How to store your data: Is Redshift or Snowflake a better fit for your business?

I am going to cover a few areas to help educate you and help you make the decision whether Amazon Redshift or Snowflake is a better data warehouse for your business. For this article, I am focusing on three main categories for you to consider: security, performance, and pricing.

How do these two cloud-based data warehouses compare to one another?

Redshift is a solid cost-efficient solution for enterprise-level implementations. Snowflake is a good warehouse to start small and grow with. If team lacks experienced technical resources, then Snowflake might be a good start for your business. If you have experienced resources in this area, Redshift would be a great warehouse for your company. Here are some quick highlights:

Amazon Redshift


  • Deep discounts when your commitment is for a longer term
  • More unified offer package
  • Security and compliance enforced in a thorough manner for all users
  • Machine learning engine can be easily attached
  • Little more hands-on maintenance




  • Pay separately for compute and storage
  • More robust support for JSON-based functions
  • Tier-based packages
  • Security and compliance options will be different by tier
  • Unique architecture designed to scale on the web
  • More automated database maintenance features

While Redshift addresses security and compliance in a very thorough manner, Snowflake takes a more subtle approach.

Security: Choose your warehouse wisely

Redshift’s encryption from start to finish can be tailored to fit any security requirements. Redshift can also be isolated within the network by being placed in a Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and then linked to an existing infrastructure (VPN). Another nice feature that can help businesses to meet audit and compliance requirements is Redshift’s ability to integrate with AWS CloudTrail. The wealth of logs and analytics that you can access with CloudTrail will help you with debugging issues and shed light on performance issues.

Snowflake also handles end-to-end encryption and automatically encrypts the data in transport and at rest. You are able to isolate your data in Snowflake with options VPC/VPN. A big differentiator between Snowflake and Redshift is the how security and compliance features vary based on which edition of Snowflake you purchase. This is where you have to carefully consider which edition of Snowflake will cover your needs.

Performance: New Redshift features compete with Snowflake

Snowflake and Redshift both utilize columnar storage, meaning data is stored by columns instead of rows, and parallel processing, which computes separate parts of the overall tasks that are broken up. These allow for simultaneous processing which will save your analytical team a lot of time when processing very large jobs.

Snowflake articulates that its performance is driven by its architecture design that supports structured and semi-structured data. It places the storage, compute, and cloud services separately to optimize their independent performances.

Both Redshift and Snowflake offer concurrency-scaling features, which adds and removes computational capacity to handle ever-changing demand, and machine learning to really add value to their warehouses.

Pricing: Don’t stop at the sticker price but also consider long-term benefits

Both warehouses offer on-demand pricing and bundled feature packages. Comparing the differently bundled features really provides distinction between the two.

Things to consider as you evaluate the tools:

  • Snowflake separates compute usage from storage in their pricing structures.
  • AWS Redshift offers users a dedicated daily amount of concurrency scaling. After usage is exceeded, Redshift charges by the second.
  • Snowflake automatically includes concurrency scaling.
  • Redshift gloats the potential for deep discounts over the long term if you commit to a one or three year contract. Redshift does offer an option to pay and hourly rate.
  • Snowflake offers five pricing options with additional features tied to each increasing the level of price.

As you make your final decision on which of the two warehouse is a better fit for your business, make sure you look at what you need specifically around data volume, processing power, and analytical requirements. Look for the right warehouse that will improve your accuracy and speed of data-driven decisions. Lastly, look at the resources that you have inside your business to ensure that you will be able to support the warehouse that you choose.

Which warehouse makes sense for your business?
Both AWS Redshift and Snowflake offer free trials to their products to help companies experience their solutions value first hand.

Below are some additional comparisons to help guide you to picking the right solution.

  • Security: Redshift includes a deep bench of encryption solutions, but Snowflake provides security and compliance features oriented to which of the five options you choose.
  • Bundled features: Redshift bundles compute and storage to provide the immediate solution that can scale to an enterprise level data warehouse. Snowflake provides a business the flexibility to purchase only the features they need while giving the capability to scale later.
  • JSON: Both warehouse store JSON but Snowflake JSON support is a little bit stronger then Redshift. When you load JSON into Redshift you can use their build in functions but there are limitations where as Snowflake you can store and query JSON natively.

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