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“Above the Trend Line” – Your Industry Rumor Central for 9/19/2020

Above the Trend Line: your industry rumor central is a recurring feature of insideBIGDATA. In this column, we present a variety of short time-critical news items grouped by category such as M&A activity, people movements, funding news, industry partnerships, customer wins, rumors and general scuttlebutt floating around the big data, data science and machine learning industries including behind-the-scenes anecdotes and curious buzz. Our intent is to provide you a one-stop source of late-breaking news to help you keep abreast of this fast-paced ecosystem. We’re working hard on your behalf with our extensive vendor network to give you all the latest happenings. Heard of something yourself? Tell us! Just e-mail me at: daniel@insidebigdata.com. Be sure to Tweet Above the Trend Line articles using the hashtag: #abovethetrendline.

I spent National Coding Week, coding like crazy! Yes, I’ve been putting together a suite of Jupyter notebooks filled with Python code for an upcoming Introduction to Data Science class that mirrors and extends my current code base of R. It’s been fun to go through the entire data science process wearing a different programming lens. I hope my students treat the code as the beginning of their “data science toolbox.” For now, let’s get on with the industry scuttlebutt! We learned of some new funding news … PopSQL, the collaborative SQL editor for teams, announces $3.4 million in seed funding, led by Gradient Ventures, Google’s AI-focused venture fund. The round includes participation from Y Combinator, FundersClub, and angel investors Max Mullen, Co-founder of Instacart, Calvin French-Owen, CTO of Segment, and Guillermo Rauch, CEO of Vercel. With this new capital, the startup plans to hire engineers to execute on its product roadmap … data.world, the cloud-native enterprise data catalog company, announced it has closed a $26 million round of venture capital funding led by Tech Pioneers Fund. Other participants in the round include new investors Breyer Capital, Prologis Ventures, and Alumni Ventures Group. Existing investors, Shasta Ventures, OurCrowd, and Workday Ventures also participated, along with several prominent angel investors including Arthur Patterson, Lincoln Brown, and Cotter Cunningham … Varada, a big data query acceleration innovator, announced that it has closed a $12 million Series A round of funding. The round is led by MizMaa Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm investing in Israeli technology startups, with participation by Gefen Capital. The round also included participation from existing investors Lightspeed, StageOne Ventures and F2 Venture Capital who contributed in early 2019 to a $7.5 million seed round. The funding comes as Varada prepares to announce the general availability of its data virtualization platform, which will establish a new standard for accelerating big data workloads while optimizing control over performance and cost … CATALOG, the DNA-based platform for massive digital data storage and computation, announced it has secured $10 million in Series A funding and named David Turek CTO. Horizons Ventures led this current oversubscribed round, joined by Airbus Ventures, and the investment will be used to fund early product trials and continued Research and Development. In total, CATALOG has raised $21M through additional investors, including NEA, OS Fund, Data Collective, AME Cloud, and SOSV, among others … Panther Labs, a cybersecurity startup led by Airbnb and AWS alumni, has raised $15 million in Series A funding to accelerate development of its open source security platform designed as an alternative to legacy SIEMs. Lightspeed Venture Partners (LSVP) led the round with participation from S28 Capital, Innovation Endeavors, and Fathom Capital. The investment brings the company’s total funding to $20.5 million, and Gaurav Gupta, partner at LSVP, will join the board of directors.

In new M&A happenings, we learned … Esri, a leader in location intelligence, announced the acquisition of nFrames, a technology company that develops SURETM, an industry-leading imagery and lidar 3D surface reconstruction software. This will enable the fusion of imagery with 3D GIS, allowing nFrames and Esri users to seamlessly capture and analyze 3D data from aerial, drone, and ground-based sensors in an automated end-to-end process … Pure Storage (NYSE: PSTG), the IT pioneer that delivers storage as-a-service in a multi-cloud world, announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire ​Portworx​, the leading Kubernetes data services platform enterprises trust to run mission-critical applications in containers in production, for approximately $370 million in cash. This deal represents Pure’s largest acquisition to date and the company’s deeper expansion into the fast-growing market for multi-cloud data services to support Kubernetes and containers.

Commenting on the Pure/Portworx acquisition, we heard from:

“The acquisition of Portworx by Pure Storage, illustrates the rapidly growing importance and interest in cloud native strategies for enterprises globally. As a software-defined cloud native storage platform, we have seen rapid growth over the last 12 months of enterprises adopting cloud native strategies to deliver multi-cloud data services for Kubernetes. It’s clear that containers and Kubernetes play a central role in next generation application architecture, and we are excited to see how this market continues to grow and develop, now that Pure Storage has bought into this space,” said Alex Chircop, Founder and CEO, StorageOS.

