Skip to Content

This big data startup is as unique as a snowflake

Ice Crystal Snowflake closeupIce Crystal Snowflake closeup

It’s often said that no two snowflakes are the same—each snowflake is unique.

That saying is apt for Snowflake Computing, a San Mateo-based startup that is trying to carve for itself a niche in the world of big data.

The startup, which on Tuesday will announce a new $45 million round of funding, is selling a cloud-based data service called a data warehouse. It is basically a giant digital repository that companies can unload all their information into.

Companies use data warehouses to not only store all their data, but also to analyze it in order to make better business decisions. Online marketers, for example, can load up their data about which web ads people click on and then analyze it to uncover historical trends about how their campaigns preformed.

Businesses currently have a variety of options to choose from when considering a data warehouse. Legacy technology companies like Oracle (ORCL), IBM (IBM), and Microsoft (MSFT) have their own offerings as well as newer companies like Cloudera and Hortonworks that have built their technology on top of a free open-source big data service called Hadoop.

What makes Snowflake stand out from the rest is the fact that it’s not based on Hadoop and was built with the cloud specifically in mind, according to Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia, a former Microsoft executive.

Snowflake’s data warehouse is hosted on Amazon (AMZN) Web Services, said Muglia. It is therefore different from the data warehouses sold by Oracle, for example, that were created to be run inside a company’s own data centers and have been retrofitted to work on the cloud, he said.

Muglia said cloud-based data warehouses are useful because the database is not limited by the constraints of a company’s own data centers. Business that want to unload more data can do so without having to buy additional storage hardware. Additionally, having access to Amazon’s cloud data centers allow them to capture data from all over the nation and integrate and correlate the data quicker than if it was just coming into a company’s lone data center.

Muglia claims that the Snowflake data warehouse will let businesses analyze their data faster than if they were to use a hot new open source data-processing service called Spark. Snowflake offers a “complete solution” rather than just a piece of data-processing technology that customers have to build data services around, Muglia said referring to how Spark is a data processing engine as opposed to software product that a user can subscribe to.

With the new funding round—led by Altimeter Capital along with Redpoint Ventures, Sutter Hill Ventures, and Wing Venture Capital —Snowflake now has taking in $71 million in investment. The company has 75 employees.

For more on big data, check out the following Fortune video: