Lesson Overview

In this lesson we will introduce Snowflake and describe some of it's key differentiators and architectural features.

What Is Snowflake?

Snowflake is a modern Data Warehouse designed for the cloud era.

Data Warehouses are large databases designed to combine data from many sources across your business into one central location. When we have this joined up and organised view of all of our historical data, the data can then be used for business intelligence purposes such as reports, dashboards or data science.

Data Warehouses are optimised for analytical use cases, so can scale to support large historical datasets and a high number of concurrent users with business intelligence type workloads. This is in contrast to databases such as MySQL or PostgreSQL which are designed to support transactional workloads.

Though Data Warehousing is a very mature field, Snowflakes brings a modern approach and a cloud native architecture. This in turn enables a number of distinctive features which make it very powerful versus legacy competition, and have led to rapid adoption in industry.

Key Differentiators Of Snowflake

Some of the key differentiators of Snowflake are summarised below:

Software As A Service

Snowflake is delivered through an entirely Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) model, meaning there are no software or servers to run. Snowflakes success with the SaaS deployment model is an innovation in the data space, as until now, customers have been reluctant to hand over their strategic data to a third party.


In addition to the fully SaaS deployment model which minimises the amount of operational overhead, Snowflake remains very simple to use. For instance, there is little to do in terms of tuning parameters and management overhead as we historically needed to do with more traditional databases such as Oracle.

Usage Based Billing

Snowflake offers a genuine usage based billing model, whereby you pay by the second for the compute resources that you use, and by the byte for the storage that you consume. This means that businesses can get started with Snowflake cheaply, and there is no need for overprovisioning to support future workloads.

This pricing model is compelling compared to the traditional vendors who have high per CPU core billing models or require 24x7 server capacity to remain available.


Snowflake makes a number of innovations around performance which for some benchmarks make it the most highest performing data warehouse on the market.

Innovative Architecture

Snowflake is based on a very innovative cloud native architecture, meaning that the attractive properties of Cloud infrastructure such as it's ability to scale, it's high performance and consumption based pricing all flow through to the Snowflake solution.


In this lesson we introduced Data Warehousing and specifically Snowflake.

We discussed some of the compelling differentiating features of Snowflake and touched on some of it's architectural properties that underlie these features.

In the next lesson we will look into this architecture more deeply.

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