans to further expand its data service offerings into operational data applications. Key to that plan was the launch of Unistore, a new data service that can process transactional and analytical data workloads together on a single platform and allow those applications to run on Snowflake in closer proximity to stored data.
Snowflake also debuted the Native Application Framework and Snowpark for Python, toolsets that customers and partners can use to develop data-intensive applications that run on the Snowflake data cloud. Snowpark, introduced in late 2020, is a development framework, libraries and APIs that allow programmers to utilize development tools in a serverless manner on Snowflake.
“We’re just completely upending and rethinking how to build data applications from scratch,” said Philip Larson, senior director of worldwide partner programs at Snowflake, in an interview with CRN.
“With the launch of Unistore, Snowflake is more aggressively attacking traditional OLTP transaction processing workloads, which unlocks huge potential for organizations creating data applications that require that level of transaction processing,” Larson said. “And some of the benefits of doing it the Snowflake way is that when you build these kinds of OLTP applications, you get the benefit of the analytical processing, right there.”
For partners, these new technologies dovetail with the Powered by Snowflake initiative the company launched one year ago. Part of the company’s Snowflake Partner Network program, Powered by Snowflake offers solution provider and ISV partners the technical and marketing support and resources they need to develop cloud-based data applications for their customers on Snowflake.
All this provides partners with more development options, including building managed applications that run natively on the Snowflake platform or connect to data managed by Snowflake, said Colleen Kapase, Snowflake’s channel chief, in an interview with CRN just prior to the Summit event.
“There‘s many different ways to build applications on Snowflake,” said Kapase, senior vice president of worldwide partner ecosystem and alliances at the data cloud company. “The fact of the matter is the Powered by Snowflake initiative has got a lot of steam behind it and it is really taking off. We have hundreds of organizations that have now built applications on top of Snowflake and are live out there in the [Snowflake] Marketplace.”
“The pandemic has led so many organizations to undergo this compressed digital transformation,” moving data, applications and IT infrastructure to the cloud “in months, not years,” said Guan at Accenture. “And I believe that over the next couple of years more and more of these workloads will shift to the cloud. There is enormous market potential.”
Accenture has been working with Snowflake for about four years, helping joint customers build what Guan called the “digital core” for their cloud-based IT. The application layer “is where the new experiences, new ways of thinking, new ways of operating, come to life as part of this digital core.”
Guan said Snowflake’s moves “to get into data applications and also to amplify the data-sharing capabilities of Snowflake is absolutely aligned with our strategy.”
Snowflake’s moves to develop data application products is “in lockstep” with Slalom’s strategy, said Hilary Feier, consulting and alliances leader at Slalom, also a big Snowflake partner, in an interview with CRN. Snowflake “is moving into a space that we’re already very strong in,” Feier said of data applications—what she called “intelligent products.”
“That’s one of our big go-to-market offerings. I think we have an opportunity to do more in that space in terms of application build-out on Snowflake,” said Feier, who sits on Snowflake’s Partner Advisory Board. Slalom, which has worked Snowflake for about four years, was just named Snowflake’s Americas Global Systems Integrator Partner of the Year.
Snowflake also unveiled this week new capabilities that make it possible for businesses to monetize data assets by selling them through the Snowflake Marketplace. While partners could previously list and share data assets through the marketplace, they could not transact data sales. Kapase said that creates opportunities for partners and their customers.
“I‘m kind of pushing our SI [systems integrator partner] organizations to think about this because there are so many companies out there that think about data as a cost and an asset that has to be protected and managed, but they now think of as a revenue-generating opportunity. And now the [Snowflake] Marketplace makes it incredibly easy to do that, in a governed, secure way,” Kapase said.
“There are so many organizations that are sitting on just a treasure trove of data and this is the simplest way to monetize that from a transactional perspective. But we need our SI community to talk to some of these organizations sitting on this [data] to change their mindset, change their thinking of how what was a cost center can turn into a revenue-generating opportunity,” Kapase said.
“Data monetization is an area that we’re seeing a lot of interest from clients,” Slalom’s Feier said.
This week’s announcements are also closely aligned with Snowflake’s increased focus on vertical industries. Those efforts include a recent restructuring of the company’s internal sales force along specific verticals and the company’s launch over the past year of a series of data cloud services targeting specific industries including health care and life sciences, retail and consumer packaged goods, financial services and others.
Vertical Industry Expertise
Many of those services were launched in conjunction with ISV, technology, solution provider and strategic service partners. This year Snowflake has been ramping up a partner competency program around those vertical industries and Larson said that just prior to the Summit event that some 35 partners had been awarded more than 100 competency badges.
“We’ve got a ton of badges,” said Feier at Slalom, which has already earned competencies in financial services, health care and life sciences, retail and CPG, media and entertainment, technology and other verticals, as well as in horizontal service competencies like data migration.
“I think it’s a great way to showcase to a particular industry—and, frankly, to the [Snowflake sales] reps—that we’ve done a lot of work with that particular industry and with that type of business,” Feier said. “We have credentials; we’ve done a lot of work there.”
Snowflake has had partner tiers since launching its Snowflake Partner Network program two years ago. But the vertical industry competencies “recognize partners based on the depth of capability and specific solutions in specific vertical solution areas,” Larson said.
The industry competency awards are based on partners’ vertical industry capabilities with particular emphasis on building industry-specific solutions and providing professional services that lead to customer success.
Larson cited the financial services sector, for example. “I want to identify those partners, those services partners, who understand how to take financial services data from our marketplace, combine it with a financial service customer’s internal data, understand how that relates to applications that may be powered by Snowflake … [building] all of these financial services datasets together into a unique industry-based solution for an end customer. Those are the partners we‘re recognizing with these badges,” he said.
“What this allows us to do is highlight to our field organization, as well as to our customer base, those partners that have deep capability building Snowflake solutions in their industries,” Larson said.
Snowflake’s new offerings will help Accenture develop new next-generation products and services “and make them very industry-relevant,” Guan said. “I’m seeing a lot of alignment in terms of where we view the industry priorities. These are things that will help us co-innovate on new Accenture industry solutions that we can take together to our industry clients.”