Why is Snowflake a Favorite in Cloud Data Warehousing?
Since its founding in 2012, Snowflake has become the optimal data warehousing choice for organizations of all sizes and industry types. Due to its true SaaS nature, users can query data quickly, efficiently and effectively.
Why is Snowflake such a popular data warehousing solution, and what differentiates it from the competition? Here are the top 10 reasons:
- Support for leading cloud platforms
Unlike other data warehousing solutions, Snowflake uniquely supports Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. This gives IT professionals maximum flexibility within their organizations to implement the cloud platform best for them. Even more importantly, Snowflake offers seamless scalability across all three platforms.
- Multi-cluster Architecture
While scalability is expected to a degree from any reliable cloud data warehouse platform, Snowflake offers a uniquely flexible multi-cluster, shared data architecture.
The Snowflake architecture consists of three component layers:
- Database storage: The innate elasticity of cloud storage means, data can be independently stored, encrypted and compressed. Snowflake also provides additional protection of geo-redundancy to the stored data.
- Compute clusters: Also called “Virtual Warehouses”, these can simultaneously load data and run queries.
- Cloud services: This layer ties together the different components of Snowflake and performs the user requested functions. The cloud service layer runs on Snowflake compute instances.
These three layers are designed to be independently scalable. In other words, users can scale or allocate resources to individual layers based on demand during individual instances and then switch back once the demand is met. This level of “infinite” elasticity is rare even among cloud platforms.
- Virtual Data Warehouse
Another benefit of Snowflake’s unique multi-cluster architecture is its ability to create Virtual Data Warehouses (VDW), allowing it to support multiple disparate workloads. This means multiple, independent workloads, all sharing the same data, can be seamlessly operated.
- Fast Cloning (sans additional storage)
Using the CLONE command in Snowflake: It's easy for almost any user to create a copy of an object from tables and schemas to all databases. Add to that, it happens almost instantly, regardless of the size of the object. What’s more, the copy does not use any additional cloud storage space!
- Easy Object Restoration with UNDROP
It’s not uncommon for an object to be dropped, either accidentally or by error. This can be concerning if the dropped object is a massive table or even an entire database. To solve this headache, Snowflake automatically stores encrypted versions of dropped objects (up 24 hours by default with an option to purchase longer retention periods). The dropped object can be restored instantaneously using UNDROP.
In addition, the UNDROP action can be performed to restore multiple versions of an object. These objects are restored in the same order as they were dropped.
- Automatic data encryption
The Snowflake data warehouse comes with end-to-end encryption for the entire data lifecycle. This means, the user does not have to worry about setting up and configuring additional encryption features at extra cost.
With sign-in credentials, the platform provides customers with access management controls to restrict access to stored data. Data is also encrypted while at rest, during transit and during loading.
Additionally, customers can select the security and compliance features that are best suited to their individual requirements in order to obtain maximum flexibility with regard to cost.
- Virtual Private Snowflake (VPS)
Security is always a concern when it comes to cloud services, especially in highly regulated industries such as healthcare and financial services. Normally, multi-clustered cloud resources are shared by users across the service. In the Snowflake environment, the VPS service takes it a step further with a dedicated set of cloud resources. This feature was specifically developed as an additional layer of security.
With Snowflake’s VPS, all data is processed privately within a dedicated Virtual Private Cloud instance for each individual customer. Each VPS comes with its own encryption keys. Snowflake VPS also supports industry-specific compliance features such as HIPAA for healthcare and PCI DSS for financial systems.
- Automatic query optimization
A driving factor of Snowflake’s impressively fast performance is its automatic query optimization feature. Powered by a dynamic query optimization engine in its cloud services layer, it manages query planning and optimization based on data profiles. This means, no indexes, no need to figure out partitions and partition keys, no need to pre-share any data for distribution and no need to remember to update statistics.
- Support for JSON with SQL
Most new Snowflake users are excited to learn that Snowflake supports JSON and other structured and semi-structured data such as XML and that queries can be quickly made using standard ANSI SQL.
Additionally, Snowflake's columnar database engine can combine semi-structured and structured data in one location by storing and optimizing JSON documents in a table.
Snowflake also provides support to programming languages such as R, Python, Go, Java, .NET, C, Node.js, etc. for analytics.
- Pay-for-use Pricing Model
One of the primary benefits of Snowflake is the flexible pricing it offers, where storage and compute resources are charged separately. Customers pay for storage costs by average monthly usage. On the other hand, computing resources are charged by the second and depending on the size of the virtual warehouse being used.
This “on-demand” payment model gives customers excellent control in terms of scaling their warehousing needs up and down when required, without spending on unnecessary resources during idle time.
The versatility and feature-rich nature of Snowflake makes it a great value proposition, while also helping differentiate it from other solutions. Snowflake offers flexibility and scalability to all its customers - from large organizations seeking effective scalability to smaller startups that have restricted budgets but cannot compromise on quality cloud data warehousing capabilities. Snowflake is a solution for everyone.