Capital One Software sees win-win in selling software built on the Snowflake cloud

From General Electric Corp. and Xerox Corp. at Radioshack Corp., PerkinElmer Inc. and Sears Holding Corp., the history of computing is dotted with companies that were great at using technology but not so good at making and selling it.

Capital One Financial Corp. intends to reverse this trend. Cloud co-development, he believes, has changed the landscape.

With the launch of Capital One Software last month, the financial services giant aims to transform the expertise acquired during a four-year migration and expansion on Snowflake’s cloud data warehousing platform. Inc. into a source of income.

It’s equally important that Capital One takes the opportunity to collaborate with Snowflake on new features while they’re still in the labs, like the cloud company’s recently announced Native Application Framework. It allows developers to deploy applications to the Snowflake Marketplace that customers can run directly in their Snowflake instances without moving data.

In fact, Capital One Software’s introductory video for its first data management product, called Slingshot, cites one of the company’s goals as accelerating adoption of Snowflake more broadly.

Cloud transformation

Using a cloud data warehouse has transformed Capital One, said Salim Syed, the company’s vice president of engineering. “We’ve eliminated over 55,000 hours of manual change and reduced query costs by 43%,” he said.

Like many large companies, Capital One used a Teradata Corp. for years, but the limitations of the on-site infrastructure severely limited who could use the resource and for what purposes.

“We had limitations on storage and concurrency and upgrades were a six month process,” Syed said. “Teradata had to ship the hardware to us and install it in our data center with maybe a week or two down. We are in a different world with Snowflake. There is no outage, it is very transparent and we have cross-regional resilience, which is essential for our business.

The migration to Snowflake took over a year and required the company to manage both data warehouses in parallel for some time. But there were side benefits, like the ability to streamline data and find efficiencies. For example, only 6,000 of Teradata’s 18,000 tables needed to be migrated, Syed said.

Spectacular expansion

More importantly, moving to the cloud allowed Capital One to increase the size of its data warehouse 250-fold, from 200 terabytes to 50 petabytes, with improved predictability and consistency, Syed said. It has also greatly increased the number of users who can access analytical data.

“Since we migrated, we’ve onboarded over 450 new use cases as lines of business have found that their costs will be consistent,” he said.

Slingshot was developed in-house to help Capital One better manage the use of its own cloud warehouse. The software includes preconfigured templates, custom workflows, and a variety of controls and reports that continuously monitor warehouse performance and provide insight into potential cost savings.

“We had a small team supporting 6,000 to 7,000 users running millions of queries per day,” Syed said. “We didn’t want to be a bottleneck. We wanted to empower business people to manage their own infrastructure, but with best practices and built-in safeguards. »

While saying “we feel like we have a really good product,” Syed said there’s a lot more to come. “Today, Slingshot is limited; it gives you insight into cost drivers and recommendations on improving efficiency, but it’s very command-line oriented,” he said. “We are excited to build a new [user interface] as the Streamlit part arrives.

Streamlit is the framework set for data scientists and engineers that Snowflake picked up with its purchase of Streamlit Inc. earlier this year. They enable the rapid development of analytics applications and machine learning models directly in Snowflake.

Working with software that’s still in development has its pitfalls, Syed said, noting that working with the Native Application Framework preview was “like building an airplane while taking off.” We really had to be close to Snowflake, push and pull, and learn new ways to deploy software.

But the experience was worth it for a financial services company that is also determined to be a technology leader. “We have embarked on a decade-long journey of transformation,” Syed said. “Bringing new software to the world is difficult, but our teams have perfected the means to build it with security, resilience, performance and scalability.

Photo: Capital One

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