Databricks snaps up data management startup Tabular

Databricks logo displayed on a smartphone screen placed on laptop keyboard.
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Databricks has announced it has agreed to acquire Tabular, a data management startup led by the original creators of Apache Iceberg, in a deal reportedly totalling north of $1 billion.

Based in San Jose, California, Tabular was founded in 2021 by Netflix alumni Ryan Blue, Daniel Weeks, and Jason Reid, and helps customers navigate their data infrastructure challenges through its independent data platform. Last year, the firm raised $26 million in a funding round to drive development of its product.

Databricks itself was founded in 2013 and developed the Linux Foundation Delta Lake lakehouse system. By combining these two leading open source lakehouse formats, the firm said it will bring format compatibility to the lakehouse – first inside its Delta Lake UniForm offering, before working towards the longer-term plan of a single, open, and common interoperability standard.

In an announcement, Ali Ghodsi, co-founder and CEO at Databricks, said the two companies will work towards a “joint vision” of the open lakehouse that will bridge the gap between Delta Lake and Iceberg and help companies maintain control of their data without the burden of vendor lock-in.

“Databricks and Tabular will work with the open-source community to bring the two formats closer to each other over time, increasing openness, and reducing silos and friction for customers,” he explained.

“Last year, we announced Delta Lake UniForm to bring interoperability to these two formats, and we’re thrilled to bring together the foremost leaders in open data lakehouse formats to make UniForm the best way to unify your data for every workload.”

Delta Lake UniForm provides interoperability across Delta Lake, Iceberg, and Hudi and supports the Iceberg restful catalog interface, allowing organizations to use familiar analytics engines and tools across all their data. Databricks said the addition of the Iceberg team will “greatly broaden the ambitions” of the offering.

Databricks eyes greater interoperability

Databricks will work closely with the Delta Lake and Iceberg communities to achieve its vision of interoperability – but the firm cautioned that the convergence of the two offerings is expected to be a long process and one that is likely to take “several years” to achieve.

Upon completion of the deal – which is due to close by the end of July, subject customary closing conditions – Tabular’s team of around 40 staff are expected to join Databricks.

“We created Apache Iceberg to solve critical data challenges around correctness, performance, and scalability,” commented Ryan Blue, co-Founder and CEO at Tabular. “It’s been amazing to see both Iceberg and Delta Lake grow massively in popularity, largely fueled by the open lakehouse becoming the industry standard.

“With Tabular joining Databricks, we intend to build the best data management platform based on open lakehouse formats so that companies don’t have to worry about picking the ‘right’ format or getting locked into proprietary data formats.”

Daniel Todd

Dan is a freelance writer and regular contributor to ChannelPro, covering the latest news stories across the IT, technology, and channel landscapes. Topics regularly cover cloud technologies, cyber security, software and operating system guides, and the latest mergers and acquisitions.

A journalism graduate from Leeds Beckett University, he combines a passion for the written word with a keen interest in the latest technology and its influence in an increasingly connected world.

He started writing for ChannelPro back in 2016, focusing on a mixture of news and technology guides, before becoming a regular contributor to ITPro. Elsewhere, he has previously written news and features across a range of other topics, including sport, music, and general news.