In the new partnerships, alignments and collaborations department we heard … HCL Technologies (HCL), a leading global technology company, and Google Cloud announced the expansion of their strategic partnership to bring HCL’s Actian portfolio, starting with Actian AvalancheTM, to Google Cloud. Actian Avalanche is a high-performance hybrid cloud data warehouse designed to power an enterprise’s most demanding operational analytics workloads. Actian Avalanche enables a seamless path to migrate legacy data warehouses, including IBM Netezza and Oracle Exadata, to Google Cloud, through a hybrid-cloud offering leveraging Google Cloud’s Anthos application platform … Zaloni™, an award-winning leader in data management, announced a new partnership with the leading modern general purpose database platform, MongoDB. The partnership simplifies data migration from legacy systems to MongoDB Atlas, the company’s global cloud database, while providing end-to-end DataOps capabilities through Zaloni’s ArenaTM platform to enable data modernization and new analytics use cases … Atos, a global leader in digital transformation, announced a multi-year partnership with Willis Towers Watson (WTW), a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company. Atos will support Willis Towers Watson in its digital transformation, including enhancements to the business experiences by moving on-premise infrastructure to the cloud, retiring legacy hardware and software, and shifting to a consumption-based model. In addition, Atos will help reimagine the end-user experience through the use of chatbots, digital lockers and virtual technology bars to help reduce failures and increase automation … Moogsoft, the pioneer and leading provider of artificial intelligence for IT Operations (AIOps), and Orange Business Services, a network-native digital services company, announced a new partnership in the Americas to streamline incident management and help prevent outages for Orange enterprise customers. A new virtual network operations center (NOC) solution based on the Moogsoft AIOps Platform allows IT teams within Orange customers’ organizations to operate virtually and collaboratively. AIOps helps customers proactively understand incidents and their root causes, and ensure uptime. This virtual option is paramount with the shift to extensive remote working.

In the customers wins category we learned … Contract intelligence company Icertis was chosen by HERE Technologies, a location data and platform company, to help them manage 70,000 legacy contracts with the power of AI.  As the contracts were digitized on the Icertis platform, AI helped identify contract attributes and clauses, giving the sales team a holistic look at past customer contracts, enabling them to make better decisions on renewals, up-sell and cross-sell throughout its customer base.

We also learned of some new people movement news … Sisu, the fast and comprehensive augmented analytics platform, announced Brent Goldman has joined the company as Vice President of Engineering. Brent will be responsible for scaling and leading the engineering team at Sisu. Brent joins Sisu from Uber, where he founded and led engineering for the company’s Self Driving Platform, laying the foundation for the future of transportation with technology to deploy, operate and optimize fleets of self-driving cars on the Uber network. He also co-founded Uber’s Marketplace Dynamics engineering group. Prior to Uber, Brent was the founder & CTO of Standard Treasury, a YC-backed enterprise fintech company that was acquired by Silicon Valley Bank. Brent started his career at Facebook where he was one of the early engineers responsible for building the Developer Platform … Qumulo, a leading file data platform that helps organizations easily store and manage their file data at scale with unrivaled freedom, control and real-time visibility, announced that marketing veteran and former Tableau CMO, Elissa Fink, has been named to Qumulo’s board of directors … Conversica, Inc., a leader in Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) helping organizations attract, acquire and grow customers at scale, announced the appointments of Peter Maloney as Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Mark Jancola as Chief Technology Officer (CTO) and Vice President, Engineering. Due to businesses now operating predominantly in an online or digital world, there’s been an overwhelming interest in Intelligent Automation solutions that help to drive revenue and augment customer-facing teams. An augmented workforce of Intelligent Virtual Assistants accelerates customer acquisition, retention and growth for mid-market and enterprise businesses and provides customers with the digital transformation tools they need to succeed in an increasingly challenging market.

We also received a number of comments about the importance of National Coding Week:

“If you didn’t realize how much businesses rely on software before the coronavirus pandemic started, you know now,” commented Jeff Keyes, VP of Products, Plutora. “With so many people working remotely, organizations are more dependent than ever on software that keeps the team on the same page and keeps the business operating smoothly. However, none of that can be accomplished without skilled development teams that are supported by strong and fluent coders. Just like a house needs a sturdy foundation upon which to build, an application also needs a solid foundation of well written code from developers. Every company–from a fresh-faced startup to a seasoned enterprise–must have a talented team of code writers who can meet the demands of the rapidly-evolving software industry and do so quickly and at scale. Coding has become the language of business, and organizations must be fluent in order to achieve success.”

