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Snowflake: Revolutionizing data warehousing

Guest blog by Shashank Mishra, Data Engineer @ Expedia


Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehousing platform that brings a new level of performance, simplicity, and affordability to businesses that require big data processing and analytics.


  • Introduction to snowflake
  • Key features of snowflake
  • Snowflake’s unique architecture
  • Benefits of using snowflake
  • Conclusion

Introduction to snowflake

Snowflake is a powerful, cloud-based data warehousing platform known for its unique, flexible architecture. By separating compute and storage resources, it offers scalable, efficient, and cost-effective data management. Snowflake eliminates the complexity of traditional data warehouses, offering a user-friendly, fully-managed solution. It supports various data formats and integrates well with diverse data processing tools and BI software. With robust security measures including encryption and role-based access control, Snowflake ensures data safety. Essentially, it empowers organizations to be data-driven, delivering a powerful and simple-to-use data warehouse solution in the cloud.

Image description (Source: Giphy)

Key features of snowflake

Snowflake is a powerful data warehousing platform that incorporates a broad set of capabilities designed to make data storage, retrieval, and analysis more efficient, flexible, and scalable. Let’s dive into some of the prime features that make Snowflake a standout choice in the realm of cloud data platforms:

  • Elastic Scalability: Snowflake enables you to scale up or down instantaneously. It can handle any volume of data, the number of users, or the complexity of queries without compromising performance.
  • Zero Management: Snowflake is a fully-managed service that requires no management from your end, such as indexing or tuning, and it handles all infrastructure, optimization, availability, data protection, and more.
  • Multi-Cloud Platform: Snowflake can run on multiple clouds, including AWS, Google Cloud, and Azure. This cross-cloud capability allows businesses to leverage the advantages of different cloud providers.
  • Data Sharing: Snowflake allows you to share live, ready-to-query data across your organization, with partners, or even with your customers, securely and in real time.
  • Performance and Speed: Snowflake’s unique architecture offers excellent query performance and allows for quick data retrieval, empowering businesses with real-time insights.
  • Data Security: Snowflake offers robust security features, including automatic data encryption, network policies, and role-based access control to protect your data.
  • Support for Structured and Semi-Structured Data: Snowflake natively supports JSON, Avro, XML, ORC, and Parquet, allowing you to work with various data formats in a flexible and straightforward manner.
  • Time Travel: Snowflake’s Time Travel feature enables access to historical data at any point in the past, providing easy data recovery and audit capabilities.
  • Automatic Concurrency Scaling: During high demand, Snowflake automatically spins up additional computing resources to ensure consistent, high-speed performance for all users and queries.
  • In-Database Machine Learning: Snowflake supports in-database machine learning, allowing you to train models directly where your data resides, reducing data movement and improving security and efficiency.

Image description (Source: Giphy)

Snowflake’s unique architecture
Snowflake’s architecture is a hybrid of traditional shared-disk and shared-nothing architectures with an additional layer of cloud services. This three-tier architecture consists of:

  1. Storage Layer: The base layer of Snowflake’s architecture is the database storage layer. It manages all aspects of data storage in Snowflake.
  2. Cloud Agnostic Storage: Snowflake can store an unlimited amount of structured and semi-structured data across multiple cloud platforms. It can run on AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure.
  3. Automatic Organization: Data is automatically divided into micro-partitions when loaded into Snowflake. These micro-partitions are columnar and compressed for optimal storage and query performance.
  4. Immutable Data: Once written, data in Snowflake is immutable, which provides the ability to access data at any point in time, a feature known as ‘Time Travel’.
  5. Compute Layer: The second layer is the compute layer, known as virtual warehouses. This layer is responsible for executing queries on the data.
  6. Elasticity and Separation of Compute and Storage: Virtual warehouses are independent compute resources that do not share CPU, memory, or storage, enabling them to scale up or down instantaneously based on workload, ensuring optimal performance without any contention.
  7. Multi-cluster Warehouses: For large concurrent workloads, Snowflake can automatically scale out queries across multiple compute clusters to maintain performance.
  8. Cloud Services Layer: The top layer is the cloud services layer. It coordinates and manages all aspects of Snowflake’s functionality.
  9. Security and Access Control: This layer handles tasks such as user authentication, session management, access control, and encryption.
  10. Metadata Management: Snowflake automatically maintains detailed metadata about all objects in the system, including data files, table structures, and data statistics.
  11. Query Optimization and Execution: The cloud services layer optimizes and executes all SQL queries. It compiles SQL statements into low-level code that’s executed on virtual warehouses.
  12. Transactions and ACID Compliance: Snowflake supports fully ACID-compliant transactions, ensuring data consistency and reliability. In essence, Snowflake’s unique architecture enables a highly efficient, flexible, and scalable data processing environment, making it a powerful choice for organizations seeking to leverage data for business insights.

