When Marc Benioff popularized the term “cloud,” validated the Software-as-a-Service delivery model, and coined the phrase “No software” at Salesforce.com, he had a very distinct vision in mind. He saw a world where businesses were free from the time and expense of maintaining their own software. A world where teams could focus on ROI and adoption of technology, not building out infrastructure.

Snowflake’s recent success proves Benioff’s vision extends well beyond CRM into data management. Data warehouses and data lakes are the foundation of any data strategy. They’re also very complicated to set up and run. Snowflake is true cloud-native SaaS.  You never have to upgrade it or worry about scaling or infrastructure. Snowflake lets you focus on the important parts of data management—smooth ETL, data quality, good data modeling, etc. It’s time the same focus on ROI moved up your data management stack.

It’s no surprise that Snowflake’s success has led to copycats. We have seen a spike in data management vendors claiming they’re “cloud-native,” “cloud-friendly,” or “cloud compatible.” Even some of our competitors say this. But guess what: they’re wrong! 

In fact, data.world is the only cloud-native SaaS company listed in the latest Forrester Wave for Machine Learning Data Catalogs. And we debuted as the top-rated current offering. 

Let me explain what we mean by cloud-native and why it matters to you.

 

A turnkey service with no management burden

We started data.world to serve the true citizen data scientists in the open data community. We partnered with organizations like the US Census, Data for Democracy, and MakeoverMonday to make data accessible to the thousands of people in those respective communities. We’re the platform of choice for countless data science and analytics classes in higher education. In the process, we built the world’s largest collaborative data community.  

People working for the good of society, or to better their skills in their spare time, don’t have time to manage or deploy their own infrastructure. They are looking for a turnkey service that requires no maintenance. That’s the promise of a cloud-native data catalog and only data.world delivers.

 

Continuous innovation that drives adoption

Data cataloging and agile data governance are nascent product categories. At data.world, we want to lead organizations, and the world, in creating data-driven cultures. We’re learning so much every single day from our user community, both enterprise and open. We relentlessly measure and report on platform adoption, and everything we learn makes the platform more powerful, more agile, and better equipped to handle your users’ needs. 

Being truly cloud-native means that new features that drive deeper use, adoption, and collaboration get to users as soon as they’re available. For example, we’ve deployed more than 1,000 software updates in the last twelve months while our competition releases quarterly. Everything from small bug fixes to major features is available to everyone without wait or worry. When you’re focused on adoption, you can’t afford to wait on IT for an install, upgrade, or migration to get the latest a data catalog has to offer. Oh, and “planned downtime” is a thing of the past. 

 

Ability to scale at the pace of your business

A true cloud-native data catalog and governance solution means never having to worry about scale. You don’t need to understand the sizes or kinds of servers your catalog runs on. And you should never expect a separate bill for compute time on AWS or Azure to run your data catalog. This is a hidden cost of ownership that vendors who aren’t cloud-native often obscure in the sales process.

At data.world, our ops processes automatically scale your platform no matter the load to ensure this critical part of your data infrastructure never goes down. And because our customers never have to worry about uptime or performance, they can focus their energy on building a great data supply chain that actually works for users.

 

An open, standards-based ecosystem

A data catalog should be an information radiator for your data and analytics ecosystem. The best-of-breed cloud-native solutions in every software category recognize the importance of integration. These solutions have clear and usable APIs so you can plug them into other tools easily.  

We go even further than that at data.world, making sure that your data and metadata are machine-readable and truly portable. This helps you avoid vendor lock-in (all metadata in data.world is represented in a semantically enriched RDF format—a format that is a W3C standard for graph data). The bottom line is your data catalog should easily integrate into your data and analytics ecosystem, and we go above and beyond to make sure that it does.

 

Conclusion

Marc Benioff defined what it means to offer a cloud-native SaaS platform. Snowflake proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that offering critical pieces of data infrastructure in this same model is not only possible, it’s desirable. If you’re in the process of moving your data and analytics ecosystem to the cloud, beware imitators who claim to be cloud-native but don’t really offer the maintenance-free benefits described above. Don’t be fooled by companies that wrap their traditional offerings in AMIs, or offer containerized deployment options and call it “cloud.” 

Containerizing bits of existing infrastructure may make installation easier on AWS, Google Cloud (GCP), or Azure, but it doesn’t change the management or operations overhead. You still have to install it, manage it, upgrade it, maintain it, etc…. Do you really want to do that? 

Here are a few ways to cut through the cloud-native clutter to determine what’s real and what’s fluff. 

IF your vendor…

  • talks about releases in terms of weeks or months rather than hours, THEN they’re not cloud-native
  • explains how they handle migrations or upgrades, THEN they’re not cloud-native
  • brags about “minimal downtime,” during maintenance, THEN they’re not cloud-native
  • changes the subject or lists caveats when you want to talk about scale, THEN they’re not cloud-native
  • tells you to expect a separate bill from your cloud vendor, THEN they’re not cloud-native

If this sounds at all like your “cloud-native” solution, then it’s time to reconsider.