“DevOps has completely transformed the way IT practitioners look at coding and software development,” commented Tony Goulding, Cybersecurity Evangelist, Centrify.” As companies adopt best practices for DevOps and incorporate new technologies, tools and methodologies, incorporating privileged access management (PAM) to protect organizations from a cyberattack becomes increasingly complex. Traditional methods of securing developer environments involve manual interventions and restrictive controls that can slow down the development and operations teams. Organizations now also have a rapidly-increasing amount of non-human identities to manage, such as applications, virtual machines, services and workloads running in the cloud. As a result, DevOps has shied away from keeping PAM in their environment because it proved too slow and complex to deploy and manage. However, the reality is that each new identity created represents a potential attack surface, even if short-lived. This National Coding Week, it is important for organizations to look past legacy PAM methods and move to more modern methods of preventing cyberattacks from impacting their software development. Luckily, PAM solutions that support more modern application-to-application password management (AAPM) approaches can help DevOps teams secure privileged identities – both human and non-human. AAPM methods such as secure shell (SSH) keys, ephemeral tokens and Delegated Machine Credentials can seamlessly incorporate PAM into the DevOps pipeline, ensuring secure access that improves an organization’s security posture and agility, while still helping developers meet their time-based goals.”

We also received a commentary about how AI/ML empowers retailers to handle demand forecasting, allocation, replenishment, and assortment planning:

“There’s been a great deal of conversation about the ‘new normal’ and how it will impact the retail industry, but I don’t believe there’s a such thing as a ‘new normal,’ commented Matt Jones, Infor VP of Retail Industry Solution Strategy. “The retail industry was built upon change – changing seasons, emerging trends, varying customer segmentations – making it a constant in the industry. It’s paramount that retailers remain agile, even amid added uncertainty, by eliminating unknowns and blind spots in the supply chain. Now, especially, is the time to consider networked AI and ML solutions that ensure reliable demand forecasting and production. AI and ML applications lead to exponentially refined supply chain operations. Integrating these solutions directly into the ERP software that retailers already have makes all difference in translating AI-related projects to AI-enabled applications.”

And finally, we received a number of additional commentaries about the newly announced Snowflake IPO:

“Snowflake empowers enterprises to easily and quickly compete with data,” said Matthew Scullion, CEO and co-founder of Matillion. “Their cloud-native architecture and ability to deliver accelerated time to value at scale and volume, across any use case, has driven their incredible growth. Snowflake’s team and culture are further underpinnings of their success, which helps their amazing trajectory make perfect sense.”

“I want to personally congratulate Snowflake on what appears to be a truly massive IPO,” commented Yellowbrick’s CEO Neil Carson. “This IPO validates that the market for data warehouses is large and growing. Yellowbrick and Snowflake share a common vision that data warehouse modernization is important and a top priority for businesses grappling with formidable economic, social, and customer behavior changes. Our own Yellowbrick approach to data warehouse modernization is focused on the enterprise and hybrid cloud applications that solve the vast majority of enterprise data needs that are not cloud-only. Snowflake’s IPO is a definite win for our industry and for the businesses Snowflake serves as well as the enterprises we serve—all of which are desperate for new data and analytics approaches.”

“The reason Snowflake is doing so well is that they created their architecture from the ground up utilizing the data lakehouse pattern,” commended Andy Neill, Senior Research Director, Data and Analytics, Info-Tech Research Group. “This enables storage of unstructured and structured data at a cost effective price point and enables you to scale the compute later independently as you need. This coupled with having that lakehouse capabilities which include visualizations, analytics and ML makes it a no-brainer for some companies.”

“Snowflake’s IPO underscores the increasing importance of companies not only unifying their data from various sources, but also making it actionable,” commented Rich Waldron, Founder and CEO of enterprise automation company Tray.io. “Companies continue to invest heavily to gather valuable data about customer behavior, product usage, and buying cycles, but the smartest firms are taking advantage of the power of data warehousing to make those vast amounts of mission-critical data accessible and ready to go. The most successful firms we’ve seen are outpacing their competitors by freely flowing business data anywhere it’s needed. By embracing a strategy that incorporates tech stack integrations and intelligent data management, smart companies are breaking down data silos and unifying their most important data to take immediate action. They’re using customer behavior patterns to directly inform future engagement campaigns, or using highly segmented demographic and firmographic data to hyper-personalize messaging that deeply engages prospects. We expect that this ability to take full control of your data will continue to be a key competitive advantage for a variety of companies in the future.”

