Snowflake Computing expanded the capabilities of its cloud data warehouse services this week with Snowflake Data Sharing – the ability for businesses and organizations to securely share live data among themselves without the need for complex data movement or copying.
The extension of Snowflake Computing's core data warehouse service could strengthen the company's competitive hand against Amazon Web Services and other cloud data warehouse providers.
"People have so many different places where they have data today, but they have the need to get that data into one place for analysis" said Jon Bock, marketing vice president at Snowflake Computing, in an interview with CRN.
Sharing data, either between companies or even between data "silos" inside a company, generally requires complex data transfer processes involving multiple databases, FTP files, ETL systems, electronic data interchange and other technologies.
With Snowflake's new data sharing capabilities, which the company calls "data sharehousing," enterprises that use the Snowflake data warehouse service can establish one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many data sharing relationships.
With the data sharing service a company could link data silos across multiple business units to get a comprehensive view of the company's operations, according to Snowflake, or share data with customers, partners and suppliers to reduce costs and improve efficiencies. SaaS business-to-business companies could use the service to aggregate customer data and provide it back to customers as an analytical service, Snowflake said.
Snowflake Data Sharing works with structured and semi-structured data. For two or more companies to share data, all of the participating companies must be users of the Snowflake data warehouse service, Bock emphasized. Snowflake's service has built-in access control capabilities that specifies who has access to what data and the new service extends those capabilities to work among multiple Snowflake customers, he said.
The company doesn't charge customers for the service directly, charging as it does with other Snowflake services for the compute resources used. Data sharing agreements are direct between data producers and consumers.
For service and system integration partners who work with Snowflake's service, the sharehousing capabilities create opportunities to help customers access data from outside sources, according to Bock. Systems integrators tasked with combining a customer's disparate internal and external data sources can use sharehousing "to unify all those different data silos that have been purchased and deployed," he said.
Providers of Data-as-a-Service or Software-as-a-Service applications could use the data sharing functions to create new data feeds for business-to-business customers that enhance an application's usefulness. Solution providers could even use it to collect subscribers' data and provide it back to customers as an analytics service.
PlaceIQ is one such company that currently uses Snowflake, providing data about consumer location and visitation patterns to retail, automotive, CPG, restaurants and other customers. PlaceIQ plans to use the new data sharing capabilities to make it easier for its data clients to combine geolocation and other data from multiple sources, according to Snowflake.
"Snowflake has redefined what's possible for data analysis within and between organizations," Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia said in a statement. The new capabilities turn data into a more valuable business asset for data analysis and business operations, he said.
The sharehousing capabilities have been in private beta testing, but are now being made generally available to all Snowflake customers, according to Bock.