Snowflake adopts open source strategy to grab data catalog mind share

June 3, 2024

Snowflake says it will open up the source code to its new Polaris Catalog, a strategy that suggests it wants to lure data catalog users away from rival Databricks’ Unity Catalog while bolstering the attractiveness of its own offering, analysts said.

“The move to launch Polaris Catalog provides a competitive response to Databricks’s Unity Catalog, thereby enhancing Snowflake’s value proposition, attracting a broader range of customers, and fostering a vibrant community around the new data catalog,” said Jayesh Chaurasia, analyst at research and advisory services firm Forrester.

How Polaris Catalog is different from Databricks’ Unity Catalog

Databricks’ Unity Catalog, which was made generally available in June 2022 and was later updated with Okera’s capabilities the following year, is a closed-sourced unified governance offering that provides centralized access control, auditing, lineage, and data discovery capabilities across Databricks workspaces.

Polaris Catalog, released during Snowflake’s annual conference this week, offers similar capabilities to Unity Catalog, but is built atop the popular open source Apache Iceberg data table format.

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“With Polaris Catalog, users now gain a single, centralized place for any engine to find and access an organization’s Iceberg tables with consistent security and full, open interoperability,” Snowflake said in a statement, adding that Polaris Catalog relies on Iceberg’s open source REST protocol, which provides an open standard for users to access and retrieve data from any engine that supports the Iceberg Rest API, including Apache FlinkApache SparkDremioPython, and Trino among others.

Read the full story, via InfoWorld.

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