In the recently released Sense Corp eBook, Ten Steps to Data Literacy, we discuss not only the fundamentals of data literacy concepts, but also the importance of creating a culture around data in today’s business environment. It’s a topic that resonates with companies regardless of size, industry, or IT experience, and it’s something about which we at Sense Corp seek to evangelize every chance we get. Now, with the emergence of the Snowflake Cloud Data Warehousing Platform and Data Marketplace, we can provide our clients a solution that directly feeds their data literacy culture while optimizing their data management processes.
Snowflake is a unique solution that allows organizations to store vast amounts of data in a single, centralized, cloud-based repository and instantly share it with other groups safely and securely without creating additional versions of the dataset. It was launched in 2014 as an alternative to on-premises data warehousing constructs and first-generation cloud platforms, becoming the first data warehouse-as-a-service (DWaaS) platform engineered from the ground up for cloud operation. Because it was born in the cloud, Snowflake offers a unique architecture that allows organizations to separate their storage and computing layers and instantly scale each of them independently.
This architectural design has proven Snowflake to be among the most flexible, scalable, and cost-effective solutions on the market, competing directly with first-generation platforms such as Google BigQuery and Amazon Redshift. The platform now connects to all three of the market’s largest cloud platforms (Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform), and after signing a massive deal with Salesforce and launching a series of integrations to allow Salesforce customers to better utilize its big data processing and migration capabilities, Snowflake is positioned as a key player in the future of cloud data management.
As organizations attempt to navigate this future and begin their journey toward a data-oriented culture, they must invest in the tools that will help get them there – and Snowflake is clearly one of those tools. But beyond its several advantages in terms of flexibility and architecture, this platform offers two key products that could significantly change the way organizations use and share data: Snowflake Secure Data Sharing and the Snowflake Data Marketplace.
Secure Data Sharing: Freeing Data for Speed, Security, and Saliency
When building a data-oriented culture, it’s important to realize that providing access to fresh, relevant, and reliable data is something that needs to be realized not only in the executive boardroom, but across the entire organization when the needs require. Traditional processes for sharing data within an organization may require multiple functions (e.g. raising a support ticket, providing data request requirements, reviewing tables in the data store, exporting the data) that often result in less-than-ideal scenarios, including:
- Data duplication, which can cause security issues or conflict between datasets;
- Stale data, as the export is not updated automatically;
- Slow delivery time, due to the user-provisioning process; and/or
- Unnecessary access provisioning, due to a lack of row-level security control.
These scenarios can severely limit a CIO’s ability to manage the flow of data throughout the organization. Reducing the friction in this process and centralizing control of the data allows for data to move more smoothly, more quickly, and without unnecessary risk. This is where Snowflake Secure Data Sharing comes into play.
Snowflake Secure Data Sharing streamlines access to shared data by hosting and providing secure access to data in one centralized repository, eliminating the need for duplicate versions. Where traditional on-prem data-sharing systems take snapshots of the original data, allowing them to become stale and inaccurate over time, Snowflake Secure Data Sharing provides secure, row-level access to the original data, ensuring accuracy as it is updated in real time. With it, developers can share with users only the data they need, giving them specific credentials for quick and easy access.
Not only does Snowflake Secure Data Sharing help develop a healthy culture of data within an organization, it can also be applied between organizations. Consider what happens when government agencies need to react with a rapid, coordinated response to a public emergency. Historically, these agencies have been reluctant to share data with one another due to concerns over data security and control. However, Snowflake has demonstrated compliance with some of the most stringent data encryption and security standards and has also achieved FedRAMP Authorization, indicating that the cloud infrastructure has met the security standards required for use by the federal government. With Snowflake Secure Data Sharing, operations that require coordinated responses across several agencies – especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic – could be executed faster and more confidently than ever before.
“Right now, it’s all-hands-on-deck regarding the public response,” said Dane Sauceda, technical project manager and Snowflake SME at Sense Corp. “Being able to share the data you have between health care networks, pharmaceutical researchers, labor agencies, law enforcement, and policy makers is critical in times like these. If they could each share their data immediately upon being gathered, without friction or security issues, it would be extremely valuable to the public.”
Data Marketplace: Leveraging Existing Datasets for Optimized Decision-Making
Another valuable feature is the Snowflake Data Marketplace, which allows users to access and query existing datasets with massive amounts of publicly available data or create new datasets for external sharing. With this unique data exchange, users can access vast amounts of published data and leverage it for any business purpose. Because the data is stored on Snowflake’s secure cloud infrastructure, the marketplace can create a “pointer” to the original data, rather than importing a copy of the data into the user’s Snowflake environment and driving up storage costs.
There are thousands of use cases for leveraging the Snowflake Data Marketplace, considering it can provide access to some of the most comprehensive datasets available. For example, business strategists can plug current U.S. Census data into their own databases, allowing them to leverage a wide range of demographic data from any area in the U.S. Best of all, the data in the Snowflake Data Marketplace is publicly available and at no additional cost beyond the standard Snowflake computing fees when querying any set of data.
Snowflake: The Future of Cloud Data Sharing?
The way in which Snowflake eliminates barriers to how businesses gather, share, and leverage data allows it to fit rather well with the concept of building a data-driven culture within an organization. Its ability to tie into virtually any existing platform provides an agnostic approach to cloud computing, and its capacity for enhanced processing speed and flexibility make it a popular and cost-effective choice among both private- and public-sector entities.
In addition, the more Snowflake expands into product and technology offerings, the more likely it will become a significant part of the Sense Corp arsenal for advising clients on the data services that work best for them and help them develop a more data-literate business culture.
“If you want to create a culture in which data is valued, then you would want technologies that enable you to be true to that culture and follow the same philosophy,” said Sauceda. “Snowflake allows you to be flexible, forthright, and efficient with every aspect of your data, and that can be key to achieving your vision of a data-driven corporate culture.”
Sense Corp is a leading professional services firm transforming organizations for the digital era. We help clients solve their toughest challenges by bridging the gap between what is and what’s possible. To learn more about the services we offer, contact us.