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October 7, 2019

Five Questions with… Snowflake Co-founder Benoit Dageville

"I was a total failure in school"

By CBR Staff Writer

Every Monday morning we fire five questions at a leading C-suite figure in the business technology sector. Today we’re pleased to be joined by Oracle veteran, turned Snowflake co-founder Benoit Dageville.

Benoit, What’s the Biggest Challenge for your Clients?

I always find that customers who come to us looking to migrate to a cloud-based data warehouse often have the same challenge; lack of scalability.

Snowflake co-founder

Snowflake co-founder Benoit Dageville

Traditional siloed data storage, is rigid and inflexible, and ill-equipped to handle modern data demands.

A decade ago, these legacy systems were conceived at a time when volumes of data were far less than today. New technologies such as the advent of the Internet of Things (IoT) have caused a mass increase in data on an unprecedented scale. This has only driven the need for a flexible solution that can scale-up and down depending on usage, enabling companies to capitalise on data-driven business decisions.

Scalability issues can also present a significant financial impact on companies who continue to rely on legacy architecture. These companies can be locked into an agreement and pay for it regardless of whether they have an immediate need for the storage or not. Many of our clients simply want to enjoy the freedom of an agile, flexible and cost-effective data warehouse that cannot be achieved outside of the cloud. Some may still be worried about the move to the cloud, but it presents significant short and long-term benefits.

Technology that Excites you Most?

This isn’t a biased answer, but honestly, it’s the cloud! Software services, when done right, are so much more powerful than their on-premise counterparts and the simplicity of the cloud is the key enabler for the future of software.

Unfortunately, existing on-premises software cannot evolve to become services. Instead you have to build from the ground-up, and avoid retrofitting a solution for the cloud. This is the ethos that has helped build and shape the very notion of Snowflake. Hence, the enterprise software landscape is going to dramatically change in the next few years, much more profoundly than it did in the last 30 years. Cloud is a revolution, not an evolution.

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Greatest Success?

Co-founding Snowflake, with my business partner Thierry Cruanes, has been my greatest success. After working in data warehousing for a number of years, I realised that the industry was rapidly changing largely due to the mass increase in ‘big data’. There was no scalable solution for big data that companies could use effectively, which left a big gap in the market that we envisioned only a cloud-based data warehouse could fill.

When we founded Snowflake in 2012, we worked solely in my apartment, for many months trying to bring the Snowflake vision to life. We developed a scalable architecture by leveraging the resources of the cloud, and the very blueprint of the company was conceived on a whiteboard.

It brings us great joy that since this moment, Snowflake has grown rapidly in such a short time, becoming a tech unicorn in the process. Above all, it makes us proud to know that we are helping customers from across the world capitalise on modern data demands, proving that the cloud really is the future for data analytics.

Worst Failure?

I was a total failure in school and I barely made it to the university. It was only after I discovered computer science that I became “successful” so to speak.

This was my passion and I think when you are truly passionate you can never really fail. Or more precisely, you consider failures as a positive experience, something that you learn a lot from.

In Another Life I’d Be…

An artist. The reason I love software development is because there is a huge amount of creativity involved. This is what I love, creating and inventing new ways to address difficult and interesting problems. I have always tried to find new ways of doing things and have always considered the status-quo a failure.

See also: Five Questions with… Dynatrace Founder and CTO, Bernd Greifeneder


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