Amazon RedShift

Amazon Redshift vs. Snowflake

Intelligent decision-making based on data is the soul of today's successful companies. Cloud data warehouses are used by most businesses to store operational data and facilitate business intelligence and data analysis.


Cloud-based data warehouses Snowflake and Redshift both offer a wide range of exciting alternatives for managing large data sets. Both Snowflake and Redshift have their similarities and differences, so let’s dive into them!


Using Snowflake’s data warehouse, you can analyze structured and layered data with ease. It is possible to develop scalable modern data architectures with maximum flexibility and little downtime using this SaaS (software-as-a-service). Using a SQL database engine simplifies understanding and use of the data warehouse. As a result, Snowflake allows you to use third-party services like Amazon S3 or Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) instances to store data. Snowflake’s design is simple, quick, and adaptable because it makes use of a notion known as “virtual warehouse”. Using this virtual warehouse, you can establish numerous data warehouses on top of the database storage service. A query service layer sits above this virtual warehouse and maintains the architecture, query optimization, and safety of the virtual data warehouse. This design allows you to conduct a variety of tasks at the same time without influencing one another.

Snowflake Advantages

  • It’s a cloud-based software service with an intuitive online interface.
  • As it separates the computation from the storage, it allows users to scale up or down according to their needs, and charges accordingly.
  • Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform (GCP), and others can all be accessed via this multi-cloud platform.
  • It has a self-maintenance feature.
  • It can read and write JSON and other semi-structured data formats.

Snowflake Disadvantages

  • Cloud computing is the primary mode of operation, and on-premises infrastructure is not supported.
  • In most cases, Amazon Redshift will be less expensive.
  • If you’re using an older model, it may not be up to snuff in terms of security compliance.
  • Snowpipe, SnowSQL, Snowpark, and other tools are required to operate with Snowflake, making it difficult for non-technical users to interact with it.
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There are a number of data warehouse solutions offered by Amazon, including Redshift, which is meant to store and analyze enormous amounts of data in real-time for commercial purposes. Users may also implement Machine Learning capabilities into their Redshift clusters thanks to Redshift ML’s straightforward, safe and efficient interface with Amazon SageMaker. It has a columnar data format and a query layer that is compatible with PostgreSQL. By allowing customers to run SQL queries directly on Amazon S3 bucket data and supporting additional data types including JSON, Parquet, ORC, Avro, and other file formats using Amazon Redshift Spectrum, a feature of Amazon Redshift, users may execute faster and more complete analyses of their data. The Data warehouse capabilities of Amazon Redshift can be bolstered with the addition of Redshift Spectrum. Amazon Redshift’s integration with the AWS big data ecosystem is a notable feature. It’s a one-stop shop for creating data loading and processing pipelines using ETL. Additionally, it provides near real-time analytics with streaming data input and query optimization.

The architecture of Amazon Redshift is based on a shared-nothing model. Each compute node in this system has its own dedicated memory, disk space, and CPU. These nodes are grouped together by the service. When it comes to running queries and communicating with other cluster members, each node has a leader node that takes care of everything. Multiple databases can be built on a single cluster, and the architecture facilitates frequent inserts and updates. The ability to share data across several clusters is another feature of Redshift. It eliminates the need to duplicate data between clusters and databases, or even across various AWS accounts. In contrast to Snowflake, Amazon Redshift is better suited for high-performance applications. They also allow for the usage of other business intelligence tools, such as Excel spreadsheets. For those that need to execute complex queries on big amounts of data, Amazon Redshift provides a scalable and affordable solution. Amazon Redshift RA3 nodes come with managed storage, allowing you to scale and pay for computation and managed storage independently in order to optimize your data warehouse. RA3 lets you customize the number of nodes to meet your specific performance needs, and it only bills you for the managed storage you really use.

Redshifts Unique Value Proposition 

Redshift stands out from other services due to its unique features and design. Unlike traditional databases, Redshift is an OLAP-style column-oriented database that is based on PostgreSQL. This means that regular SQL queries can be used with Redshift, which provides familiarity and ease of use for users.

