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Rick van der Lans

Welcome to my blog where I will talk about a variety of topics related to data warehousing, business intelligence, application integration, and database technology. Currently my special interests include data virtualization, NoSQL technology, and service-oriented architectures. If there are any topics you'd like me to address, send them to me at rick@r20.nl.

About the author >

Rick is an independent consultant, speaker and author, specializing in data warehousing, business intelligence, database technology and data virtualization. He is managing director and founder of R20/Consultancy. An internationally acclaimed speaker who has lectured worldwide for the last 25 years, he is the chairman of the successful annual European Enterprise Data and Business Intelligence Conference held annually in London. In the summer of 2012 he published his new book Data Virtualization for Business Intelligence Systems. He is also the author of one of the most successful books on SQL, the popular Introduction to SQL, which is available in English, Chinese, Dutch, Italian and German. He has written many white papers for various software vendors. Rick can be contacted by sending an email to rick@r20.nl.

Editor's Note: Rick's blog and more articles can be accessed through his BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel.

Database servers come in all sizes and shapes. In fact, so many database servers have already been developed the last fifty years, that it looks almost impossible to develop a revolutionary new one. But it can be done. The last few years have proven that by thinking out-of-the-box, new promising and unique products can be developed.

One of these new kids on the block is Snowflake Elastic Data Warehouse by Snowflake Computing. It's not available yet, we still have to wait until the first half of 2015, but information is available and beta versions can be downloaded.

Defining and classifying Snowflake with one term is not that easy. Not even with two terms. To start, it's a SQL database server that supports a rich SQL dialect. It's not specifically designed for big data environments (the word doesn't even appear on the website), but to develop large data warehouses. In this respect, it competes with other so-called analytical SQL database servers.

But the most distinguishing factor is undoubtedly that it's architected from the ground up to fully exploit the cloud. This means two things, one, it's not an existing SQL database server that has been ported to the cloud, but its internal architecture is designed specifically for the cloud. All the lines of codes are new, no existing open source database server is used and adapted. It makes Snowflake highly scalable and really elastic, which is why organizations turn to the cloud.

Second, it also means that the product can really be used as a service. It only requires a minimal amount of DBA work. So, the term service doesn't only mean that it offers a service-based API, such as REST or JDBC, but that the product has been designed to operate hassle-free. Almost all the tuning and optimization is done automatically.

In case you want to know, no, the name has no relationship with the data modeling concept called snowflake schema. The name snowflake has been selected because many of the founders and developers have a strong relationship with skiing and snow.

Snowflake is a product to keep an eye on. I am looking forward to its general availability. Let's see if there is room for another database server. If it's sufficiently unique, there may well be.


Posted October 29, 2014 2:20 AM
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