The 2023 Snowflake Summit was once again a huge hit with Snowflake customers, partners, and the data community as a whole. Not only did the scorching weather in Vegas dominate the scene (as usual for the annual Snowflake pilgrimage), but this year also witnessed a heated competition between Snowflake and Databricks to attract event attendees. Since both events coincided, there was a lot of juggling of schedules, flights, and people between Las Vegas and San Francisco. In the end, everyone I spoke with managed to survive, and it seemed that both events were a success.

Here are a few key takeaways from the 2023 Snowflake Summit. As for the Databricks conference, my colleague Pat Ross will provide an update soon. Subscribe or follow Data Clymer on LinkedIn to make sure you don’t miss it.

1. AI, ML and LLM….Oh My!

AI, ML and LLM….Oh My!

Unless you have been living on a deserted island, you know that everyone’s talking about how to take advantage of Generative AI, Machine Learning (ML), and Large Language Models (LLMs). The 2023 Snowflake Summit Conference covered this theme in depth. From Frank Slootman’s keynote and drink challenge to the numerous breakout sessions (assuming you could get there; more on this later), AI was the word of the week everywhere you went.

One of the more notable Snowflake announcements was around its new Document AI offering (now in private preview), which is built off technology it recently acquired from Neeva and Applica. Document AI essentially enables Snowflake users to query unstructured data sources like PDF documents using natural language.

Snowflake also announced it will leverage LLMs across its overall platform, including support for its increasing base of Streamlit apps and Snowpark Containerized Services, as well as API access for external LLMs.

2. Sharing is Caring

Sharing is Caring

The core Snowflake platform continues growing its ability to share data while maintaining its ability to do so securely. Data sharing is crucial to Snowflake’s strategy and will play a growing role in its industry data cloud strategy. Secure data sharing via “Data Clean Rooms” allow organizations within a vertical supply chain to share data and to collaborate on joint business opportunities to drive business growth.

During a sports industry panel session, Data Clymer customer Madison Koch from the Minnesota Vikings discussed the opportunities that Clean Rooms present. For example, a sports organization could securely share customer data with airline or consumer retail partners (in accordance with data privacy standards) to provide an enhanced fan experience, giving rewards like free coffee or bonus airline miles.

It will be interesting to see how Snowflake further expands these capabilities and the potential use cases that arise. We look forward to helping our clients in sports and other industries take advantage of the new and exciting opportunities this trend will create.

3. There’s an App for That!

2023 Snowflake Summit: There's an app for that

Building off last year’s announcements around Snowflake’s Native Application framework, Snowflake continues to double down on its strategy of creating a cloud platform that enables organizations to build their businesses on Snowflake. This allows customers’ applications and data to reside within Snowflake so they can take advantage of the platform’s data security, governance, and commercialization capabilities.

Snowflake has pushed its Native App Framework into public preview (currently only on AWS), providing data app developers with increased opportunities to not only create new apps but to also monetize these via the growing Snowflake Marketplace (an app store-like listing for Snowflake customers).

According to Snowflake, the Snowflake Marketplace now has about 36,000 unique visitors every month and over 430 providers. It will be interesting to follow the build-out of this marketplace and the various new use cases that organizations identify.

4. More Iceberg!Apache Iceberg Tables

Although the weather was hot in Las Vegas, Snowflake continued to cool things off by announcing expanded support for external Apache Iceberg Tables. Building upon its initial Iceberg Table support, Iceberg Tables in Snowflake are now bi-directional, providing a unified way to integrate and interact with external Iceberg Tables. Data automatically updates—regardless of whether changes originate in Snowflake or a different system—presenting a significant opportunity to interact with files outside of Snowflake.

This updated approach also applies to both managed and unmanaged Iceberg Tables, eliminating the need to rewrite tables when onboarding to Snowflake. Additionally, Snowflake has integrated Iceberg Tables with its overall security and governance platform practices, making them more secure.

