October 22, 2014

Snowflake Computing

I talked with the Snowflake Computing guys Friday. For starters:

Much of the Snowflake story can be summarized as cloud/elastic/simple/cheap.*

*Excuse me — inexpensive. Companies rarely like their products to be labeled as “cheap”.

In addition to its purely relational functionality, Snowflake accepts poly-structured data. Notes on that start:

I don’t know enough details to judge whether I’d call that an example of schema-on-need.

A key element of Snowflake’s poly-structured data story seems to be lateral views. I’m not too clear on that concept, but I gather:

Lateral views seem central to how Snowflake handles nested data structures. I presume Snowflake also uses or plans to use them in more traditional ways (subqueries, table functions, and/or complex FROM clauses).

If anybody has a good link explaining lateral views, please be so kind as to share! Elementary googling isn’t turning much up, and the Snowflake folks didn’t send over anything clearer than this and this.

Highlights of Snowflake’s cloud/elastic/simple/inexpensive story include:

Snowflake pricing is based on the sum of:

Right now the cheaper class of EC2 node uses spinning disk, while the more expensive uses flash; soon they’ll both use flash.

DBMS 1.0 versions are notoriously immature, but Snowflake seems — or at least seems to think it is — further ahead than is typical.

Other DBMS technology notes include:

In the end, a lot boils down to how attractive Snowflake’s prices wind up being. What I can say now is:


5 Responses to “Snowflake Computing”

  1. Is analytic data management finally headed for the cloud? | DBMS 2 : DataBase Management System Services on October 22nd, 2014 4:48 am

    […] Snowflake Computing launched with a cloud strategy. […]

  2. Aniruddha on October 6th, 2015 1:54 am

    How may I connect informatica to snowflake database?

  3. Eugene on January 29th, 2017 1:45 pm

    Here is link about a Later View. It’s specific to Hive but it has an easy to read explanation/example. https://cwiki.apache.org/confluence/display/Hive/LanguageManual+LateralView

  4. antonio romero on July 13th, 2017 2:39 pm

    Doesn’t seem like you’ve done much followup coverage on Snowflake. A little surprising. I look to you for the smart take on so many things, I’m disappointed :/ Any reason?

  5. Stuart Ozer on August 30th, 2017 5:28 pm

    Snowflake now offers all customers access to both 100TB and 10TB versions of TPC-DS (and all 99 of its query patterns) for exploring SQL compatibility and performance in the cloud.

    Details are here: https://www.snowflake.net/tpc-ds-now-available-snowflake-samples/

    We believe this is the largest sample database available on any platform today, and proves the scalability and cost-effectiveness of Snowflake’s unique architecture for analytic workloads.

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