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[Herald Interview] Snowflake seeks to expand presence in Korea

After securing partnerships with Samsung, LG companies, US firm eyes attracting corporate clients in digital finance

July 5, 2023 - 16:32 By Jie Ye-eun

Torsten Grabs, senior director of product management at Snowflake (Snowflake)

US cloud software company Snowflake launched its Korean unit in 2021 with the aim of attracting big-name local companies such as Samsung and LG as lucrative corporate clients.

In Korea, many large conglomerates operate their own IT solutions providers, but during these times of digital transformation and the development of artificial intelligence, it has become a lot trickier to store and process vast amounts of information and make the best use of them on their own.

"With Snowflake’s strong focus on enterprise customers, the Korean market resonates particularly well since it is strong, in terms of manufacturing, gaming, retail and consumer packaged goods,” Torsten Grabs, a senior director of product management at Snowflake, told The Korea Herald during a recent Zoom interview.

"Many companies have been developing strategies to leverage AI and large language model technologies in their businesses. … There are a number of world-class enterprises in Korea that have strong data needs and that cater very well to our enterprise focus," he said.

Established in July 2012, the cloud computing-based data firm has offered data storage, processing and analytic solutions that are quicker, more user-friendly and more versatile than traditional offerings.

Snowflake is also well known here as billionaire Warren Buffett and many Korean retail investors have purchased the firm’s Nasdaq-listed shares.

In November 2021, Snowflake officially kicked off its business in Korea, intending to secure 20 local customers every quarter. The company aims to take up more than half of Korea’s public cloud market by 2026. Of 7,800 global customers, 100 of them are Korean customers so far, according to its Korean office. One of its key customers here is Hankook Tire & Technology, the nation’s largest tire maker.

After less than two years of business operations in Korea, it was also able to secure about 64 system integration partners -- including Samsung SDS, LG CNS and SK C&C -- which are IT service units of the nation’s top chaebol groups, taking advantage of positioning as the only “cross-cloud” solution provider, Grabs said.

Its solution allows users to build powerful global data value chains “literally with one mouse click,” which compares to time-consuming and costly steps that existing solutions require to grant access to data.

“Enterprises can break down their data silos and provide the most up-to-date data sets with a single repository. Users can seamlessly bridge across regions, as well as different cloud providers,” he said.

According to market tracker Allied Market Research, the global data warehouse-as-a-service market is growing at a faster pace and is estimated to reach $51.18 billion by 2028.

"The fast-paced development of generative AIs and large language models will provide another big opportunity for us by providing more natural experiences for even non-technical users to make good use of data that they have in Snowflake's data architecture," Grabs said.

Snowflake is also seeking to expand its presence in Korea’s digital finance market as it recently gained a business license to work as a qualified cloud service provider in May. One of its potential business areas is its MyData service, which allows users to access their financial information scattered across different financial firms comprehensively through a single online platform.