However, what truly sets Redshift apart is its ability to handle large databases with exabytes of data and deliver lightning-fast query performance. This is made possible through its innovative Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) design, which was developed by ParAccel. With MPP, Redshift leverages the power of numerous computer processors working in parallel to perform complex computations.

What makes Redshift’s MPP design even more remarkable is that it is hardware-agnostic. Unlike most MPP vendors, ParAccel, the creator of the technology, does not sell specific MPP devices. Instead, Redshift’s software can be used on any hardware, allowing users to harness the power of multiple processors across a network of servers.

The development of Redshift itself was the result of a significant capital investment by AWS in ParAccel, enabling AWS to utilize the cutting-edge MPP technology in their cloud-based database service. As a result, Redshift benefits from the expertise and advancements of ParAccel while being seamlessly integrated into the AWS ecosystem.

In summary, Redshift offers the unique combination of an OLAP-style column-oriented database with the power of ParAccel’s MPP technology. Together, these features enable Redshift to efficiently process queries on massive databases, delivering impressive performance and making it a standout choice for data analysts and businesses dealing with vast amounts of data.

Redshift Ideal Scenarios

Amazon Redshift is an ideal choice when dealing with massive datasets that are typically at a petabyte scale (1015 bytes). It leverages its powerful Massively Parallel Processing (MPP) technology, which is most effective at this scale. Besides the sheer size of the data, there are specific scenarios where Redshift proves to be the go-to solution.

Real-time analytics is one such scenario. Many companies, like Uber, rely on making prompt decisions based on real-time data. Uber, for instance, needs to determine surge pricing, assign drivers, plan routes, and consider traffic conditions across the globe. Redshift’s MPP capabilities allow for quick access and processing of both historical and ongoing data, enabling efficient decision-making and ensuring smooth operations.

Another use case for Redshift is the need to combine and analyze multiple data sources. This includes structured, semi-structured, and unstructured data, which traditional business intelligence tools often struggle to handle. With Redshift, organizations gain the ability to process diverse data structures from different sources, making it a powerful tool in such scenarios.

Business intelligence is a crucial aspect for organizations, where data needs to be accessible to various stakeholders, including non-technical users. Redshift facilitates the creation of highly functional dashboards and automatic report generation, providing an easy-to-use interface for users who may not be familiar with programming tools. Teaming up Redshift with tools like Amazon Quicksight or third-party solutions developed by AWS partners makes business intelligence more efficient and user-friendly.

Log analysis is another important use case for Redshift. Behavior analytics, encompassing user interactions, application usage patterns, sensor data, and various other indicators, helps derive valuable insights. Redshift enables the collection and aggregation of such complex datasets from multiple sources, such as web applications on desktops, mobile phones, or tablets. Analyzing this coalesced data using Redshift facilitates in-depth understanding of user behavior.

While Redshift can also be utilized for traditional data warehousing, alternative solutions like the S3 data lake may be more suitable for such purposes. However, Redshift can still perform operations on data stored in S3, providing the flexibility to save outputs in either S3 or Redshift itself.

Redshift Advantages

There are numerous benefits to utilizing AWS Redshift, making it a valuable choice for organizations dealing with large volumes of data. Here are some key advantages of using AWS Redshift:

1. Cost-Efficiency: One of the most distinctive advantages of AWS Redshift is its cost-benefit. Compared to competitors like Teradata and Oracle, Redshift costs only a fraction of the price, making it a cost-effective option for organizations.

2. Unparalleled Speed: Redshift leverages MPP (Massively Parallel Processing) technology, enabling unmatched speed in delivering output for large data sets. The efficient utilization of resources ensures swift performance, surpassing that of other cloud service providers.

3. Data Encryption: AWS provides robust data encryption capabilities for Redshift operations. Users have the freedom to choose which parts of Redshift require encryption, thereby enhancing data security with an additional layer of protection.

4. Compatibility with Familiar Tools: Built on PostgreSQL, Redshift allows users to employ their existing SQL, ETL (Extract, Transform, Load), and BI (Business Intelligence) tools. This flexibility enables seamless integration with familiar tools, eliminating the need to adopt new software.

