Tabular launches with the promise of a 'headless' data warehouse

Developers of Apache Iceberg announce sign-up for their first product

Developers of Apache Iceberg — the open-source project that originated at Netflix — have launched sign-up of their first product, a data platform for the open table format, which has won support from industry big hitters including Cloudera, Google and Snowflake.

Launching the service with a blog, the company said Tabular was “everything you need in your data platform — except for compute.”

The idea is it becomes the storage half of a data warehouse that users “can easily connect” to their “tool of choice, from Python notebooks to full query engines.”

“Tabular is a managed metastore catalog integrated with role-based access controls and a swarm of automated services,” the company said.

Apache Iceberg is an open table format designed for large-scale analytical workloads while supporting query engines including Spark, Trino, Flink, Presto, Hive and Impala. The technology promises to help users bring their analytics engine of choice to their data without going through the expense and inconvenience of moving it to a new data store, and has seen Google, Snowflake, Cloudera and data lake startup Dremio announce their support.

Iceberg was developed at Netflix by Ryan Blue and Dan Weeks, now co-founder/CEO and co-founder/head of engineering at Tabular, respectively. The company was also founded by head of product Jason Reid, another Netflix alumnus.

In a blog, Blue said: “It’s been more than seven years since Dan and I met up for coffee to talk about a job at Netflix — and ended up spending the entire time talking about data infrastructure challenges. A couple years later, we saw those early ideas start coming to life when we created Apache Iceberg. We finally had a solid foundation to build on. And today we’re taking another step by releasing Tabular, our version of the data platform we dreamt up over coffee, but built with the best practices and lessons learned in the meantime by running the v1 platform at Netflix.”

In the first half of 2021, Tabular secured funding from a16z, the venture capitalist biz co-founded by web pioneer Marc Andreessen.

Although it did not disclose the investment figure, an a16z blog announcing the backing said Tabular could be thought of informally as a “headless” data warehouse.

“Where companies like Databricks and Snowflake pioneered the technical separation of storage and compute, we believe Tabular will complete the process by also separating these resources at the vendor level. This means customers will be able to mix-and-match the best data management and data processing systems to best meet their needs,” the post said. ®

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