Snowflake gives users the ability to unlock the power behind their data. According to Forrester’s Total Economic Impact Study, Snowflake users can expect an ROI of 612 percent and total benefits of more than $21 million over three years- that’s huge. With Snowflake’s features, users can expect to launch new products and improvements a lot faster, have faster access to data and have simplified data operations that add up to millions in savings. Although they aren’t the only cloud-based database management system, there’s a lot to Snowflake that you can dive into, but there are some things that you might not know Snowflake does and you should.
Time Travel and Data Recovery
Snowflake’s time travel feature allows users to easily access historical data at any point within a defined period of time, create clones of tables or databases from the past, or restore tables, schemas or databases that have been dropped. These are critical features to understand since they will save users so much development time and frustration and will improve time to market. The default retention period is one day and can be extended to 90 days for enterprise and higher versions. This feature will save users a lot of time, especially if a mistake is made or data is deleted. Users can use the time travel feature to refer back to the data before that change was made or use the tool to make clones of data from a past point in time.
The UNDROP command is also a very useful feature if you accidentally drop a table or need to recover objects instantly as long as you are within the recovery window. Snowflake has a lot of very useful tricks up its sleeve when it comes to recovering historical data and that is critical when developing new products or working on enhancements.
According to the same Forrester study, users have experienced product launches and enhancements faster because of features like these that allowed their organizations to generate incremental revenue more quickly, resulting in higher profits.
Semi-Structured Data and Data Optimization
Cloning data is traditionally a pain and takes a lot of development hours with having to create test environments, but with Snowflake, that isn’t necessary. Snowflake’s zero-copy feature avoids additional storage costs and allows users to clone a database or table without actually making a copy. Snowflake does this by tracking changes to the clone on its metadata store while in the back-end still referencing the same data files-genius. The Forrester study also reported how database management and its overall infrastructure meant millions of dollars in cost savings because of its high performance, scalability depending on workload requirements without having to get the IT team involved. Teams can work independently without having to take up a lot of other resources to get the job done.
Snowflake also simplifies data optimization as well by just…doing it for you. With micro-partitions and data clustering, the user is completely hands-off and doesn’t have to get a huge headache over indexes, partitions or shard data since Snowflake does that for the user as the data is loaded into tables.
One of the biggest features of Snowflake is its ability to work with semi-structured and structured data without using other technologies. Snowflake can support data coming in from multiple sources in a number of different forms. Also, with its Snowpipe service, Snowflake continuously provides a pipeline of new data in micro-batches as soon as it’s ready rather than having to do it manually. This allows businesses to really benefit from their data in real-time and at a massive scale. This automation and data analysis that’s being performed will help decision-makers learn from multiple sources of their business from their clients to their own products and make data-driven decisions that much faster. It provides a constant flow of data whenever you need it.
Create a Snowflake Data Marketplace
The Snowflake data marketplace is a very unique and big cost-savings feature for users. For partners or customers who need access to a provider’s shared data, the provider can create a reader account so they can have access to the data without having a Snowflake account. This makes it really easy for an organization to create a network of shared data whether it’s paid or free.
If one Snowflake user is sharing data with another account, the data isn’t actually copied which saves on storage space and additional costs that might otherwise accrue. You can share objects freely within your account without worrying about running out of space.
Especially with cloud-based technologies, a lot of organizations are hyper-sensitive these days to cybersecurity threats and possible data breaches- and rightfully so no matter where your data is stored. According to the 2021 Annual Data Breach Report, the overall number of data compromises is up more than 68 percent compared to 2020. Security features should definitely be at the top of your checklist and Snowflake is offering critical features to help ensure your data is kept safe and secure. For object security, there is controlled access for all objects in the account including users, warehouses, databases and tables with discretionary access control and role-based access. This controlled access allows only cleared individuals to access and perform certain actions to objects.
Also, for enterprise and business critical editions, all files that are being stored for data loading and unloading are automatically encrypted using AES-256 strong encryption and periodic rekeying of encrypted data. If the periodic rekeying feature is enabled, Snowflake automatically creates a new encryption key and re-encrypts all the data using a new key when the old key hits its expiration date (one year). Snowflake offers end-to-end encryption and data encryption management right out of the box.
Row-level security (RLS) and Column Level Security (CLS) are key features as well allowing users to mask sensitive data depending on the user’s level of authorization and role. These filters simplify the process and roles can also be customized and granted to other roles creating an entire hierarchy system. While there are custom roles a user can create, Snowflake does have system-defined roles in the account that cannot be dropped and the privileges granted to these roles cannot be revoked which is why it’s ideal to create custom roles for any unique or additional privileges for certain users.
Snowflake is feature-rich with amenities that directly impact the bottom line and operations in a very positive way and it’s critical to onboard users properly to maximize ROI when using such a powerful platform.