Image description (Source: Giphy)

Benefits of using snowflake

Snowflake offers numerous advantages that make it a highly effective solution for data warehousing. These benefits, spanning from operational efficiency to strategic decision-making, are designed to cater to both technical needs and business objectives, providing an edge in today’s data-driven landscape.

  • Seamless Data Integration: Snowflake integrates effortlessly with existing data management tools, ETL/ELT solutions, and business intelligence platforms. This allows organizations to continue using their preferred tools while leveraging Snowflake’s powerful data warehousing capabilities.
  • Multi-Cloud and Cross-Cloud Capabilities: Snowflake isn’t tied to a single cloud provider. You can use it on AWS, Google Cloud, or Azure, giving you the flexibility to choose your preferred cloud vendor, leverage multi-cloud strategies, or even migrate between them.
  • Disaster Recovery: The platform’s ability to replicate data across cloud regions helps in achieving a robust disaster recovery strategy, mitigating the risk of data loss and ensuring business continuity.
  • Democratizing Data: Snowflake empowers organizations to democratize their data by making it accessible for stakeholders across the organization. The increased availability of data for business users can drive data-driven decisions at all levels of the organization.
  • Collaboration and Data Exchanges: Snowflake data exchange allows organizations to share live data with their business partners, creating collaborative opportunities and enabling more informed decision-making across the business ecosystem.
  • Reduced Total Cost of Ownership (TCO): With its fully managed services, Snowflake reduces the need for extensive in-house data management and infrastructure, bringing down the total cost of ownership. The resources saved can be utilized for business-critical operations and innovation.
  • Resource Optimization: Snowflake’s separate compute and storage resources allow organizations to optimize resource usage based on their specific needs. This not only enhances performance but also results in cost savings by ensuring resources are not wasted.
  • Business Agility: With its robust features, scalability, and ease of use, Snowflake empowers businesses to be more agile. Organizations can rapidly adapt to changes, whether it’s increased demand, new data sources, or evolving business needs.

Image description (Source: Giphy)


Snowflake is a comprehensive data warehousing solution designed for the cloud era. Its unique architecture and suite of features empower organizations to handle vast amounts of data with ease, speed, and flexibility. From effortless integration with existing tools to unparalleled scalability, and from secure real-time data sharing to cost-effective operations, Snowflake offers a transformative approach to data management. It ensures that businesses of all sizes and industries can leverage data effectively to derive valuable insights, make informed decisions, and ultimately, drive growth and innovation in an increasingly data-centric world. Whether you’re a small business looking to harness the power of data or a large enterprise aiming to optimize your data operations, Snowflake stands as a compelling choice in the realm of cloud data warehousing.

In episode 3 of data warehouse series, we’ll explore Google BigQuery.

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Top comments (1)

vivienne-m profile image
Vivienne Medrano

Great article! It brilliantly captures the transformative impact of cloud-based solutions on the traditional enterprise data warehouse landscape. Snowflake's innovative approach not only streamlines data management but also underscores the evolving nature of modern data architecture, making it a must-read for professionals navigating the complexities of contemporary data warehousing solutions.