I joined Snowflake Computing because I love being a part of a world-class team that is using technology to solve hard business problems. Throughout my career, I have focused on creating platforms that enable new generations of applications. But early on, I started by building the applications themselves. My first job in the tech industry was in 1979, building business applications on Z-80 microprocessor systems using Condor, a pre-SQL relational database. Throughout the 1980’s, I built applications using the ISAM and Codasyl databases that were common at that time.
I started building platform technology when I joined Microsoft in January of 1988 as the first technical guy on SQL Server. I vividly remember doing our first public demo of the product in New York when we announced our distribution partnership with Ashton-Tate. This brought three technology companies together – Microsoft, Sybase, and Ashton-Tate, all backing the product I was responsible for delivering. That initial demo in New York was of a character-mode terminal using a client-server protocol to talk to an OS/2 SQL Server. “Look, I issued the select statement and the rows came back over the network! Isn’t that amazing?”
In 1988 it was. At that time, the idea of using a client-server SQL database on a PC was revolutionary. And while it would take a few years for this technology to mature, in the 1990’s, the combination of x86 servers, Windows NT, and SQL Server changed the business landscape by enabling departments and small business to solve problems that in the past cost a lot more and were only available to large IT organizations. I was very fortunate to be a part of this revolution.
Things have changed a lot since then. We’ve seen the emergence of business intelligence and data warehousing. These tools have provided unprecedented insight into business, enabling data-driven decision-making. More recently, the dual trends of mobility and the cloud are enabling entirely new types of solutions. Cloud services generate vast repositories of data that can reveal usage patterns and customer preference far beyond what was possible before. The need to gain insight into this data is more important than ever.
Customers are seeking these solutions. Hosting an old, on-premise data warehouse in the cloud is one answer. But these systems were not designed for the distributed cloud and that limits their usefulness. On the other hand, “Big Data” solutions using tools like Hadoop are useful for the problems they were designed for—but they aren’t designed for data warehousing. Bolting SQL onto Hadoop is not the answer.
The ultimate opportunity to gain business insight into modern applications is to build a platform service that was designed from the start to bring data warehousing, the cloud, and semi-structured data together. This is what we’re creating at Snowflake Computing – the database that reimagines data warehousing as a cloud service.
The Snowflake cloud service will unleash a new level of business insight for everyone in companies both large and small. Stay tuned; I promise you it will be worth waiting for.