Snowflake is an analytic data warehouse provided as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS). Snowflake provides a data warehouse that is faster, easier to use, and far more flexible than traditional data warehouse offerings.

Snowflake’s data warehouse is not built on an existing database or “big data” software platform such as Hadoop. The Snowflake data warehouse uses a new SQL database engine with a unique architecture designed for the cloud. To the user, Snowflake has many similarities to other enterprise data warehouses, but also has additional functionality and unique capabilities.

Snowflake Architecture

Snowflake’s architecture is a hybrid of traditional shared-disk database architectures and shared-nothing database architectures. Similar to shared-disk architectures, Snowflake uses a central data repository for persisted data that is accessible from all compute nodes in the data warehouse. But similar to shared-nothing architectures, Snowflake processes queries using MPP (massively parallel processing) compute clusters where each node in the cluster stores a portion of the entire data set locally. This approach offers the data management simplicity of a shared-disk architecture, but with the performance and scale-out benefits of a shared-nothing architecture.