Data warehousing tools gather data in a central repository for use by business units in business intelligence software. Snowflake and Amazon Redshift are both leading data warehousing software options that would work for companies with different data collection policies.

IT professional working in a data center.
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The main goal of ETL software is to move data from disparate sources into a central data repository so analytics can be performed across a holistic and consistent collection of data. Commonly, this centralized data is stored in a data warehouse. The data in the data warehouse may be in the form of structured system of record data, or it may come in the form of unstructured or semi-structured big data. The data warehouses that store this aggregated mix of data are increasingly located in the cloud. Snowflake and Amazon Redshift both provide data warehousing software that can manage these jobs.

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What is Snowflake?

Snowflake is a fully managed SaaS (software as a service) that provides a single platform that can accommodate data warehouses, data lakes, and data application development. It automatically scales processing and storage to meet user needs, processes data in both batch and real- time workloads, and provides for the secure sharing and consumption of batch, real-time and shared data. Architecturally and programmatically, Snowflake uses SQL language and data structures. It works well in multi-cloud environments, offers an extremely user-friendly and robust SQL interface, and relieves staff from having to install, configure, or manage the underlying warehouse platform, including hardware and software.

SEE: Dremio vs Snowflake: Comparing two of the best ETL tools (TechRepublic)

What is Amazon Redshift?

Amazon Redshift is a cloud-based data warehouse software that is built on top of the AWS cloud computing platform. It’s ideal for companies that host a majority of their data and applications on the AWS cloud platform, since it integrates well with other AWS products and tools. Amazon Redshift processes both structured and unstructured data, in real time and batch modes. It uses parallel processing to process very large data sets and has built-in automation and scaling, but it may require some IT intervention in its installation, configuration and management. In return, Amazon Redshift gives IT flexibility in designing and optimizing the workloads that it wants to run.

Architecture in Snowflake vs. Amazon Redshift

Snowflake separates storage from processing by storing data in a separate data repository and independently sizing, scaling and executing processing elsewhere. Since the processing and data functions are segregated, there is a way to see when you are processing data and when you are not.

Amazon Redshift also separates data from storage through its RA3 instances with managed storage update, which allows customers to pay only for the storage they use. Customers also do not have to pay for materialized views, auto rewrite of queries, short query acceleration or concurrency scaling.

SEE: Databricks vs. Snowflake: ETL tool comparison (TechRepublic)

Automation vs. customization

Snowflake takes the pain out of having to manually implement and manage much of the data warehousing and query processing operation. While it does use a custom SQL query language, the language is still SQL, which most organizations have resident expertise in. Snowflake also completely manages data administration and automatically scales processing and storage for your jobs. This saves internal administration time and gives companies an easy way to execute a multitude of queries.

Like Snowflake, Amazon Redshift has a great deal of automation and it uses SQL. But Redshift also offers companies choices for how they want to configure and manage data and processing. This can be useful at times when you have to manage high query loads, and must adjust for that. Data can be manually partitioned and distributed as needed, and security can be customized to meet your organization’s security and governance requirements. For organizations that prefer more direct control over data and processing and that are heavy AWS cloud users, Amazon Redshift is a good choice.

Cloud interoperability

Snowflake operates well in a multi-cloud environment, so if your organization operates in many different clouds and needs to bring all of this data together and query it, Snowflake is a great choice.

Amazon Redshift is a data warehouse and query tool developed by AWS and is ideally suited for companies that host most of their data on AWS, and desire optimum functionality and interoperability within the AWS cloud. If your company is a heavy AWS cloud user, Amazon Redshift is a nice fit.

SEE: Hiring Kit: Cloud Engineer (TechRepublic Premium)

Data sharing

With a simple point and click, Snowflake allows users to copy databases and then share read-only access with others. This is a quick and automated way to leverage data value. At the end of each data share, the user can de-provision the data. This secures the data in its original data structure and can also save on costs.

Amazon Redshift introduced data sharing in 2020, which enables customers to get secure access to data without requiring ETL. In addition, in 2021 Amazon Redshift introduced integration to AWS Data Exchange, allowing customers to find, subscribe to and query third party data within Amazon Redshift.

Choosing Snowflake vs. Amazon Redshift for data warehousing

Both Snowflake and Amazon Redshift are proven data warehouse and processing softwares that can be deployed with ETL tools as part of the data transformation and transfer process. When evaluating these two data warehousing and processing packages, sites should consider whether they are primarily multi-cloud or single (AWS) cloud, and what the tradeoffs are between software that is highly automated (with fewer options for customization), and software that gives you more flexibility to customize it to your IT environment. For example, Amazon Redshift Serverless was launched in preview in 2021 and will allow users to run and scale analytics without the need to set up and manage data warehouse infrastructure. From a cost standpoint, both Snowflake and Amazon Redshift can be managed efficiently, so the choice really depends upon which software is the best platform for your organization.