“Snowflake took the cloud playbook, rewrote it and won,” comented Poojan Kumar, CEO and co-founder of enterprise backup vendor Clumio. “The company is a prime example of how a modern, forward-thinking organization, built from the cloud up, should evolve. Snowflake disrupted the crowded, well-established data warehousing market by rapidly innovating a seamless service that tapped the scale, elasticity and economics of the public cloud. Snowflake transformed the old-school data warehouse into a cloud data platform and completely changed the way companies do business today – and its customers have felt the biggest benefit with huge cost savings and productivity increases with faster access to their data. Companies that can use the playbook correctly will emerge as winners, while those that don’t will lose. We congratulate Snowflake on this monumental event. The company is an inspiration to us as we also apply the cloud playbook to data protection to remove it as a blocker to enterprises attempting to accelerate their own cloud journeys.”

“If anyone needed more proof that the cloud data movement is unstoppable, Snowflake’s IPO is it,” commented Rob Woolen, CTO and co-founder of Sigma Computing. “I had the privilege of having a firsthand look into Snowflake as it was being built and I immediately saw the incredible opportunity it would create for companies to finally capitalize on all of the data they’ve been creating and collecting. Companies have been chasing the data-driven dream for more than a decade now and Snowflake finally provided the foundation needed for it to actually be possible – it’s no wonder Warren Buffet is willing to break his own rules to invest in the company early. Making more data from more sources available to more people is the only way for companies to truly harness the full power of data. I am thrilled for the whole Snowflake team, our shared investors, and our shared board members. This is a huge day for all of them, but it is also an exciting day for just about every cloud data company.”

“Snowflake’s stock market debut is something to behold,” commented Danielle Royston, public cloud evangelist, TelcoDR. “It more than doubled its $120 IPO price yesterday, which has seen the company now valued at over $70 billion. This means it is now worth over 264 times its annual revenue, which is almost un-heard of. Not only is it the biggest software IPO in history, it’s enterprise software, addressing a much smaller market than recent IPOs in the consumer sector, like Uber and Netflix. Snowflake is also unique because, unlike many other software companies that are designed to work across private and public clouds, it’s put all its eggs in one basket – the public cloud. This is an intelligent bet. The public cloud is giving businesses across all industries, plug and play capabilities that can replace outdated manual workflows, creating massive efficiencies and cost savings. The response to the IPO suggests that the market is ready for this kind of enterprise software. Industries, like telecoms, that haven’t yet begun to fully explore the power of the public cloud, need to move quickly or be left behind.”

“One of the smartest things Snowflake did was pursue an extra round of financing before going public. During their last venture round, a lot of reporters – and a few investors questioned the round, saying “why not go public now?” I think that helped them really set the stage and provide the right level of scale in anticipation of their IPO,” commented Chetan Mathur, CEO of Next Pathway. “At the time, replacing Bob Muglia for Frank Slootman was the right choice, albeit controversial. While Muglia was beloved, Slootman is considered a consummate pro, capable of enabling the company to go to new heights. Slootman has the playbook for taking high-growth companies public; he executed his strategic perfectly. This included bringing in his own lieutenants at key positions (like Mike Scarpelli as CFO – formerly with Frank at Service Now), reorganizing their sales teams, and putting a big focus on migration solutions. Migration from legacy systems is key for growing in the Enterprise market. Customers need an answer on how to get to Snowflake, if they are currently invested in other legacy systems (like Oracle and IBM). Frank knew this, and his team put the right focus on this track, and with our help today, have a key differentiator over competitors. Snowflake is a gamechanger for the data warehouse and “Big Data” market. From a technical perspective, what the founders did by essentially building the platform up from scratch (without looking at how competing products were architected) set them apart from the legacy vendors. Going forward we see more and more enterprise companies willing to take the leap to migrate off of on-prem environments to Snowflake. Snowflake’s value-add, in addition to a number of performance and technological advancements, is their ability to leverage any of the major cloud vendor’s infrastructure (AWS, Azure, Google), thus making a captivating value-add for enterprises seeking a multi-cloud strategy (versus being locked into only one cloud vendor).  A key thing to watch will be how Snowflake straddles the line as both partner and competitor with the major cloud vendors. Knowing Frank and team, they’ll most certainly win.”

“Snowflake’s IPO is in many ways an inflection point for the entire data industry,” commented Josh Rogers, CEO of Precisely. “They just had the largest software IPO of all time, despite the global pandemic. They are valued at more than $60 billion because the industry understands they’re the leader in addressing a massive market – the market of managing and analyzing data in the cloud.  Companies understand that their ability to drive decisions from data will be the source of their competitive advantage, and Snowflake is critical in supporting that. As companies look to achieve trusted, accurate and consistent data, they will be turning more and more to companies like Snowflake.”

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