Vimal Venkatram, MD-India at Snowflake on how the company’s data cloud is helping data-driven decision-making.
Founded in 2012, data cloud provider Snowflake continues to reach where the data is—from one region to multiple regions, to multiple clouds.
Vimal Venkatram, Managing Director-India, Snowflake, in this conversation with ET Insights, shares how the company is enabling enterprises across sectors to unlock data value, and how its cross-cloud technology layer, Snowgrid, is shaping new capabilities. Edited excerpts:
Q. How has your business evolved in India? How are you helping enterprises capture the value of data, and what is the Snowflake differentiator?
We have witnessed rapid growth in cloud adoption across sectors, right from digital natives (startups) to large enterprises. All of them are realising the cost and operational benefits of moving to the cloud. Being based out of Singapore, I have a bird’s eye view of the ASEAN market, and I also understand the other markets in the Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ). India is well placed when you compare it with any other region, especially in the APJ market, when we think of cloud and data and analytics services.
Whether one is a digital native business or a traditional enterprise, each one wants to be data-driven today. This is a key theme throughout. Businesses want to derive insights from their data, and this is where we differentiate.
Q. How are you helping enterprises identify efficiencies at scale and providing them with the ability to enrich data from any source and location?
Irrespective of industry, everyone is looking at the cloud now. They are looking at the power of data analytics to really change the organisation’s culture. We call it data democratisation. Data enrichment is an integral part here. Only with quality data can one gain valuable business insights and make right decisions.
From a data enrichment perspective, we allow customers the ability to merge even third-party data sets with existing customer data. This would provide organisations with more granular data on existing customers and new businesses, for instance.
Soon, enterprise users will also be publishing data applications directly on Snowflake Data Exchange and Snowflake Marketplace. They can browse an external data catalog to acquire new data sets over multiple different verticals, like financial services; retail; media and entertainment, etc. This will help eliminate several tasks that data engineers needed to perform to optimise the Snowflake Marketplace. This is what will drive the entire process of data enrichment for many of our customers. The result will be faster and easier setup, reducing deployment time.
Q. You spoke about data democratisation that will allow the free flow of data from the hands of a few experts into the hands of employees for business success. This democratisation is not easy. What challenges do you see here?
For a ‘born in the cloud’ company, the problems are slightly less as compared to a traditional enterprise with a large data center and hundreds of applications. Businesses already on the cloud are more agile than many others.
We allow these customers to enrich their data using third-party data sets and then finally be able to offer insights to a lot of those downstream. For example, they could share the data, one-to-one, one-to-many with their own customers or external customers as well.
The challenge for many enterprises is identifying the pain points and creating a clear data strategy plan with a strict and short timeline. Having a platform in place is not the end state, it’s just the starting state. Many of our customers say that the challenge is not the first 10 use cases. The challenge is once these 10 use cases are done, how quickly can one adopt them and move to, let’s say 100 new use cases. That’s really our power. There is no point in doing 24-month projects. We can offer value, in a matter of weeks, if not days. For us, time to value is critical.
Q. Enterprises have a diverse cloud landscape, using more than one cloud instance. At Data Cloud World Tour 2022 there was an announcement to advance cross-cloud capabilities with Snowgrid. What is Snowgrid and what does it aim to achieve?
Snowflake is available globally on all three large public cloud providers, viz. AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. In India, we were available on AWS as early as May 2020. Last year we increased our presence in India by enabling general availability on Microsoft Azure Pune region in India. The expansion builds on our commitment to customers by providing closer proximity to their data and upholding and maintaining data governance. This really enhances options for customers who may want to adopt a multi-cloud strategy but keep their entire data ecosystem consistent across both hyperscalers.
We have many customers globally who are using Snowflake both on AWS and Azure, and this cross-cloud replication and seamless movement of data at the click of a button is what we call Snowgrid. It is our cross-cloud technology layer that allows enterprises to share live, ready-to-query data—along with data services and applications—across clouds and across regions. However, I want to add that this offering is by-choice. It is not mandatory for users to move data between hyperscalers.
Q. What have been some of your key wins? Any specific sector that you will focus on this year?
We are spread across verticals. We have companies like BYJU’s, Marico, Swiggy, Piramal Finance, Godrej Capital, Kissflow, Broadcast Audience Research Council, Cars24, etc. using Snowflake.
Public sector companies will be a key focus area for us this year. We want to showcase how PSUs can use the power of data to modernise and improve customer and citizen services.