Is Snowflake ‘open’ enough? | InfoWorld

The relative merits of “open” have been hotly debated in our industry for years. There is a sense in some quarters that being open is beneficial by default, but this view does not always fully consider the objectives being served. What matters most to the vast majority of organizations are security, performance, costs, simplicity, and innovation. Open should always be employed in service of those goals, not as the goal in itself.

When we develop products at Snowflake, we evaluate where open standards, open formats, and open source can create the best outcome for our customers. We believe strongly in the positive impact of open and we are grateful for the open source community’s efforts, which have propelled the big data revolution and much more. But open is not the answer in every instance, and by sharing our thinking on this topic we hope to provide a useful perspective to others creating innovative technologies.

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Open is often understood to describe two broad elements: open standards and open source. We’ll look at them each in more detail here.

Open standards

Open standards encompass file formats, protocols, and programming models, which include languages and APIs. Although open standards generally provide value to users and vendors alike, it’s important to understand where they serve higher-level priorities and where they do not.

File formats

We agree that open file formats are an important counter to the very real problem of vendor lock-in. Where we differ is in the assertion that those open formats are the optimal way to represent data during processing, and that direct file access should be a key characteristic of a data platform. 

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