Snowflake’s Frank Slootman explains on-premises shift, SaaS model, and vision for data networking

Snowflake’s Frank Slootman explains on-premises shift, SaaS model, and vision for data networking

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In May, Snowflake Inc. surprised much of the enterprise computing world with the announcement that it would partner with Dell Technologies Inc. to ease access to on-premises data. The news represented an abrupt departure from Snowflake’s previous insistence that it would remain singularly focused on the public cloud.

What changed? A chance meeting between Snowflake Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Frank Slootman (pictured) and Michael Dell, chairman and CEO at Dell, apparently led to Snowflake’s change of heart.

“It started with a conversation I had with Michael Dell,” Slootman said. “Michael’s a smart, engaging guy, always looking for opportunity. We can virtualize Dell object storage as if it’s S3 storage, and Snowflake in its analytical processing will just reference that data because to us it just looks like a file that’s sitting on S3. We had some starts and restarts, because it’s just naturally not an easy thing to conceive of, but in the end it makes a lot of sense.”

Slootman spoke with theCUBE industry analyst Dave Vellante at Snowflake Summit, during an exclusive broadcast on theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio. They discussed the evolving role of the Data Cloud, how Snowflake manages a SaaS model and the company’s opportunity to change entire industries. (* Disclosure below.)

Data networking becomes core

Snowflake’s on-premises shift makes sense when measured against the company’s vision of the evolving enterprise data ecosystem. Snowflake’s Data Cloud offers a platform for companies seeking to leverage software in service of the application. The result is to create an easier path for data networking.

“The net effect is we drastically lowered the barrier to entry into the world of software,” Slootman said. “If you and I work in different companies and want to create a secure, compliant data network with a connection between us, it would take forever to get our lawyers to agree. It’s like a matter of minutes to set it up if we’re both on Snowflake. Data networking is becoming the core ecosystem in the world of computing.”

Snowflake has experienced a nearly 66% decline in its share value since the start of 2022 and issued what investors viewed as a disappointing financial forecast last month. Snowflake indicated there was a clear slowdown in spending by some of its largest customers. Asked about whether the company’s consumption-based model could be a factor in slowing growth and forecasted weaker financial results, Slootman noted Snowflake’s differences with SaaS businesses.

“We’re a SaaS model in the sense that it is software as a service, but it is not a SaaS model in the sense that we don’t sell use rights,” Slootman said. “We still do a contract the exact same way a SaaS vendor does, but we don’t recognize the revenue ratably. We recognize the revenue based on the consumption. Over the term of the contract, we recognize the entire amount; it just is not neatly organized in these monthly buckets.”

At this month’s Summit, Snowflake launched a new type of workload that combined transactional and analytic data in a single platform and introduced streaming data support in private preview. The company’s focus on continuing to enhance its data portfolio underscores a steadfast belief in its role to impact entire industries.

“The day you go from ‘I have a lot of data, I have these outcomes, and then do me a miracle in the middle,’ well, that’s where we come in,” Slootman said. “How do we run a supply chain, or healthcare, or cybersecurity? They are being redefined as data problems and data challenges, and they have data solutions. The promise is extraordinary; we can change whole industries, like pharma and healthcare, through the effects of data.”

Here’s the complete video interview, part of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the Snowflake Summit:

(* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Snowflake Summit event. Neither Snowflake, the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE

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