Bob Muglia is a tech executive with real pedigree. until he resigned in 2011, Muglia was known for managing divisions at Microsoft that supported the Microsoft Office Suite, Windows Server, and MSN Network product families. Muglia’s resignation from Microsoft (and subsequent replacement by Satya Nadella, who would go on to become the company’s CEO) is rumored to have been caused by friction between himself and the then CEO, Steve Ballmer.

In particular, it is rumored that the conflict was all about Microsoft’s intentions with regards the cloud. It’s hard to think it now, given Microsoft’s very real cloud-centricity, but back then cloud had been, at best, of mild interest within Redmond higher echelons. That has, of course, completely changed. Microsoft is now seen squarely as a real cloud vendor, but Muglia’s head (and the eventual head of his then-boss, Ballmer) were the price that had to be paid.

After he left Microsoft, Muglia had a brief and uninspiring tenure at Juniper, before ending up as CEO of Snowflake. Snowflake is all about taking traditional approaches towards data warehousing and moving them into the cloud era. Whereas traditionally data warehouses required lots of on-premises infrastructure and management, cloud data warehouses give the same degree of scale and performance, but in an “on demand” consumption model. Cheaper, more agile, quicker – that’s the promise that Snowflake brings to the data warehousing world.

Another well-seasoned player, needing to move to the future

Capital One is (admittedly at a stretch) somewhat analogous to Muglia’s own career path. A well-established bank, Capital One isn’t arrogant enough to think that it can rest on its laurels. Rather, it realizes that in order to compete with modern FinTech companies, it needs to reinvent itself – away from being simply a financial institution, and into being a Fintech player in its own rights. It is a similar challenge that banks across the globe face, I’ve written much in the past about what I call Banking 2.0, and the jury is very much out on whether these traditional players will survive the seismic shifts coming in the industry.

Partnering for joint success

And so today we see Capital one making a strategic investment in Snowflake as a key driver of its own transformation. While Capital one could have simply signed a supply agreement if it was looking for a cloud-based data warehouse offering, this is as much as being able to share in Snowflake’s agile DNA as it is around gaining a technology service. true, Capital One aims to leverage Snowflake to help create simpler and more personalized banking experiences, but more importantly it obviously sees Snowflake as a good role model in terms of corporate culture.

Welcome a specialist private offering

Alongside this investment, Snowflake is announcing a new, high-security offering. Obviously, Fintech is one industry that has heightened security concerns and is hence a perfect candidate for this sort of tailored offering – but other industries, health, insurance, defense, are also possible candidates.

The new VPS offering (Virtual private Snowflake) will offer a number of features of import to these security-conscious organizations – private deployment, high levels of encryption, security validations and the like. The new offering enables financial services to store all their data from all their business units in one centralized location, while securely managing data access across the entire organization. In addition, enterprises can scale up and down automatically, and also scale unlimited concurrency via Snowflake’s multi-cluster architecture. Talking the offering up, Muglia pointed out the unique requirements (ones that are sometimes in tension with each other) that financial services organizations have:

Financial services enterprises are IT companies, so data is at the center of their business. But similar to other industries, data analysis in financial services is hindered by costly and inflexible tools available on-premises or in the cloud. A built-for-the-cloud data warehouse is a game changer, providing the flexibility and scale to meet the needs of the large financial service enterprises. Virtual Private Snowflake is the only data warehouse that takes full advantage of the cloud while delivering the security financial services require.

MyPOV

Data warehousing, once the only way to run analytics on business data, are increasingly being seen as a solution to only a subset of analytical problems. In-memory and real time transactional analytics can tick many of the boxes that formerly only data warehousing could do so. For that reason, data warehousing vendors need to find ways to offer differentiated value to the customers who still require warehousing. Snowflake’s FinTech offering is a good example of this strategy in action.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

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