From being an almost unknown company ten years ago, Snowflake has become one of the fastest growing companies in the cloud industry. The American multinational, with a presence in Spain since 2019, has become the fastest to reach a valuation of one trillion dollars, showing to what extent there is an appetite at this time for technologies that simplify data management in the cloud.
What Snowflake is about, how it helps companies improve the management of their workloads and why it is one of the fastest growing companies, we have had the opportunity to chat with José María Alonso, the company’s regional director for the south of Europe.
[MCPRO] First of all, tell me what exactly Snowflake is and how it differs from other cloud data analytics solutions.
[José María Alonso] Snowflake was originally conceived in 2012 as a data warehouse in the cloud: only and exclusively for the cloud. Today, Snowflake is a platform for managed data services, both in your own cloud and in a multicloud environment. And that’s one of the main differences. Snowflake has a data layer that is unique in that data storage and computation are done separately, so they can be used for different purposes and workloads.
In this sense, and in addition to the data warehouse or data lake, Snowflake can optimize all data engineering processes and also facilitates data science processes. In addition, last year we announced a solution for the field of cybersecurity and to improve the development of applications thanks to tools such as snow parka solution for developing applications with Python.
Snowflake’s fundamental mantra is to promote collaboration based on shared data. Take advantage of all these possibilities of the cloud to enable data sharing and collaboration not only within the same organization but also between different organizations, even with partners, with suppliers, with customers, with regulatory entities and all through a marketplace for example.
[MCPRO] How is the market for Snowflake in Spain?
[José María Alonso] As I was saying before, in 2022 we have completed 10 years as a company. But the truth is that it was not until 2015 when a structured “go to market” process began. Since then it has been an exponential success story. In fact Snowflake is still today the company that has reached the fastest billion dollars (billion euros).
The number of clients has been developing significantly with organizations in different industries, in different sectors that are embracing the concept of this data cloud. The latest data we have, which are those published for October 31 in our Q3 closing, speak of some 7,200 customers worldwideof which more or less 1,500 are in Europe and 100 are in Spain.
The good thing about this number of clients is that 543 companies are from the Global 2000, that is, from the 2000 largest companies in the world. Here in Spain, of those Global 2000, there are 16, of those 16, 9 are customers. But we also have medium-sized clients, since obviously the structure of the Spanish market is what it is. We mainly focus on the largest companies or the middle market. And within that area we have very significant references. In the largest market we work with banks such as Santander and at a lower level we have references such as Hawkers or Quirón Salud.
[MCPRO] How has your evolution been in Spain in 2022 and what do you expect in 2023?
[José María Alonso] The evolution from the beginning is crazy, just as it is being at the corporate level. In Spain it starts in 2019, just before the pandemic. But from 2019 to today, we have gone from that, from having one client to having almost 100.
For us, 2022 has been a year of consolidation. We have continued to grow in clients, and we have managed to ensure that those who started with us before continue to increase their use of the platform with new use cases and more workloads.
[MCPRO] What do you think are the main obstacles, the main difficulties that companies are encountering in their data management in the cloud, and what might lead them to trust you?
[José María Alonso] I think there has been a rapid evolution in recent years. Three or four years ago, the market was not so mature in Spain, with many companies still wondering whether to make that trip to the cloud. I believe that today, however, practically all companies either have already moved to the cloud in some way or are considering it, because they all fundamentally recognize the differentiating elements of the cloud.
The elasticity, the reduction of administration costs, the simplicity, a lot of issues. Now, it is also true that there are many companies, especially the largest ones, that have very large on-premises legacies. And making all this movement, this transition takes a long time in the form of structured migration projects that must be properly planned.
[MCPRO] But in these multicloud environments we are also seeing repeated on-premises errors, such as more complexity, siled data…
[José María Alonso] Of course, that is precisely one of Snowflake’s key elements: its data cloud. The data cloud is neither more nor less than the definition by nature of what those collaboration structures between clouds and those collaboration structures between data are.
I think that the simplification of all this is to have elements that allow this data sharing to be really effective and be really efficient between the different elements. And that is one of the great proposals that Snowflake has, due to the way in which our technology is precisely conceived. It allows data sharing that is truly unique without having to copy the data from one place to another, but the data is only stored in one place and from there with a series of features such as Zero-Copy-Cloning, it allows make data sharing very simple.
In the end, you can go to the cloud in many ways. The goal, like what we tell customers, is not just going to the cloud. In the end, the cloud is another place to store or compute or to carry out data management. The question is who do you go to the cloud with and how do you go to the cloud and why do you go to the cloud. And what we are proposing to all our clients is not so much the infrastructure itself, but what can be done with that data infrastructure.
We also propose business objectives within the organizations themselves, either for vertical issues or for issues, let’s say, transversal of the technology itself: inventories, integration of the supply chain itself, store management, a series of other issues. focused on things that can be done. In that sense, Snowflake has a lot to gain because when it comes to differentiating ourselves, there are many things that can be done with Snowflake in the cloud, to serve those business use cases that cannot be done with other technologies. .
[MCPRO] Snowflake is currently only available in a public cloud mode.
[José María Alonso] That is, only in the public cloud, with support for the three most important clouds but as I said before, with the possibility of separating the data layer, which can be in more than one cloud or within the same cloud in different regions or For example, they can create recovery systems in different clouds to better optimize backup systems in the event of a disaster…etc. And at the moment there are no plans to take our technology to a private cloud… at least not in the short term.
[MCPRO] A few days ago Snowflake acquired Snowconvert. How is this new purchase going to help you continue to progress?
[José María Alonso] It is a technology that we have already been using in some cases as partners and it is a company that will effectively facilitate the migration automation and the management of complexities that exist when planning the migration of on-premises systems to Snowflake in cloud. What we intend with this acquisition is to reduce the time required and the cost at the end of these projects.
[MCPRO] And to finish… what would you say are the best practices for data management in Snowflake?
[José María Alonso] First It is necessary to determine what it is that we want to achieve with Snowflake, since as I said, by being able to separate the computing layer from the storage, it makes it easier to carry out a series of developments independently.
We can assign workloads differently for different groups of users, and different developments, which nevertheless use the same data set. By making a clear initial definition of what the data and the projects to be carried out have to be, we will make the subsequent use of the platform much better.
It is also interesting to be clear about the data model that we are going to use (data warehouse, data science, data engineering…) since Snowflake can help a lot when it comes to simplifying all those data models or even the development of applications. In short, the fundamental thing is to make a good definition of what data I want to have inside of Snowflake and what I want to use that data for.