Ascend.io is making data ingestion free for Snowflake users.Data ingestion is the process of obtaining and importing data that later gets transformed and prepared for analysis. It is often costly and complex, and can be a barrier that prevents organizations from building data pipelines and using data analysis to fuel decisions.Tools that can simplify the process and keep down costs can aid data-informed decision-making. Now, through its partnership with data cloud vendor Snowflake, Ascend.io provides Free Ingest at no cost for Snowflake users. Ascend.io does not publicize pricing details but offers its capabilities as a platform rather than individual pieces and charges on a pay-per-use basis. Free Ingest eliminates the per-use charges that would be applied for ingesting data into Snowflake. It is designed to eliminate the cost of the expensive data ingestion process, reduce its complexity and increase data security, according to the vendor. Vendors specializing in data ingestion include Coefficient, Fivetran, Precisely and Wavefront. For example, Precisely starts at just $49 per month for one data source and a maximum of 5,000 rows of data. The vendor offers another option at $99 per user, per month for one data source and unlimited rows of data. For true enterprise scale, pricing is not made public. Data ingestion, however, is only a small part of what Ascend.io does, noted Tom Weeks, chief business officer at Ascend.io. Therefore, with customers paying for time spent on data observability, orchestration, transformation and delivery, Ascend.io can afford to offer the capability to Snowflake users at no cost, he said. By making its data ingestion capabilities available free of charge to Snowflake users, the company is aiming to help them accelerate time to value … but also -- no doubt -- [seeding] the ground for adoption of the broader Data Automation Cloud. Matt AslettAnalyst, Ventana Research By offering data ingestion at no cost to joint Ascend.io and Snowflake customers, Ascend.io can make data ingestion easier for joint users while potentially attracting new customers, according to Matt Aslett, an analyst at Ventana Research. "By making its data ingestion capabilities available free of charge to Snowflake users, the company is aiming to help them accelerate time to value … but also -- no doubt -- [seeding] the ground for adoption of the broader Data Automation Cloud," he said. Similarly, Kevin Petrie, an analyst at Eckerson Group, noted that the primary benefit of giving data ingestion capabilities away to a group of customers for free is the potential to attract customers for other services. "Ascend.io delivers value to customers with its ability to transform data, then orchestrate and optimize the pipelines that deliver that data for consumption," he said. "By giving away ingestion, they seek to increase their user base for the value-added capabilities." Meanwhile, Weeks noted that Ascend.io has found that data ingestion -- the first step in the supply chain of data -- can become a hindrance for organizations that want to move data into the cloud. When they use one vendor for data ingestion, another for data preparation, another for observability and still another for data analysis, not only does the total cost mount but the complexity of navigating multiple systems halts some organizations before they ever get started. Therefore, Weeks said that while Ascend.io hopes to attract more customers by offering data ingestion capabilities for free to Snowflake users, he said it also simplifies data migration and can make it more secure. When data ingestion capabilities are part of a connected set of data management tools within one platform rather than pieced together with tools from other vendors, complexity is reduced while security is increased, given that data doesn't have to move between tools, Weeks continued. That is a key selling point for Ascend.io, Petrie said. "Data engineers need to support a rising number of users, use cases, data sources, targets and platforms, and automated pipeline tools such as Ascend.io help them do so with less effort and complexity," he said. Charges for data ingestion make up only a small percentage of Ascend.io's revenues, according to Weeks. "We decided to make that first part, which we would argue is the least valuable because all you're doing is moving data from one place to another, and take it off the table so organizations don't have to worry about it -- unlimited scale if you're moving it into Snowflake," he said. "It's a small part of what our customers are doing." Weeks noted, however, that while data migration into Snowflake is free, Snowflake charges for data storage.
Although Free Ingest is currently available for only Snowflake, Weeks said Ascend.io is looking at extending the feature to users of cloud data storage platforms from vendors such as Databricks and cloud computing giants Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft by the end of 2023. Beyond Free Ingest, Ascend.io's roadmap for the next year includes architecting its tools to better enable data mesh and data fabric, according to Weeks. Data mesh and data fabric are decentralized approaches to analytics that remove the burdens of data preparation and analysis from a centralized team and enables data teams within departments to manage and analyze their own data. The intent is to free data scientists and IT personnel to do deeper data exploration while taking advantage of the domain expertise of employees in different departments. In particular, Ascend.io is working on improving the data lineage within data mesh and data fabric. "Both data mesh and data fabric have a common set of business drivers around being able to push out the ownership of data closer to the edge," Weeks said. "There's a lot of goodness in those two together. We've been architecting for that part of the equation for many years now, and it will all be coming to a head next year." Ventana Research's Aslett, meanwhile, noted that Ascend.io has struggled to establish itself in a competitive data management market with not only data ingestion specialists but also vendors including Matillion and Denodo, along with tools from tech giants, such as AWS Glue. Competitive strategies to attract customers -- like offering data ingestion for free -- are necessary. "Ascend.io has a relatively low profile and could expand on [its] attempts to articulate the value of [the] Data Automation Cloud," he said. In April, the data platform vendor secured $31 million in Series B venture capital funding to bring its total financing to $50 million.