I was asked a while ago by a twitter follower this question. “One year ago to now, how has your use of technology changed in your job role?” Interestingly enough, I celebrated 1 year @snowflakeDB on April 16, 2019. I think now is a good time to answer that question.
In a nutshell, a year ago, I was 100% focused on building out private cloud infrastructure on a single platform. If you have followed anything I’ve tweeted or written over the last 4 or 5 years, you know that platform to be Oracle. In particular Exadata and Superclusters. The technology, the features, and the stuff you can do on one of those things is phenomenal. It was like drinking from a firehose and I wanted to know it all. Along the same time however, the winds were changing and these cloud providers were enabling some amazing things by allowing technologist to stitch together some really cool tools and come up with innovative ways of solving everyday problems, and I wanted in.
A little over a year ago, I was approached by a long time friend about an opportunity at this startup out in San Mateo called Snowflake. It was a data warehouse built for and in the cloud. What an opportunity!!!! Reluctant to leave my Oracle comfort zone, I reached out to some people in the industry and they had nothing but good thing to say about either going to Snowflake or the opportunity to work for a small startup. Sooooo, I made the move.
Now on to the question at hand. Conceptually, it’s the other side of the same coin. Helping companies manage the huge amounts of data they are generating. The big difference is how we do it. How we position the data warehouse solution and the tools to enable the data pipeline. Snowflake is currently deployed in the AWS and the Azure clouds. This paradigm shift along with the fact that the sole product is an extremely powerful OLAP data warehouse, means that I deal with the connecting to the DB in a different way and the tool kit is a big difference.
Since Snowflake’s focus is building a world class enterprise cloud data warehouse, we have no native ELT/ETL or visualization tools, I have the opportunity to investigate more cloud options for these solutions. In the Oracle space, we had access to an end to end solution if that was appropriate. Now, as my boss always says, “meet customers where they are”, AWS and Azure clouds opens up a wide variety of powerful and interesting solutions. This is not a product comparison so I will not being going there. Needless to say, there are a ton of really powerful tools in this space.
It’s quite interesting. A few years ago, at an Oracle ACE Director briefing I was discussing going to cloud with Tim Hall, and how the role of the traditional DBA would change. My takeaway was that the DBA role would move away from the routine maintenance towards architecture and design. Gone would be the days of managing indexes, partitions, RMAN backups, etc. With cloud vendors being responsible for SLAs the customer will no longer have access to all the buttons and levers. The DBA will no longer be able to see all the flashing lights on the servers in the data center. You will either be interfacing with the database thru a URL and management console, or programmatically.
I am writing more code. Where I primarily used PL/SQL, I find myself looking at languages such as Golang, NodeJS, and Python. Instead of the Linux command line and sqlcl, it’s a web UI with a SQL worksheet. I work more with JSON and other semi-structured data formats. However, the most interesting thing for me, as I have alluded to earlier, are all the tools and configuration components from a pure cloud perspective that my customers are using on their cloud journey.
To sum it all up, year one has been a tremendous ride. I’m helping to create solutions that bring together a variety of fantastic and innovative tools and applications that I probably would not have been doing if I stayed where I was. This in in no way a slight to my previous employer or the Oracle technology stack, both of which are world class leaders in their respective areas. It’s just different. It’s a change, and I am having a blast.