5. Intelligent Optimization: Redshift offers tools and information to optimize queries, ensuring improved efficiency and better utilization of the database. With intelligent query optimization and automatic database improvement tips, Redshift facilitates faster operations while minimizing resource consumption.

6. Automation of Repetitive Tasks: Redshift allows users to automate repetitive tasks such as generating regular reports, auditing resources and costs, and performing routine data maintenance. This automation feature saves time and streamlines operations.

7. Concurrent Scaling: Redshift automatically scales up to accommodate increasing workloads, ensuring optimal performance even with thousands of concurrent queries. The MPP technology employed by Redshift facilitates efficient allocation of processing and memory resources to handle higher demands seamlessly.

8. Seamless AWS Integration: Redshift seamlessly integrates with other AWS services, enabling users to set up customized integrations according to their specific requirements and preferred configuration. This compatibility enhances overall infrastructure performance and operational efficiency.

9. Robust API: Redshift provides a powerful API with comprehensive documentation. Users can utilize this API to send queries, retrieve results, and integrate Redshift functionality within Python programs, making coding and interaction more convenient.

10. Enhanced Security: AWS handles cloud security, while users are responsible for securing their applications within the cloud. Redshift provides access control, data encryption, and virtual private cloud features, ensuring enhanced security for data and infrastructure.

11. Machine Learning Capabilities: Leveraging machine learning, Redshift can predict and analyze queries, further improving its performance. Combined with MPP technology, Redshift outperforms other solutions in the market, delivering faster and more accurate results.

12. Easy and Quick Deployment: Redshift clusters can be deployed worldwide in a matter of minutes. This provides organizations with a high-performing data warehousing solution, enabling prompt implementation and reducing time-to-market.

13. Consistent Backup and Recovery: Amazon automatically backs up Redshift data regularly, minimizing the risk of data loss in case of faults, failures, or corruption. The backups are distributed across multiple locations, ensuring data resiliency and minimizing potential risks.

14. Integration with AWS Analytics: AWS offers a wide range of analytical tools that seamlessly integrate with Redshift. Users can leverage the support provided by Amazon to integrate third-party analytical tools, optimizing their analytics capabilities.

15. Support for Open Formats: Redshift supports various open formats for data, including Apache Parquet and Optimized Row Columnar (ORC) file formats. This compatibility ensures flexibility in data formats, enabling seamless integration with different systems or applications.

16. Strong Partner Ecosystem: AWS has a well-established partner ecosystem comprising third-party application developers and implementation service providers. Leveraging this ecosystem, organizations can find tailored implementation solutions and benefit from the expertise of trusted partners.

17. Future-Proof Infrastructure: With growing data collection and increasing analytical complexity, Redshift serves as a reliable infrastructure solution. It enables organizations to handle expanding data volumes efficiently while delivering top-notch performance at a fraction of the cost of competitors.

In conclusion, the benefits of using AWS Redshift include cost-efficiency, unparalleled speed, data encryption, compatibility with familiar tools, intelligent optimization, automation of tasks, concurrent scaling, seamless AWS integration, a robust API, heightened security, machine learning capabilities, easy deployment, consistent backup and recovery, integration with AWS analytics, support for open formats, a strong partner ecosystem, and future-proof infrastructure. These advantages make Redshift an attractive choice for organizations seeking a high-performing and cost-effective solution for managing large data volumes.

Redshift Limitations

Firstly, as an analytical database, it is optimized for performing complex queries on large data sets rather than supporting high-speed transactional workloads. Its design prioritizes query performance rather than frequent data modification or real-time updates.

Another limitation is Redshift’s cost structure, as it is a paid service provided by AWS. While costs may vary based on usage, data volume, and cluster setup, it is important to carefully assess the pricing model and consider the potential expenses for sustained usage.

Finally, it should be noted that Redshift’s technological foundation stems from ParAccel, a company that was acquired by Actian. While this partnership ensures continued development and support, there may be potential dependencies on Actian’s strategic decisions and future offerings.


  • Faster performance can be achieved by using Massive Parallel Processing (MPP).
  • Column-oriented databases are used by both platforms to connect BI applications to databases.
  • SQL query engines are used to access data in both warehouses.
  • In order to make data-driven decisions and obtain insights, Snowflake and Redshift were built to separate data management activities.


