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Databricks unveils first industry-specific lakehouse

The cloud data vendor launched a new lakehouse designed for retail and consumer goods customers that includes blueprints and best practices.

Databricks unveiled a new lakehouse designed specifically for retail and consumer goods customers.

Databricks Lakehouse for Retail, made generally available on Jan. 13, is the first industry-specific analytics tool developed and released by Databricks.

Databricks, founded in 2013 and based in San Francisco, provides a cloud data platform that enables customers to query and analyze semi-structured data stored in its lakehouse. A lakehouse is a combination of a data warehouse and data lake, enabling users to make SQL queries like with a data warehouse within the flexibility of a data lake environment.

Retail applications

Using Databricks Lakehouse for Retail, customers will be able to access and query data using a tool that is tailored to address specific challenges faced by retailers, their partners and their suppliers. It comes with what Databricks terms accelerators, which are blueprints and best practices for how to solve certain problems, and it gets smarter over time with its machine learning capabilities.

Among its accelerators are real-time streaming data ingestion, demand and time-series forecasting, machine-learning-powered recommendations and customer lifetime value.

As the accelerators suggest, one particular benefit of the new industry-specific capability will be time savings, according to David Menninger, an analyst at Ventana Research.

This new offering will make it easier and faster for retail and consumer product goods organizations to get up and running with a lakehouse configuration.
David MenningerAnalyst, Ventana Research

"One of the challenges with most analytics and data technologies is that it takes a lot of work to create the data model and associated analyses to support a specific business process," he said. "This new offering will make it easier and faster for retail and consumer product goods organizations to get up and running with a lakehouse configuration."

Early adopters of Databricks Lakehouse for Retail include Walgreens, H&M Group and Restaurant Brands International, according to the vendor.

Luigi Guadagno, vice president of pharmacy and healthcare platform technology at Walgreens, said in a release the new capability will enable Walgreens to eliminate data silos and unify copious amounts of prescription data in one place for analytics and ML exploration and analysis.

Meanwhile, Ali Ghodsi, co-founder and CEO of Databricks, called the development of Databricks Lakehouse for Retail an important milestone as the vendor attempts to enable customers to make data-driven decisions in real time.

Databricks co-founder and CEO Ali Ghodsi.
Databricks co-founder and CEO Ali Ghodsi speaks at the vendor's 2019 user conference.

Notable vertical analytics platform

Databricks is not the first vendor to offer domain-specific tools for analytics, but the vendor's move is nevertheless significant, according to Menninger.

SAS is one analytics vendor that offers industry-specific capabilities with tools designed specifically for a host of applications, including agriculture, education, healthcare, sports and utilities, among others. Likewise, Oracle, which acquired electronic health records vendor Cerner in late 2021 to expand its healthcare presence, offers industry-specific analytics capabilities for automotive, government and education, hospitality and high tech, and others.

Still other smaller vendors are entirely geared at specific industries. For example, Soundcharts offers an analytics platform devoted to the music industry, while Cinelytic and Cinema Intelligence have developed platforms geared toward the movie business.

Snowflake, meanwhile, recently launched a data cloud specifically for financial services.

Early entrant

If there is a surprise related to Databricks' release of a lakehouse specifically for retail and consumer goods customers, it's that Databricks developed and released the tool so soon, according to Menninger.

"Databricks' move is not really a surprise, although it seems a little early in their corporate evolution," he said. "However, from the beginning Databricks has focused on the long game, positioning themselves where they think the market is headed, not just where it is today. The real question will be whether this is a one-off or if it reflects a new corporate strategy."

While Databricks didn't divulge whether its lakehouse for retail and consumer goods customers will be the vendor's lone industry-specific tool or marks the beginning of a new approach to analytics, Databricks recently secured $1.6 billion in funding and at the time said it plans to use the funding to accelerate innovation.

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