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Alation adds Snowflake service, updates data catalog

The vendor launched the Alation Cloud Service for Snowflake designed to enable Snowflake users to more easily use Alation's data intelligence capabilities.

Data catalog platform vendor Alation on Tuesday launched a new service designed to make it easier for Snowflake Data Cloud users to catalog data.

Alation also released an update to its data catalog that provides users with enhanced data governance capabilities.

The Alation Cloud Service (ACS) for Snowflake is the first time the data catalog vendor has provided a purpose-built offering for a specific cloud data service.

Alation has offered public cloud services since 2021 that provide managed services for its data catalog. The new Snowflake service is different in that it is specifically tailored to catalog data in the Snowflake Data Cloud.

The Snowflake specific service provides a subset of capabilities from Alation's namesake platform, with the new update expanding on features introduced in the vendor's 2022.2 data catalog update for data governance.

Alation competes against multiple vendors in the data catalog niche including Collibra and Ataccama.

The Alation Cloud Service for Snowflake is an interesting move for Alation, said IDC analyst Stewart Bond.

This is the first time Alation will be offering a free trial edition of a service. It is also the first time the service will be available at a lower price point than Alation Enterprise, making it more cost effective for smaller organizations, Bond said.

"ACS for Snowflake is restricted to cataloging Snowflake only, and it does not have all enterprise-level features and functions available because most are not needed with the restricted scope," Bond said.

Why Alation built a data catalog service for Snowflake

The new service is a purpose-built application that lets users launch Alation directly from Snowflake's administration console.

Alation Cloud Service for Snowflake is restricted to cataloging Snowflake only, and it does not have all enterprise-level features and functions available because most are not needed with the restricted scope.
Stewart BondAnalyst, IDC

Before the service, if an organization wanted to use Alation with Snowflake, the process to get the services connected was more cumbersome, said Alation CEO Satyen Sangani. An organization had to interact with an Alation enterprise sales representative and then work with Alation's professional services to connect the data services.

With the new service, Alation will now automatically ingest all the data from an organization's Snowflake instances.

"There was a lot of work that we had to do to build the ease of use and the instrumentation for this service," Sangani said.

The Snowflake service is limited to data residing on Snowflake. For users looking for a broader multi-cloud approach, Sangani noted that the core Alation Enterprise platform provides connectors to different data services, including Amazon Redshift and Databricks.

Alation 2022.3 expands data catalog capabilities

At the foundation of the new Snowflake offering is the Alation 2022.3 data catalog, which now includes a multi-tenant backplane for cloud services. A backplane is the software infrastructure layer that enables the Snowflake service to elastically scale up and meet requirements as usage grows.

"The new multi-tenant backplane means that customers just literally don't have to care about anything related to scalability as all of that is literally taken care of by Alation," he said.

The new release also includes improvements to the Alation Compose query editor, which provides a programmatic way for users to search for data. Users can now schedule more customized and easier to compose queries using the Alation dashboard.

The data catalog update also provides data governance improvements, including the ability to trace data lineage across data sources down to the column level. Data governance workflows also get a boost, adding more automation for approval workflows around data use.

"With data governance, a lot of what people want to know is that it's approved and what people are doing with the data because they want an audit trail," Sangani said. "Now with our data governance capability, we're just making that a lot easier, and we're doing a lot of automation work to make it more efficient than it has been historically, which has just been a lot of manual settings."

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