Tabular, the vendor-neutral data store based on Apache Iceberg, raises $26M in funding

Startup Tabular Technologies Inc., creator of an independent data platform based on the open-source Apache Iceberg data lake software, said today it has closed on a $26 million round of funding.

Today’s round was led by Altimeter Capital, and saw participation from the previous lead investor of Tabular’s earlier round, Andreessen Horowitz, as well as Zetta Venture Partners. Tabular has now raised $37 million in total.

Alongside today’s round, the company also announced a preview of its data platform on Google Cloud, adding to its availability on Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure and as a MiniIO object storage solution for on-premises data centers. In addition, it’s previewing support for the popular Amazon Athena serverless query engine on AWS, adding to its existing support of the Amazon EMR, Snowflake and Starburst query engines.

Tabular was co-founded by Apache Iceberg creators Ryan Blue and Dan Weeks during their time at Netflix Inc. Iceberg is an open-source table format that provides full database functionality on top of cloud object stores, and has been widely adopted by Netflix, Amazon Web Services Inc., Snowflake Inc., Databricks Inc. and many other leading technology firms.

Blue and Weeks built Iceberg to overcome the challenges they came across when trying to use existing data lake formats such as Apache Hive, Apache Impala and Apache Spark. The problem is that those formats are all tied to primary engines and sometimes even single providers, meaning users don’t have the flexibility to use the analytics engine of their choice.

As an open-source and cloud-native table format, Apache Iceberg can work with any analytics engine. It’s designed to handle petabyte-scale object storage, and provides features including in-place table evolution, time travel with point-in-time queries, concurrent multifunction analytics and improved performance through aggressive partitioning, to handle very large-scale datasets. It means no more vendor lock-in or unnecessary data transformations, and there’s no need to move data across clouds just to extract insights from it.

“The near-universal adoption of Apache Iceberg by top-tier cloud data platforms is a testament to the need for a common table format that allows zero-copy use of data across myriad compute engines,” said Blue. “With Iceberg, businesses gain the freedom to query data however they like, and to secure their data through a single set of access controls.”

Blue and Weeks founded Tabular in 2021 alongside their Netflix colleague Jason Reid, launching in 2023 as the first independent Iceberg-based data platform in the industry. Unlike other data platforms, it doesn’t have its own compute layer, allowing customers to add the best query engine that meets their needs. According to Tabular, this frees customers from having their data held hostage by a single platform tied to one vendor.

Tabular offers companies complete compute freedom alongside additional benefits such as improved data-layer security with centralized, role-based access controls, plus integrated real-time ingestion of files, database events and streaming data. Management is automated too, with the platform continuously optimizing the storage layer to ensure faster query times.

With the addition of support for Google Cloud, customers will be able to add Tabular to Google Cloud Storage and Google BigQuery, the startup said.

Tabular’s backers seem to think the startup has a promising future in store. Jamin Ball of Altimeter Capital said the company’s independent approach appeals to lots of enterprises. “Despite their short time in-market, they have landed well known companies at platform scope and scale,” he said.

Martin Casado of Andreessen Horowitz said the appeal of Tabular is that the cloud ecosystem is consolidating around a small constellation of full-stack providers, leading to a higher risk of rent-seeking behavior. “Independent and open platforms such as Tabular offer a path to healthy competition and flexibility for enterprises,” Casado said.

Photo: Janvanbizar/Pixabay

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