Why did Snowflake acquire Streamlit?

Existing Snowflake customers would be able to leverage Streamlit’s app development framework to use data with Snowflake Data Cloud.
Snowflake acquires Streamlit

Data cloud company Snowflake has announced that it will be acquiring Streamlit. Latter is a framework to simplify and accelerate the development of data applications. This deal, currently valued at $800 million, is at a very preliminary stage and subject to regulatory approvals and customary closing conditions.

Snowflake-Streamlit: A good match

The two companies would be working together to help developers build apps with simplified data access and governance. Existing Snowflake customers would be able to leverage Streamlit’s app development framework to use data with Snowflake Data Cloud. Streamlit customers, on the other hand, will now have access to ‘trusted and secure’ data for their applications.

Founded in 2018 by Adrien Treuille, Amanda Kelly, and Thiago Teixeira, the California-headquartered Streamlit offers an open-source framework to build and share apps quickly. Streamlit has over 8 million downloads, and 1.5 million applications have been built using this framework.

Streamlit’s motivation was to make building tools as easy as writing Python scripts. Instead of offering a one-size-fits-all tool, Streamlit creates Lego-like capabilities which users can join together to suit their needs. Streamlit treats widgets as variables, and every interaction reruns the script from top to bottom. The product deploys apps directly from private Git repos and updates on commits.

Co-founder and president of products at Snowflake, Benoit Dageville, said that with this partnership, Snowflake would be able to offer even non-technical users to interact with data and build apps. Until now, Snowflake had tools for accessing and managing technical data but lacked a data visualisation platform; with Streamlit, that fills the void.

Where is Snowflake going?

In September 2020, San Mateo-headquartered Snowflake raised $3.36 billion in its initial public offering. At that time, it was the biggest US listing of the year, surpassing the previous best IPO of Royalty Pharma. Snowflake’s IPO was a rebound for the US stock market when a lot of companies had put a hold on IPO due to the pandemic.

Snowflake makes virtual machines available to anyone on the public cloud platform. Despite facing stiff competition from companies like Oracle, SQL Server, Amazon Redshift, and Google BigQuery, Snowflake continues to hold its ground.

The multi-cloud feature of Snowflake that makes cloud data warehousing useful for its clients is its differentiating factor. Snowflake uses scalable cloud blob storage that is available in AWS, Azure or GCP. It offers reliability and scalability by utilising distributed storage systems. Its architecture cloud data warehouse can process massive volumes of data with a high degree of efficiency. This unique architecture makes Snowflake suitable for a wide range of applications – streamlining data ingestion and integration, data warehousing, and streamlining data science workloads. 

As of January 2021, Snowflake has over 4,000 customers, including 186 from the Fortune 500 list. The company has a free-to-join marketplace called Snowflake Data Exchange, where customers can connect with data providers and get access to an additional data stream.

Snowflake and open source

Most developers would prefer a third-party vendor to manage their database, provided factors like safety and reliability are taken into account. This explains why developers might prefer cloud over open source, even as the latter is a great way to build software and, in turn, foster a community.

That said, companies like Snowflake continue to be undefeated largely by their open-source counterparts. In an interesting blog on the company’s website titled ‘Choose open wisely’, authors write that Snowflake believes in ‘open where open matters’. It means that while the company values open standards and open source but would not trade it off for ease of use, transparent optimisations, and continuous improvements. “Some companies tout being open and pride themselves on being open source, but in reality, their embrace is not 100%; as described in this document, there are good reasons dictating such departures. Our goal is to be clear and transparent about how we think about these topics at Snowflake and to dispel myths and misconceptions,” the authors write. Snowflake’s adamancy on remaining in a closed environment has irked stakeholders in the past.

This makes one think about the future of Streamlit with its latest acquisition. Streamlit, until now, has been a completely open-source platform. What lies ahead needs to be seen.

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Shraddha Goled
I am a technology journalist with AIM. I write stories focused on the AI landscape in India and around the world with a special interest in analysing its long term impact on individuals and societies. Reach out to me at shraddha.goled@analyticsindiamag.com.

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