Snowflake sees surge in AI analysis in cloud data warehouse

Snowflake finds GenAI analysis of data in its cloud data warehouses is rising and wants to encourage it.

The company has published a Snowflake Data Trends 2024 Report in which it looks at AI-related change in more than 9,000 users’ activities over the past 6-12 months. 

Jennifer Belissent, principal data strategist at Snowflake, said: ”Conversational apps are on the rise, because that’s the way humans are programmed to interact. And now it is even easier to interact conversationally with an application. We expect to see this trend continue as it becomes easier to build and deploy conversational LLM applications, particularly knowing that the underlying data remains well governed and protected.”

The report says: “Organizations are picking their models, creating more complex LLM applications, making AI more available to a wider range of users, and reaping the benefits of a unified data platform. There has been a lot of hype around the transformational potential of AI, but judging from what we’re seeing in the Data Cloud, the frenzied fanfare is beginning to materialize into concrete results.”

Four trends are identified in the report, the first being greater use of machine learning (ML) functions, which grew 67 percent between July 2023 and January 2024. This “indicates the enthusiasm for, and the utility of, these ‘democratizing’ functions.” 

But Snowflake admits via the report: “These are early days, and of course that growth surge starts from a relatively small initial point, but we’re excited to see sustained and growing interest in tools that put more and more of the power of advanced AI into the hands of less-technical users.”

LLM-powered apps being developed by Streamlit developers are on the rise, the report says. Streamlit is an open source Python language library that can be used in Snowflake to process data in Snowflake’s data warehouse. “Within the Streamlit developer community, between April 27, 2023, and Jan. 31, 2024, we saw 20,076 unique developers work on 33,143 LLM-powered apps (this includes apps that are still in development).”

Not all the developers are corporate ones, but most are: “In a survey of 1,479 respondents, nearly 65 percent said their LLM projects were for work.”

Python language use in the Snowflake Snowpark (non-SQL code development) environment is rocketing. It ”grew considerably faster than both Java and Scala in the last fiscal year: Python grew by 571 percent, while Scala grew by 387 percent and Java grew 131 percent.” Snowflake says Python is an AI-friendly language.

The third trend is the rise of GenAI chatbots compared to single-text-input LLMs, which Snowflake says don’t allow “refinement through iterative text input.” The report notes that Streamlit chatbot development is catching up to single-text-input LLMs, although the latter still dominates in terms of weekly use:

Snowflake’s fourth trend is increased use of its native apps. These are deployed inside Snowflake’s data cloud and the native app framework was previewed at the end of June last year. Comparing July 2023 to January 2024, Snowflake says it saw “311 percent growth in the number of Snowflake Native Apps published … 147 percent growth in installation/adoption of these applications … and usage of these apps grew 96 percent.”

The report adds that “given the choice, users want to build applications within their data platform – where the data is – rather than export copies of the data to external technologies.”

Users also want to manage access to their data in Snowflake with data governance functions restricting access to authorized users, the report states. “The use of all data governance functions has increased by 70 to 100 percent. As a result, the number of queries of protected objects has increased by 142 percent.”

Get a copy of the report here (registration required).