Snowflake Launches Data Warehouse on Azure, Despite MS's Own DW

A data warehouse built specifically for the cloud is now available on Microsoft’s cloud computing platform—even though Microsoft already has a data warehouse of its own.

Here’s a business situation to think about: What if on a hot summer day your kid had a lemonade stand on a busy corner and was selling plenty of cool drinks. Then a friend asks if he can set up his own drink stand on the same corner, in direct competition to your kid’s business.

Your kid says yes. He had better be pretty confident that his product was of higher quality, or he might be out of business in little or no time. (You might be too, if you are the financier!)

That analogy is similar to what San Mateo, Calif.-based Snowflake Computing is doing right now. Snowflake has developed a new-gen data warehouse built specifically for the cloud, and on July 12 it announced immediate availability of its data warehouse-as-a-service on Microsoft Azure for preview.

This is an interesting development, because like those two competing lemonade stands, Microsoft Azure already has a SQL database-powered data warehouse available in its cloud. That service became available back in 2016.

Face-to-Face Competition--in the Same Cloud

“That’s true; we do compete right on Azure against Microsoft’s own data warehouse,” Snowflake Vice-President of Cloud Christian Kleinerman told eWEEK. “It’s unusual, but customer demand for Azure, and the need for large organizations to have flexibility across their cloud strategy, has helped dictate this decision for us. We’re following what our customers want; Microsoft is okay with this as an option, because there is so much demand for (cloud-based) warehouses now.

“It’s all about customer choice, and we’re giving them choices.”

Most of Snowflake’s customers are far along in their cloud journeys–and some are still making plans–but the vast majority of prospective customers it sees all have multicloud as a strategy, Kleinerman told eWEEK.

“Even though they may have an affinity or preference for one the three (major) cloud vendors, usually they want to have something that’s portable across clouds, or they can have multiple workloads across clouds,” Kleinerman said. “So the significance of what we’re doing is we are the only data warehouse vendor that is supporting across clouds.”

How Nielsen Uses the Platform

Nielsen, the global measurement and data analytics company that is most well known for its television ratings system, built its next-generation connected system as a cloud-native platform on Snowflake.

“We strongly believe that advancements in computing will happen more rapidly in the cloud. We are proactively building the future of our business by leveraging Snowflake and Microsoft Azure,” Nielsen Buy CTO Srini Varadarajan said in a media advisory.

Nielsen’s connected system operates on large volumes of global, retail, point-of-sale data to produce analytics that enable FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) and retail companies around the world to achieve sustained growth.

“Organizations continue to move their data analytics to the cloud at an increasing pace, with the cloud data warehouse at the core of their strategy,” Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia, himself a former longtime Microsoft exec, said. “Customer demand for an Azure-based data warehouse is also on the rise. We’re working with Microsoft to provide the performance, concurrency and flexibility that Azure customers require from a modern, cloud-built data warehouse.”

Key Capabilities

Snowflake provides a true new-gen data warehouse built for using all of the capabilities of the cloud. Key features include:

  • All of your data: Create a single source of truth to easily store, integrate and extract critical insight from petabytes of structured and semi-structured data (JSON, XML, AVRO).
  • All of your users: Provide access to an architecturally unlimited number of concurrent users and applications without eroding performance.
  • Zero management:  Snowflake reduces complexity with built-in performance, so there’s no infrastructure to tweak, no knobs to turn and no tuning required.
  • Complete SQL database:  Snowflake supports the tools millions of business users already know how to use today.
  • Per-second pricing: Snowflake’s built-for-the-cloud architecture scales storage separate from compute, up and down, transparently and automatically, so you only pay for what you use.
  • Data sharing: Snowflake extends the data warehouse to the Data Sharehouse™, with direct, governed and secure data sharing in real time, so enterprises can easily forge one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many data sharing relationships.

For more information about Snowflake on Azure, go here to read Muglia’s blog post. For a technical review of Snowflake on Azure, go here. 

Chris Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger

Chris J. Preimesberger is Editor-in-Chief of eWEEK and responsible for all the publication's coverage. In his 13 years and more than 4,000 articles at eWEEK, he has distinguished himself in reporting...