Snowflake on Wednesday launched the Telecom Data Cloud, an industry-specific version of its platform tailored for telecommunications companies.
Founded in 2012 and now based in Bozeman, Mont., Snowflake is a data cloud vendor whose data warehouse is designed to enable customers to access and work with their data without requiring many of the extract, transform and load tasks that slow and complicate data management and analytics.
Its competition includes other data cloud vendors such as Databricks and SingleStore, along with tech giants including AWS, Google and Microsoft that offer cloud data storage repositories.
Telecom Data Cloud is Snowflake's fifth industry-specific tool, joining financial services; healthcare and life sciences; retail and consumer goods; and advertising, media and entertainment.
The primary advantage of such industry-specific versions of platforms is that they eliminate many of the tasks data engineers must perform to optimize a general-purpose platform for their specific organization, according to Doug Henschen, an analyst at Constellation Research.
The result is a faster and easier setup that reduces the time it takes to fully deploy.
"The common appeal of industry solutions has always been accelerating deployments with expertise and pre-built content geared to a specific industry and its common use cases," Henschen said. "That might mean providing industry data models, connectors to common applications and data sources, and knowledge of frequent integrations and query patterns that support common use cases."
As in most other industries, data volume is growing exponentially in the telecom industry, with streaming technology and the internet of things contributing significantly.
To address the growing data management needs of telecom companies, Snowflake's Telecom Data Cloud is a fully managed, cloud-based platform designed to unite the Snowflake data cloud, capabilities designed by Snowflake with partners in the telecom industry and data sets specific to the telecom industry.
Features that come with the new data cloud include the following:
- tools to consolidate disparate data with unified governance;
- scale to handle the storage and compute power required by users;
- collaboration capabilities aimed at making data management and analysis more efficient;
- advanced augmented intelligence and machine learning capabilities designed to enable users to schedule maintenance, reduce operational downtime and predict potential problems;
- access to Snowflake Marketplace where users can monetize applications they create; and
- access to a network of tools designed by Snowflake's partners.
Perhaps most significant are the collaboration capabilities, according to Phil Kippen, global head of industry for telecommunications at Snowflake.
Those collaboration capabilities include enabling users within the same organization to collaborate around their own data and also access third-party data through private exchanges for telecom service providers and data products built by Snowflake and its telecom industry partners.
"We're bringing a platform to market that is really focused around data collaboration," Kippen said. "What the telecom service provider community is going to be able to take advantage of is a [general-purpose] platform that has been matured and [augmented] to purpose it for service providers."
Telecom Data Cloud's launch comes about 11 months after the release of Retail Data Cloud, which was the fourth industry-specific version of Snowflake's platform.
Telecom's increasing complexity and the exponential growth in data created by telecom providers made it a logical target for specialized capabilities, according to Kippen.
In addition, like companies in many other industries where data comes in from varied sources, telecom providers suffer from data isolated within departments. Cloud data repositories such as Snowflake and its competitors enable organizations to bring all that data together where it can be governed and accessed by more than just a small group of users.
Doug HenschenAnalyst, Constellation Research
"Telecom is a hub -- or epicenter -- for innovation and disruption," Kippen said. "There are a lot of challenges that go with that. They're also trying to figure out how to collaborate with data because they're very siloed. So there are a lot of opportunities for us to help telecom service providers use data and monetize data."
Henschen, meanwhile, said Snowflake has been strategic to develop industry-specific data clouds to help the vendor stand out from its competition.
Among competitors, Databricks similarly offers industry-specific versions of its lakehouse platform, targeting many of the same industries Snowflake has identified. But other cloud data storage vendors have not developed tools designed to ease the burdens of cloud migration and data transformation by providing capabilities specific to an organization's industry.
"Vertical industry solutions have been around in the data warehousing and data science world for decades, but Snowflake's cloud data marketplace capabilities are a differentiator versus many vendors," Henschen said.
He added that Snowflake's strengths are its automation capabilities and ease of use for SQL users. When applied to industry-specific data clouds, those too are differentiators.
"That's something that appeals broadly across all verticals," Henschen said.
Beyond the launch of Telecom Data Cloud, Snowflake recently acquired Mobilize.net to more easily enable potential customers to migrate their data from on-premises to the cloud, launched an integration with UiPath to better enable process automation, and added updates to accelerate query performance and enable collaboration across multiple clouds.
One area in which Snowflake needs to improve relative to its peers is in its enablement of data science, according to Henschen.
The vendor released Snowpark, a platform for developers and data scientists, in 2020. But the platform is still evolving and relatively new compared with the data science capabilities of AWS and Google Cloud, among others.
"Snowpark is fairly new and green, and Snowflake relies mostly on partners for deep data science capabilities," Henschen said. "What's more, Snowflake can be an expensive platform on which to handle high-scale data engineering."
Kippen, meanwhile, noted that part of Snowflake's roadmap is to continue evolving its industry-specific data clouds.
That includes not only adding capabilities to the data clouds the vendor has already released and adding more industry-specific data clouds in the future, but also finding ways to enable collaboration among organizations in different industries that are using Snowflake's various industry-specific data clouds.
"As we start building out industries, we're trying to build complements," Kippen said. "What you'll see from us are a number of industries that work well together. You'll see us bring on more [industries], but we're not bringing them on purely to launch an industry. We're bringing them on because we feel there is value as these industries start to collaborate."
Eric Avidon is a senior news writer for TechTarget Editorial and is a journalist with more than 25 years of experience. He covers analytics and data management.