Snowflake Takes Aim at Amazon, Hadoop With New Data Service

Former Microsoft Corp. and Juniper Networks Inc. executive Bob Muglia can’t seem to stay away from database and infrastructure software. He’s taking the wraps off his newest company, an effort to sell data software designed for Internet-based cloud networks.

Called Snowflake Computing Inc., the company built a new database from the ground up to take advantage of cloud systems that let customers easily add or remove capacity, Muglia, who is Snowflake’s CEO, said in an interview. The product, known as the Snowflake Elastic Data Warehouse, is already in use at customers such as Conde Nast and Accordant Media LLC, said Muglia.

The product competes with Amazon.com Inc.’s Redshift data warehousing service, cloud versions of Microsoft and Oracle Corp.’s databases as well as Hadoop, a data analysis and storage software suite. The market is already about $10 billion and will grow at an annual rate of about 15 percent, Muglia said, when you add in company’s investments in programs to store and analyze massive amounts of data.

Snowflake’s product, built by former Oracle data warehousing architects, relies on the SQL database programming language, which means it will be easier to manage and to find employees with related skills, said Muglia. Hadoop is still a more specialized skill with 50,000 accounts on LinkedIn mentioning Hadoop experience compared with 1.6 million for SQL, he said.

Companies such as Cloudera Inc. and Hortonworks Inc. are among those selling Hadoop variants.

Two-year-old Snowflake, based in San Mateo, California, has raised $26 million in funding from Sutter Hill Ventures, Redpoint Ventures and Wing Venture Partners, Muglia said. It employs about 50 people and tapped Muglia, who oversaw Microsoft’s server and SQL database division until 2011, as CEO earlier this year.

“I love infrastructure software and databases,” said Muglia, who said he was the first “technical guy” on Microsoft’s SQL Server in 1988. “As my wife and daughter remind me all the time I’m like the nerd’s nerd.”