Segment adds Google BigQuery to lineup of supported cloud data warehouses

Segment Warehouses

Data collection and integration company Inc. has added Google’s BigQuery to its lineup of data warehousing platforms, joining Postgres and Amazon Web Services’ Redshift.

The company said the addition of BigQuery as a processing engine gives customers an important new option for conducting analytics using the SQL query language. “You don’t have to build out your own ETL [extract/transform/load] process to stream data from your mobile apps, websites, and second-party data sources into a data warehouse,” wrote Julie-Jennifer Nguyen of Segment product marketing. “Segment Warehouses schematize and loads this data for you out of the box.”

Segment Chief Executive Peter Reinhardt said the move also has symbolic value as a microcosm of the cloud wars. “When Amazon launched Redshift, we saw massive adoption as a place people wanted to put all their customer data,” he said. “We’re now seeing people moving from Redshift to BigQuery.”

The reason, Reinhardt said, is that Redshift requires customers to manage their own clusters and servers. In contrast, BigQuery “has separated the scaling of compute with the scaling of disk space. That means customers no longer have to manage a cluster, and they aren’t tied to CPU and disk space. They can throw everything into BigQuery and scale automatically.” He added that in the month since BigQuery support became available in beta test, about 10 percent of Segment’s customers have adopted it. “It’s so cheap to store the data that it makes sense for every customer to do it,” he said.

Launched in 2012, Segment has grown to 115 employees and 8,000 customers – while also raising $44 million – by filling a gap in the crowded marketing automation landscape. Most marketing automation tools are self-contained, meaning that they use a common database to reach customers through multiple channels. In contrast, Segment pulls data from more than 180 sources, including web analytics platforms, customer relationship management applications, email servers and raw data sources into a single store that customers can then direct to their marketing tools of choice.

“Customer data is scattered across lots of different interaction points,” Reinhardt said. “We’re the pipe holding this ecosystem together.” Its engine is now capable of extracting data from about 10,000 sources into a “single view of the customer,” he added.

Google added ANSI-standard SQL 2011 support to BigQuery this spring, addressing a major perceived shortcoming of the services, which previously required a proprietary version of the ubiquitous query language. The company is emphasizing simplicity and automation as selling points against Redshift and on-premises data warehouses. Many analysts expect cloud-based services to drive the growth of the data warehousing and Hadoop markets going forward.

BigQuery support carries no additional charges for Segment customers. Google is offering those customers a $300 credit to sign up.