In spite of the similarities, there are some important variances that we must address.


Regardless of the type of ongoing job, Snowflake or Amazon Redshift have distinct architectures and behave differently. As a result, comparing efficiency can be a bit of a thorn in the side. Snowflake and Amazon Redshift use columnar storage and huge parallel processing.. Concurrent computation in this design allows for advanced analytics and significant time savings on large queries. Amazon Redshift features machine learning capabilities in addition to concurrent scaling.

As for query execution time, the two services are quite different. Snowflake, on the other hand, is better at handling queries that aren’t optimized. Amazon Redshift’s research regarding time may be longer, but the query cache optimizes recurring requests. Amazon Redshift standardizes searches and data structure. Redshift’s ATO (Automatic Table Optimizations) automatically manages SORTKEY and DISTKEY to optimize queries and reduce runtime for JOIN and where queries. Redshift lets clients manually set these settings.


In the past, Snowflake had the benefit of automated upkeep. Amazon Redshift, on the other hand, necessitated some manual maintenance.

It was only afterward that Amazon Redshift unveiled its auto-vacuuming, automatic workload management queue (WLM), better queues utilizing machine learning (ML), and other features. As a result of this automation, Amazon Redshift maintenance has been considerably reduced.

Integrating the Ecosystem

Data collection can only be effective if firms are able to comprehend it. So, third-party analytic tools are required to deliver precise insights.

Third-party integration is supported by both Snowflake and Amazon Redshift. Amazon Redshift, on the other hand, has the most comprehensive ecosystem and third-party connections, including ETL and business intelligence tools, which gives it a clear advantage.


Using Snowflake, you only pay for what you use. This may be a preferable option if you have a small number of queries over a long period of time. When there is no query load, the cluster automatically shuts down and the service does not charge the user. 

Nevertheless, it’s difficult to estimate Snowflake’s true cost because of its complex tiering computational structure. There are seven layers of computational warehouses offered by Snowflake, which complicates the process of calculating the computing costs. Therefore, Snowflake may be more expensive in the majority of scenarios.

Amazon Redshift, on the other hand, provides pricing that is clear and unambiguous. As an example, users can save up to 75% by committing to a certain amount of usage.

The following formula can also be used to calculate the price:

Cost of Amazon Redshift Monthly: [Price Per Hour] x [Cluster Size] x [Hours per Month].

It is also possible to purchase Amazon Redshift on-demand or as a Reserved Instance (RI). Compared to Snowflake’s on-demand pricing, Amazon Redshift is supposedly 1.3 times cheaper than Snowflake, and 1.9 to 3.7 times cheaper when booking servers for one or three years.

What is the pricing model for AWS Redshift?

How can the price of AWS Redshift be calculated?
The price of AWS Redshift can be calculated using the following formula: Cost of Amazon Redshift Monthly = [Price Per Hour] x [Cluster Size] x [Hours per Month]. This allows users to estimate their monthly costs based on the price per hour, the cluster size, and the number of hours used per month. It is also possible to purchase AWS Redshift on-demand or as a Reserved Instance (RI), providing flexibility in pricing options.

What is the pricing model for AWS Redshift?
AWS Redshift follows a pay-as-you-go pricing model according to the customer’s requirements. The cost starts at $0.25 per hour for a terabyte of data, and it can be scaled from there. Additionally, the pricing is region-specific, such as the mentioned example of US-North California.

How does the pricing for AWS Redshift vary based on the amount of data processed?
The pricing for AWS Redshift can vary based on the amount of data processed. The number of RA3 clusters needed depends on the amount of data processed on a daily basis. Therefore, the more data you process, the more RA3 clusters you may require, which can affect the pricing.

How does the pricing for AWS Redshift vary based on the node type chosen?
The pricing for AWS Redshift varies based on the node type chosen. RA3 nodes have managed storage, and the cost of the managed storage is billed on a pay-as-you-go basis. DC2 nodes include local SSD storage, and DS2 nodes provide only HDD storage, which is considerably cheaper but has slower performance.

