What is Snowflake’s data architecture vs. traditional data warehousing solutions?

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What is Snowflake’s data architecture vs. traditional data warehousing solutions?

Alejandro Penzini Answered question October 17, 2023

Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehousing platform that offers a unique and innovative data architecture. Its architecture differs significantly from traditional data warehousing solutions in several ways:

Multi-cluster, shared data architecture:

Traditional data warehouses typically use a monolithic architecture, where compute and storage are tightly coupled. In contrast, Snowflake employs a multi-cluster, shared data architecture. This separation of compute and storage allows for elastic and independent scaling of these resources. Compute clusters, called virtual warehouses, can be provisioned or resized to handle specific workloads independently of the data storage.
Data sharing and multi-cloud support:

Snowflake allows organizations to share and collaborate on data easily. Users can share data across different accounts and organizations securely. Additionally, Snowflake supports a multi-cloud strategy, enabling users to leverage data across different cloud providers (e.g., AWS, Azure, and GCP) without data replication.
Automatic scaling:

Snowflake automatically manages the scaling of compute resources based on workload demands. It dynamically adjusts the number of compute nodes to optimize performance and ensure that users don’t have to worry about provisioning resources manually or over-provisioning.
Separation of compute and storage:

Traditional data warehouses often combine compute and storage, making it challenging to scale resources independently. Snowflake’s architecture separates compute from storage, allowing for more flexible and cost-efficient scaling. Data is stored in an object-based storage system, and compute clusters can be spun up or down as needed.
Zero-copy cloning:

Snowflake offers the capability to create zero-copy clones of databases, schemas, or tables. These clones do not consume additional storage space and can be used for various purposes, such as development, testing, or creating isolated environments for different teams.
Time-travel and versioning:

Snowflake provides built-in time-travel and versioning features that enable users to access historical data and revert to previous states without the need for manual backups. This simplifies data management, compliance, and data recovery.
Elastic data sharing:

Snowflake’s architecture enables seamless and secure sharing of data with external organizations and clients. Data providers can share read-only or read-write access to their data without copying or moving the data.
ACID compliance:

Snowflake ensures data consistency and reliability by enforcing ACID (Atomicity, Consistency, Isolation, Durability) compliance for all transactions, even when dealing with large volumes of data.
Built-in data integration:

Snowflake offers native support for data integration, allowing you to ingest data from various sources and formats. It has connectors for common data integration tools and supports semi-structured data like JSON, Avro, Parquet, and more.
Pay-per-use pricing model:

Snowflake’s pricing model is based on actual usage, making it cost-efficient. Users only pay for the compute and storage resources they consume, with no upfront capital investments.

Alejandro Penzini Answered question October 17, 2023