Why Every Snowflake User Needs Alation’s Data Catalog

By Kiran Narsu

Published on December 14, 2020

Why Every Snowflake User Needs Alation’s Data Catalog blog post

Last week, Alation announced a partnership with Snowflake, including having achieved Elite status within the Snowflake Partner Network. This partnership represents the highest level of achievement for Snowflake technology partners and reflects our joint success. When used with Snowflake, Alation enables organizations to understand all of their data, go-live fast, drive adoption, and govern their data in the cloud.

Alation is so important to a successful Snowflake implementation that I believe every Snowflake user needs Alation. Let me explain.

A Snowflake Becomes an Avalanche

Enterprises are making major investments in their data and analytics capabilities, both to help deal with a deluge of data and to grapple with emerging data governance and regulatory pressures. Snowflake and its modern data cloud platform has been a game-changer for companies looking to make better decisions with data and has emerged as an industry powerhouse as evidenced by the biggest tech IPO of 2020.

As their momentum builds, more and more enterprises are turning to Snowflake to take advantage of the flexibility and cost savings of its modern cloud data warehouse. By and large, these Snowflake initiatives are big and complex with a lot riding on them.

Enterprises need these projects to succeed and succeed fast. They need to understand all the data within and external to Snowflake in the enterprise. Enterprises need their implementations to go-live as soon as possible so that they can get immediate value from this high-profile investment. Project sponsors need lightning-fast adoption throughout the enterprise and across all categories of users and data. Finally, there is a significant need to ensure that data is being used the right way for data governance and to comply with data privacy policies.

Understand All Your Data with Alation

Alation connects to all the enterprise data sources both within Snowflake and outside of Snowflake, whether in another cloud or on-prem. Alation automatically builds a unified view for all this analytical data, empowering users to find, understand, trust and govern the data they need, secure in the knowledge that it’s the right data, paired with guidelines and policy information to ensure that it’s used correctly and that the data has been vetted by experts — whether it’s currently housed within Snowflake or not.

Go-Live Fast

One of the biggest challenges with migrating analytics workloads to the cloud is knowing which data matters the most. You must prioritize the migration of the most critical data assets and not bother with the stuff that’s stale or unused or just plain wrong. That’s easy to say, but very hard to do in practice because it’s historically been a manual process with a lot of guesswork.

Alation automatically identifies usage patterns to help Snowflake customers determine critical data assets and user groups, ensuring an accelerated, orderly, and low-risk migration. As Anthony Seraphim, VP of data governance at Texas Mutual Insurance, one of our many joint customers, said, “Alation was critical in determining the priorities and sequence at which data assets and key user groups were migrated to Snowflake’s Data Cloud.” When discussing how to design the perfect cloud data lake with Snowflake and Alation, he went on to say that to successfully migrate to the cloud, “you must change your mindset to ‘understand first then build.’”

Using Alation, Snowflake customers can also notify their key user communities as migration is occurring, dissuading them from using deprecated or outdated data, and instead, pointing them to vetted and trusted sources inside Snowflake — considerably easing migration.

Alation Drives Adoption of Snowflake

Once you have migrated your data to the cloud, now you need to ensure that your users are leveraging it. Alation makes it easy for data consumers to find and understand the data in the Snowflake Data Cloud. When data consumers can easily find relevant data, see who endorsed it, identify experts, and know which policies govern usage, the Snowflake Data Cloud becomes more welcoming to everyone from business users to data scientists — driving greater adoption. Analysts can focus on creating dashboards and reports, data scientists can build models without friction, and you get desired adoption outcomes.

Govern Your Data

As your Snowflake Data Cloud grows, data governance and ensuring accurate, compliant data usage becomes paramount. Alation helps you govern your data and guide data usage through active data governance.

Traditional governance approaches followed a “field of dreams” approach: if you build it, they will come. This approach has not been entirely successful because it means, gather all the data, all the policies, build a glossary, then parcel out the data with an eye-dropper. Typically, these projects take years, rarely ever finish, and business users continue to wait for the data they need.

Alation connects data governance to the people who are doing the analytics by enabling data consumers to understand the data and how the data should be used. Alation surfaces guidelines, policies, and recommendations as the data is used. Does a certain data set fall under a privacy policy? Alation ensures that anyone using the data sees the policy and understands what it means. Are there several dashboards that calculate revenue differently for different purposes? Alation makes sure that whoever is looking for revenue information knows exactly which dashboard they should use and why.

Succeed Faster with Snowflake and Alation

Snowflake provides an impressive modern cloud data warehouse. With Alation, joint customers can leverage data internal and external to Snowflake, go-live faster, adopt sooner, govern effectively, and realize more value from the significant investment in Snowflake. You also gain a more active community of Snowflake users, making the catalog better, in turn drawing more users in, which ultimately makes the catalog even better. This “flywheel” effectively drives data democratization, building a social, vibrant, and diverse community of data users thriving inside the Snowflake ecosystem.

To learn more about why every Snowflake user needs Alation, schedule a demo with our partner team.

  • A Snowflake Becomes an Avalanche
  • Understand All Your Data with Alation
  • Go-Live Fast
  • Alation Drives Adoption of Snowflake
  • Govern Your Data
  • Succeed Faster with Snowflake and Alation
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