Knowledge chess sport: Databricks, MongoDB and Snowflake make strikes for the enterprise, half 2

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That is the second of a two-part sequence. Learn half 1 dissecting how Databricks and Snowflake are approaching head-to-head competitors.

As we famous yesterday, June was fairly a month by post-lockdown requirements, as again to again, MongoDB, Snowflake and Databricks every held their annual occasions in speedy succession. Traditionally, every of those distributors may need crossed paths in the identical enterprises, however usually with totally different constituencies. So, they didn’t straight compete in opposition to one another.

Latest declines in monetary markets however, every of those corporations are thought-about among the many hottest development gamers on the cloud knowledge platform facet, with valuations (non-public or market) ranging into the tens of billions of {dollars}. Whereas Databricks continues to be non-public, MongoDB and Snowflake have their IPOs effectively behind them.

Participant positions

They’re every positioning themselves as default vacation spot platforms for the enterprise. Databricks and Snowflake at this level are on one another’s aggressive radars and yesterday, we gave our tackle the chess sport that they’re enjoying. On this installment, we take a look at what every participant should do to enchantment to the broader enterprise. Whereas there are variations in goal markets, particularly with MongoDB, there’s a widespread thread for all three: to develop additional, they’re going to should unfold past their consolation zones.

So, what are these consolation zones? Databricks and Snowflake come from totally different components of the analytics worlds, whereas MongoDB has targeted on operational use circumstances. Traditionally, they every appealed to totally different audiences. Databricks to knowledge engineers and knowledge scientists, Snowflake to enterprise and knowledge analysts, and MongoDB to app builders.

However latest strikes from all three suppliers are beginning to breach these silos. Let’s begin with deployment. Of the three, MongoDB is the one one with on-premises presence (the opposite two are cloud pure performs), however barely 5 years into its Atlas cloud database service, the corporate’s revenues are actually principally cloud-driven. Whereas MongoDB will doubtless by no means be a cloud pure play, the cloud is distinctly driving its future.

Subsequent is operations. With Snowflake including a light-weight transaction processing engine and MongoDB making early strikes to start out addressing analytics past visualization, we had been prompted to ask a couple of weeks again whether or not they’re on a collision course. Our take? Within the quick time period, they’re nonetheless in separate universes, however in the long term, by no means say by no means. 

As for analytics, we famous yesterday, Databricks and Snowflake are extra vocal about increasing into one another’s turfs. 

Nonetheless, whereas MongoDB stays probably the most vocal about sticking to its knitting as an operational database, beneath the floor it’s making the primary strikes to come back to phrases with the relational database of us and dip its toes into analytics. 

The beginning factors

Let’s take a look at the messages popping out of every of the summits final month. MongoDB’s was about doubling down on builders. In CTO Mark Porter’s keynote, he spoke of the mounting quantity of recent purposes that will be coming forth over the subsequent few years and, with it, the necessity for expedient approaches enabling builders to beat the hurdles to getting apps into manufacturing. At Snowflake, it was all about reinforcing the “knowledge cloud” as a vacation spot by increasing its attain, each into transaction processing and machine studying. And for Databricks, it was all about benchmarks, governance and lineage capabilities displaying that the information lakehouse is prepared for prime time and capitalizing on their open-source technique.

The beginning factors for every participant locations their ambitions into perspective. MongoDB’s official mission is enabling companies to function as “software program corporations.” That displays the truth that MongoDB’s constituency has historically been software program builders, and that they have to have the ability to be productive if their organizations are to function at software program firm velocity. A recurring message of that technique is that conventional databases have confirmed to be hurdles, owing to the inflexible nature of relational schema and the lack to scale them out.

For Snowflake, it’s about focusing on enterprise and knowledge analysts who depend on knowledge warehouses with a cloud-native reinvention tackling the limitations of ease of use, scaling and knowledge sharing.

And for Databricks, it’s about harnessing the breadth and scale of the information lake with a soup-to-nuts improvement and execution atmosphere powered by Apache Spark, Photon and Delta Lake.

The following steps

That is the place getting exterior the consolation zone turns into important. Let’s study every supplier individually.


For MongoDB, it’s not nearly app builders, but in addition the database of us, as we outlined in our piece final month. For MongoDB to grow to be the default operational knowledge platform for brand spanking new purposes, it should transcend being a developer firm to additionally changing into an information firm. 

MongoDB has made some early strikes on this path, similar to upping its safety sport and writing a bona fide SQL question engine. The corporate must make deeper cultural shifts, similar to pivoting away from the message denigrating SQL and out of date database practices. MongoDB responds that relational database builders also needs to pivot, or at the least settle for the truth that the doc mannequin doesn’t imply strolling away from the skillsets and disciplines that they’ve developed. The MongoDB platform does help schema validation. However schema tends to be variable in most MongoDB implementations, so we want to see extra targeted efforts sooner or later for creating knowledge lineage capabilities that would observe schema evolution.

Both means, our message to MongoDB stays: Don’t alienate a key constituency (SQL database builders) that you’ll want to increase your enterprise footprint. We want to see extra optimistic outreach sooner or later.


For Snowflake, it’s convincing knowledge scientists that Snowpark must be an efficient execution atmosphere for his or her fashions. The corporate has a brand new partnership with Anaconda, which curates Python libraries, to optimize them for execution in Snowpark. However doubters stay; as an illustration, contends that it’s extra environment friendly to chunk the bullet and run machine studying fashions of their clusters that may multithread processes, then feed outcomes again to Snowflake.

Since introducing Snowpark a few years in the past, Snowflake has improved its capability to optimally scale assets for user-defined features (UDFs) written in languages similar to Java or Python.

After all, the latest announcement of Unistore locations operational analytics inside Snowflake’s sights. Nevertheless, we don’t view this as an enormous land seize for a brand new constituency as the corporate is just not going after the SQL Servers, Oracles or MongoDBs of the world.


For Databricks, it’s about making the information lakehouse extra business- and database analyst-friendly. These of us work with knowledge modeling and BI instruments, not notebooks; there must be one other entry path offering a view that makes Delta Lake look extra like an information warehouse.

And enterprise analysts anticipate constant efficiency for each interactive queries and batch reporting. The TPC-DS benchmarks are designed round analytics/determination help workloads, however as with EPA gasoline mileage rankings, your outcomes will range. Considerably, the subsequent stage for Photon is decreasing latencies beneath extra typical question situations, together with broadening help of desk and file codecs past Delta Lake and Parquet, respectively.

Bringing all of it collectively for a game-winning technique

The widespread thread is that, coming from totally different beginning factors, every supplier should hook up with new constituencies. The important thing received’t be know-how alone, however tradition and structuring of the core enterprise. Go-to-market, subject and help groups have to be recruited who can discuss to the totally different constituencies. Debates over purity should exit the door.

Can MongoDB discuss to relational database folks in addition to builders? Will Snowflake discuss the language of information scientists, and might Databricks domesticate the BI crowd? These should not speaking factors that you simply’ll see on a press launch.

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