Snowflake Expands Into Data Application Services With New Unistore Platform, Development Framework
At its Snowflake Summit 2022 event this week the fast-growing data cloud service provider made good on its strategy to go beyond analytics and data sharing and help partners and customers develop and run data-intensive applications.
Data cloud provider Snowflake is expanding beyond its core data management, analytics and sharing capabilities with a number of new data workload and application development offerings that take the fast-growing company into the realm of data applications and data monetization.
Company executives touted the announcements, coming at the company’s Snowflake Summit 2022 conference in Las Vegas this week, as a major step in Snowflake’s evolution.
The announcements also come as Snowflake, which brought its first products to market just eight years ago, remains on a fast-growth trajectory that saw the company’s revenue more than double in fiscal 2022 (ended Jan. 31) to $1.22 billion.
In his Snowflake Summit keynote Tuesday, CEO Frank Slootman joked that just a few years ago Snowflake’s revenue was “basically a popsicle stand.” He said the company has recorded the fastest growth to $1 billion in annual revenue of any enterprise software company, “and if I have anything to say about it, it will be the fastest to $2 billion as well.”
Slootman (pictured) said that while some IT companies are pulling back on spending and hiring due to the uncertain macroeconomic climate, he said Snowflake retains a strong balance sheet and cash flow.
“That means we have the power to weather storms and really continue to invest in the business and we‘re going to be around in a big way for a very long period of time.” Noting that the company now has more than 4,000 employees, he added: “We have not backed off our hiring goals. So pedal-to-the-metal, we’re just going to follow through on our plans.”
Slootman then addressed Snowflake’s plans to expand beyond data analytics and data sharing into data-intensive applications and data monetization.
“We‘ve done so much work over the last several years, what we call workload modernization, which just means bringing legacy workloads to the cloud, big database migrations, that sort of thing,” Slootman said. “And we will be doing that for like 10 years, 20 years, pretty much indefinitely.”
But with data applications and data monetization, Snowflake is moving even deeper into their customers’ core business operations, the CEO said.
“Our conversations with our customers have really changed…conversations are higher up in organizations. It‘s something that we call mission alignment. Instead of just bringing your legacy workloads to the cloud, we are now talking about, ‘What you are doing for a living, what is your core mission, what are your core strategic objectives? And how can your data strategy, that mission, really be helped further?’” Slootman said.
Unistore, Application Framework Unveiled
To that end Snowflake Tuesday launched Unistore, a new data service that can process transactional and analytical data workloads together on a single platform. That, according to the company, will simplify and streamline the development of transactional applications and provide consistent data governance, strong performance and near-unlimited scale.
While transactional and analytical data have traditionally been maintained separately, Unistore expands Snowflake’s data cloud to include transactional use cases such as application state and data serving. At the core of Unistore is Hybrid Tables, new technology currently in private preview that provides single-row operations and allows users to build transactional applications directly on Snowflake and quickly perform analytics on transactional data.
Snowflake also debuted the Native Application Framework, also currently in private preview stage, that will allow customer and partner developers to build data-intensive applications, monetize them through the Snowflake Marketplace and run them directly within their Snowflake instances, reducing the need to move data.
With the Native Application Framework developers can use Snowflake functions such as stored procedures, user-defined functions and user-defined table functions. The framework is also integrated with Streamlit, the data application specialist company that Snowflake bought in March for $800 million.
Snowflake also unveiled Snowpark for Python, which brings the Python development environment – including tools and libraries – to the Snowflake platform for application developers, data scientists and data engineers.
“The original focus of our founders was on disrupting analytics, both the traditional data warehouse market as well as the big data market. And we‘ve seen how those enhancements have changed how the industry thinks about analytics, architecture, separation of storage and compute, et cetera,” said Christian Kleinerman, Snowflake senior vice president of product, in a pre-Summit press and analyst briefing on the product announcements.
“It‘s slightly over four years [when] we set out to change how organizations collaborated in terms of data when we created data sharing, that over time evolved into our data marketplace, and we’ve seen how the industry and the use cases that customers adopt have been evolving based on that,” Kleinerman said.
“Today the focus is around application development. We strongly believe that customers and organizations of all sizes and verticals will benefit from being able to collaborate with shared data functions or applications with one another,” he said.
Moves Align With GSI Partners’ Strategies
The Snowflake announcements resonate with several of the company’s system integrator channel partners, including Accenture and Slalom.
“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 Lan Guan, a senior managing director at Accenture and leader of the system integrator’s data and AI business, in an interview with CRN. “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 has also worked closely for about four years with Slalom Consulting, which was just named Snowflake’s Americas global systems integrator partner of the year. Snowflake’s moves to develop data application products is “in lockstep” with Slalom’s strategy, said Hilary Feier, Slalom consulting and alliances leader, in an interview with CRN.
Snowflake “is moving into a space that we’re already very strong in,” Feier said of developing 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,” Feir said. “Data monetization is an area that we’re seeing a lot of interest from clients,” she added.