What are the different types of nodes available in AWS Redshift?
AWS Redshift offers three types of nodes: RA3 nodes with managed storage, DC2 nodes, and DS2 nodes.

How Can I Manage and Understand AWS Redshift Costs?

To effectively manage and understand your AWS Redshift costs, there are several key strategies to consider.

1. Evaluate Service Integration: AWS Redshift offers integration with various AWS services such as Amazon S3, AWS Glue, Amazon Kinesis Data Firehose, and Amazon Quicksight, among others. While each service has its unique benefits, it’s crucial to assess whether using all of them concurrently is necessary. Unnecessary integration can significantly inflate your AWS bill. By carefully assessing your needs and eliminating redundant services, you can optimize your costs.

2. Reduce Redshift Costs: AWS provides various options to optimize your Redshift costs. This includes selecting appropriate instance types based on your workload requirements, effectively managing your data storage, and efficiently utilizing Redshift features and functionalities. By understanding the specific needs of your business, you can make informed decisions to reduce unnecessary expenses.

3. Employ Cloud Cost Management Tools: Attempting to manually analyze and map costs from individual services can be a complex and time-consuming task. Traditional cloud cost management tools may also lack comprehensive visibility into AWS Redshift costs. To overcome these challenges, consider leveraging specialized tools like CloudZero. Such tools provide in-depth insights and analytics, helping you understand your cloud costs better. CloudZero can assist in identifying cost-saving opportunities, mapping expenses to specific products or features, and gaining true cloud cost visibility.

4. Optimize Data Warehouse Usage: Efficient data utilization is crucial in managing Redshift costs. Regularly review your data warehouse usage patterns to identify unused or infrequently accessed data. Consider utilizing data lifecycle policies to automatically archive or delete unnecessary data, reducing your storage costs.

5. Leverage Reserved Instances: AWS offers Reserved Instances (RI) for Redshift, allowing you to commit to a specific instance type over a chosen duration. RIs provide significant cost savings compared to on-demand instances. Analyze your workload pattern and, if applicable, purchase RIs to optimize your Redshift costs.

By following these strategies, you can effectively manage and comprehend your AWS Redshift costs, leading to optimized spending and improved cost visibility for your business.


Even in its data warehouse products, AWS has always sought to ensure the highest level of user protection. Snowflake takes a more haphazard approach to security than Amazon Redshift.

Snowflake provides VPC/VPN network separation and encryption. Security features vary by product edition, and the one you choose has an impact on the price.

Amazon Redshift, on the other hand, provides end-to-end encryption that can be customized to meet your security needs. Security solutions like VPC/VPN and SSL connections are also available to help you keep your data safe, as are additional security features such as access management and cluster encryption. There is no additional licensing cost or tier pricing for implementing security features in Redshift.

Separation of Storage System and Security System


Storage and computation are kept distinct in Snowflake, making it possible for users to increase or decrease their usage as needed.

Until now, Amazon Redshift has not provided a way to physically separate computing from storage. Adding new clusters for increased storage space or computational capacity is required because of this lack of isolation. By using R3 nodes, users can grow to compute and storage independently, enabling a scaling environment similar to Snowflake.

When you use Redshift Spectrum, you can run Database queries immediately on stored data in an S3 bucket, reducing the amount of data transit. AQUA (Advanced Query Accelerator) is included with Amazon Redshift Managed Storage with RA3 nodes at no additional charge. Using AQUA, Amazon Redshift is 10 times faster than other commercial cloud data warehouses because it boosts specific types of queries automatically.

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In terms of data warehouses, Snowflake and Amazon Redshift are head-to-head competitors. The decision is based on your company’s needs and resources.

There are a number of reasons why Snowflake might be the best fit for your organization’s data storage needs.A high-query workload employing other AWS services, on the other hand, means that Amazon Redshift is the clear winner in this situation. Consider your requirements and available resources when comparing Snowflake vs Amazon Redshift. When you have the correct tool, you can begin to maximise your data’s value. Both of these widely used data warehouse systems can be used by Mission to help you develop a concrete data architecture.

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Dolan Cleary

Dolan Cleary

I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin - Stout and am now working with AllCode as a web technician. Currently working within the marketing department.

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