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August 3, 2021

Ahana Grabs $20M to Grow Presto Biz

Presto startup Ahana today announced the completion of its Series A round led by Third Point Ventures, netting it $20 million in capital to grow its data lake analytics business, which currently runs on AWS but will be expanded to other clouds.

Ahana opened its virtual doors just 15 months ago, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Last July, the company completed a seed round led by the Google venture arm GV in the amount of $2.25 million. That helped give it the capital needed to complete the development of its first managed Presto offering, which debuted on AWS in December.

Since then, the San Mateo, California company has signed up dozens of paying customers who are looking for an open source data warehouse alternatives for data stored on AWS S3, according to Steven Mih, the company’s co-founder and CEO.

“Data warehouses are pretty expensive. Cloud data warehouses are not cheap, and that’s because they’re all proprietary,” Mih says. “But when you have the commodity storage layer [in S3] and you have Presto open source–wow, this probably is the most cost-effective place to run my analytics If I’m going to have a lot of data.”

One of those new customers running Ahana’s Presto query engine atop their S3 data lake is Securonix, a cybersecurity firm that develops a security event and information management (SIEM) offering. Securonix previously ran atop a distributed Hadoop architecture, and as it searched for alternatives, it discovered Presto, says Dipti Borkar, Ahana’s co-founder and chief product officer.

“They were looking at what is the best engine for the next five to 10 years to innovate on,” Borkar says. “That’s where they looked at the options and picked Presto, for the open source aspect, the fact that it was community driven, and because of the managed service.”

Presto was originally developed at Facebook in 2012 as the successor to Apache Hive, the SQL query engine that Facebook created for Hadoop. Facebook released Presto to the open source community in 2013, and it’s popularity has grown since.

Ahana is active in the open source community through the Presto Foundation, which is backed by The Linux Foundation. Mih is a board member of the Presto Foundation, which also includes Facebook, Uber, and Intel as members, and Borkar is co-chair of community outreach at the Presto Foundation.

As a query engine, Presto can work with a wide variety of data sources, from relational databases like Postgres to distributed file systems like HDFS to object stores like S3. That gives Presto a significant amount of flexibility.

But that flexibility comes at a cost, and the downside Presto is that it’s not easy to run. While companies like Facebook and Uber have the engineering resources to run it in-house, it’s not an easy lift for smaller companies. That has given an opening for managed services firms like Ahana to provide a Presto service that masks the underlying complexity of the big data analytics software.

Hiding complexity is one of the key advantages of Ahana, which won a 2020 Datanami Editor’s Choice Award in 2020 According to Mih, companies trying to run Presto themselves would normally take six months to properly configure, tune, and test their setup.

“That was the Hadoop era,” he says. “Now we can get people up and running in 30 to 45 minutes of time. They’ll do a 14-day test, just to make sure they love the concurrency, they love the performance, and then they just go pay-as-you-go. It’s all through the AWS marketplaces, by the hour in arrears, just like data busses.”

Ahana plans to use the funds to expand all aspects of its business. That includes expanding the engineering team, ramping up the open source collaboration work, and scaling the go-to-market team.

Robert Schwartz, a managing partner with Third Point Ventures, says he’s looking forward to helping Ahana Cloud take share in the emerging data analytics stack.

“As we witness the evolution of modern analytics, we’re seeing a new stack emerge adjacent to the data warehouse,” Schwartz says in a press release. “Companies need an open, flexible approach to access their data, and the data lake with Presto on top provides that.

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