back to article Muglia's monster Snowflake in quarter-of-a-billion-dollar funding blizzard

Data Warehouser in the cloud Snowflake has just raised $263.5m, eight months after raising $105m, making it a startup monster with a unicorn valuation of $1.5bn. Since being founded in 2012 it has raised a total of $473m. Ex-Microsoft senior exec Bob Muglia became CEO in 2014 and the funding history has been meteoric since …

  1. Milton

    Pros and Cons

    DW has arguably a much better justification for "cloud" than most other things: it really can require tonnes of storage space and oodles of CPU power, and insofar as some "clouds" offer flexibility to firewall the throttles sometimes, and at others merely cruise, that does have benefits not so easily or cost-effectively replicated on-prem.

    So for once I'm not entirely sceptical of "cloud" as use-case or value for money.

    That said, for all the lovely Pros of power and flexibility, there 's the usual mammoth Con of security. DW feeds BI (business intelligence) systems helping companies figure out important stuff about products, customers, patterns, trends, clusters, an awful lot of which quickly goes beyond merely feeding traffic lights on some cubicle fauna's PowerPoint deck and becomes knowledge supporting competitive advantage. In short, DWs can hold crown jewels. There's actually not much point making the investment in them if they don't.

    So whatever these guys are up to, are they seriously addressing the question of data security, privacy, confidentiality etc? Directors eager to "save money" (trans: get bonuses) do not think properly about security when hypnotised by the prospect of cash, but I suspect that this is an issue that's just going to get more and more airtime and generate increasing amounts of worry. Stuff like homomorphic encryption is nowhere near prime-time usefulness, "clouds" are simply not as secure as providers would have you believe, and you're gonna trust those guys to host data which, potentially, explains and enables your business's key competitive advantages?

    Think hard. Think long.

    PS: I always put "cloud" in quotes because it's a stupid name for what it does, beloved only of marketurds—though admittedly not quite such a flat-out lie as "AI".

    1. averros

      Re: Pros and Cons

      The real question about security is not whether cloud-based DW is "secure". Nothing is absolutely secure. The question is whether it is secured as well or better than on-premises DWs, and the answer to that is "yes". First of all, enterprise SaaS vendors have more resources to spend on security, and can attract highly qualified security personnel (the expense is amortized across many customers). Secondly, cloud SaaS vendors are painfully aware that security is the major concern, so they design their software with security in mind from the day one. Which is quite different from how the conventional enterprise software is designed (the vendors just assume that security is something firewalls and LDAP servers would take care of).

      In case of Snowflake, it encrypts everything. All data (table data, staged ingested and unloaded data, temporary files, etc) and all network communications across both WAN and datacenter LANs are encrypted. The only time data appears in unencrypted form is in memory when it is being processed. The key management follows best practices, and you can even opt for keeping master keys in hardware security module - so that even Snowflake staff won't have access to the data. It has extensive authentication and authorization infrastructure (2FA? Here. Role-based access controls? Here. Federation with customer's own authorization? Here.) This all is backed up by the robust and constantly tested organizational and operational security, and has a slew of security certifications. No on-premises DW comes close security-wise.

      If you contact Snowflake, they will tell you exactly what they do to secure your data.

      (In the interest of transparency: I was a software engineer at Snowflake before I left to start my own company, so I know what I'm talking about.)

  2. Gunboat Diplomat


    It's not much better than AWS Redshift. Not sure why it is valued so highly.

POST COMMENT House rules

Not a member of The Register? Create a new account here.

  • Enter your comment

  • Add an icon

Anonymous cowards cannot choose their icon

Other stories you might like