5. Snowpark Container Services

Similar to many of the other announcements, Snowflake’s Snowpark Container Services is an expansion of its existing Snowpark offering, which was launched in 2021. This enhancement expands the type of workloads that the Snowflake Data Cloud can accommodate, now encompassing data apps, LLMs, data science notebooks, MLOps, and more. It provides a container environment that includes services from additional partners like NVIDIA, Dataiku, and Astronomer.

Developers can now easily create and deploy full-stack data apps and other complex data products within Snowflake and take advantage of Snowflake’s managed infrastructure, other configurable services, and hardware options. And because data remains within Snowflake, customers see improved data security and can accomplish sophisticated data modeling by Snowflake Native Apps.

Snowpark Container Services

6. Location, Location, Location

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the other hot topic from the 2023 Snowflake Summit: the venue. While this year’s event took place in the same city as last year (Las Vegas), there was a notable difference in the location of the keynote and breakout sessions. Instead of being held in Caesar’s Forum, this year’s sessions took place in Caesar’s Palace, which essentially created two distinct Summit camps connected by a packed pedestrian promenade or a network of walkways within the LINQ complex.

Attendees had to cross Las Vegas Blvd (with its long stoplight times and typical Vegas scenery) while enduring 100+ degree heat, then face another complex navigational challenge within Caesar’s Palace. In total, it took a minimum of 20 minutes to get from one camp to the other. This caused many attendees to either skip the breakout sessions altogether or forgo time spent with vendors at the Basecamp Expo (a comment I heard from several partner vendors).

On the bright side, everyone certainly achieved their daily step goals!

Snowflake 2023 Summit: We got our steps in!

For those who are anxious about next year’s Summit being another walking marathon, not to worry. The 2024 Snowflake Summit will be held in San Francisco in early June. And rather than occurring at the same time, the Snowflake and Databricks Summit events will be on sequential weeks, with the Databricks event happening June 10-13.

Here’s hoping the data community is able and willing to spend half of June in San Francisco next year! Otherwise, everyone will have to once again choose which event to attend. (Speaking of choices, check out our recent article on Snowflake vs Databricks if you’re trying to decide which cloud data platform is right for you.)

7: Collaboration Drives Growth and Innovation

As always, the sight of thousands of data professionals coming together to share their lessons and experiences was a reminder of the growth that comes through collaboration. (It was also a reminder of how glad we are that in-person events are back—but that’s another story.)

Talking about what’s possible helps us all continue to improve and push the boundaries of innovation. Our small but mighty group of Clymers was thrilled to attend the event to help our customers and partners tell their stories.

Nate Schnader, SVP and CIO at the Big Ten Conference, gave insight on the Big Ten’s innovative data strategy and how they’re working with Data Clymer and GrowthLoop (formerly Flywheel) to revolutionize the way multi-team organizations leverage the modern data stack.

2023 Snowflake Summit: The Big Ten Conference, Data Clymer, and GrowthLoop

The Minnesota Vikings took the stage with fellow Data Clymer customer the San Francisco Giants, as well as data leaders from the Orlando Magic and Chicago Cubs. Bill Stratton led the group’s riveting discussion on the benefits that sports organizations are realizing as a result of adopting their own modern data stack.

2023 Snowflake Summit: Sports panel discussion

Back at Basecamp, we dropped by the Sigma booth to give a firsthand account of the tool’s amazing capabilities. Data Clymer CEO and founder Aron Clymer dove into the work we’re doing to help some of our clients leverage Sigma’s Embedded Analytics capabilities, while Hart Zwingelberg from the Big Ten shared a glimpse of the internal dashboards they have created using Sigma.

2023 Snowflake Summit: Aron Clymer at the Sigma booth

We had a blast mingling with the 120+ data professionals who attended our happy hour with Matillion and Kensu. There were some great conversations about Snowflake and the ever-evolving data space.

Data Clymer, Matillion, and Kensu at the 2023 Snowflake Summit

Cheers to Our Partners!

Many of our partners took home awards and made significant product announcements during the 2023 Snowflake Summit.

A big kudos to:

And last but not least—to Snowflake for yet again bringing the data community together for a memorable event. With nearly 12,000 in-person attendees, the 2023 Snowflake Summit was one for the record books.

We’re already looking forward to next year!