Snowflake, the cloud data warehouse, announced a partnership with Microsoft today to expand their offering to the Azure cloud. The new product is still in Preview for now.
Given that Snowflake CEO Bob Muglia worked at Microsoft for more than 20 years, it’s certainly not surprising that Microsoft is the company’s second partner after working with only Amazon since its inception. But Muglia says it was really about seeing customer demand in the marketplace more than any nostalgia or connections at Microsoft. In fact, he says the company is on boarding one to two new Azure customers a day right now.
The plan is to open up a private preview today, then become generally available some time in the fall when they work out all of the kinks involved with porting their service to another provider.
The partnership didn’t happen overnight. It’s been developing for over a year and that’s because Muglia says Azure isn’t quite as mature as Amazon in some ways and it required some engineering cooperation to make it all work.
“We had to work with Microsoft on some of the things that we needed to make [our product] work [on their platform], particularly around the way we work with Azure Blob Storage that we really had to do a little differently on Azure. So there are changes we needed to make internally in our product to make it work,” he explained.
Overall though the two company’s engineers have worked together to solve those issues and Muglia says that when the Azure version becomes generally available in the Fall, it should basically be the same product they offer on Amazon, although there are still some features they are trying to make work on in the Preview. “Our goal is to have literally the same product on Azure as on Amazon, and we are very confident we’ll get there with Microsoft,” he said.
For Snowflake of course, it represents a substantial market expansion because now they can sell to companies working on Azure and Amazon and that has opened up a whole new pipeline of customers. Azure is the number two cloud provider behind Amazon.
The interesting aspect of all this is that Amazon and Microsoft compete in the cloud of course, but Snowflake is also competing with each cloud provider too with their own product. Yet this kind of partnership has become standard in the cloud. You have to work across platforms, then compete where it makes sense.
“Almost all of the relationships that we have in the industry, we have some element of competition with them, and so this is a normal mode of operation,” he said.