Betting Big on the Cloud
September 14, 2018
Author: Todd Beauchene
I remember the first time that someone asked me about cloud computing. I was attending a software conference in 2008, representing a BI vendor. One of the conference officials came to our booth to ask if anyone from our company would be willing to sit on a panel for a discussion about cloud computing. At the time, I had heard a few whispers about the concept of cloud computing, but I didn’t have a firm grasp of the concept or any idea of the impact it would have.
I declined the offer to sit on the panel, and instead watched from the audience. Some interesting ideas were presented, but as someone who frequently worked with very sensitive customer data it seemed far-fetched that customers would put data in the cloud.
Fast-forward 3 years and suddenly cloud computing was gaining incredible momentum.
That year I spent a good chunk of my free time working on a startup that hosted its service in AWS, and I learned a lot. Unfortunately our venture didn’t get very far, but the seed had been planted. I then joined a much larger cloud-based BI startup, where I began to really understand how the cloud was a game-changer.
I next made the jump to Amazon.com, providing BI for a key development team and their business partners. Although not in the AWS business unit, I quickly learned that the cloud was at the heart of how Amazon ran everything. Flexibility and scalability were essential for such a dynamic organization. Yet again I learned a great deal.
“A disruptive product for next generation data warehousing in the cloud”
I was not looking to make a change, but that pitch from a recruiter resonated with me. Looking back, the pitch seems like a lot of buzzwords, but something about the message made me want to know more. At each step of the process I heard more and more things that made me think this company was something special.
When I interviewed with the founders, I was blown away by what they told me about what they had built over the past two years. I was sold, and decided to make the jump.
Snowflake has built a database that truly leverages the flexibility and scalability of the cloud. It starts with a unique architecture that separates storage from compute, making it possible for customers to handle data in ways that no one could even consider previously. For example, with unlimited storage at a reasonable cost you can load raw semi-structured data (like JSON, Avro, etc.) into Snowflake without worrying about consuming valuable storage in a traditional database cluster. When you add on that Snowflake added built-in parsing to discover the schema of the semi-structured data to enable schema on read, the applications are practically limitless. The speed and ease-of-use far exceed any Hadoop implementation I have ever dealt with.
Snowflake’s architecture also allows for scalable compute resources to handle variable loads and practically eliminate resource contention. We are just beginning to see what customers can do when they are no longer tied to a fixed resources.
Delivered as a service
The beauty of the cloud is that we are able to deliver all of this a service that requires little to no administration. Simply define a data model, load your data, and start querying. Some database gurus may want to get under the hood to tune the database. I used to be one of them, but with the benefit of experience I’ve realized the benefit of a database that automatically optimizes for performance and scalability. Snowflake lets you leverage the work of some of the top minds in the industry to get the best possible performance.
Cloud computing is enabling solutions we never could have dreamed of 7 years ago. It’s no longer a gamble to be “all in” on the cloud.