The Fairway Technologies Blog

Your Legacy Data Warehouse vs. Snowflake: A Comparison

In data warehouse, snowflake, legacy No Comments
July 25, 2019

If your enterprise is using a legacy data warehouse, chances are you are using technology that was initially created more than three decades ago. Most of these systems have been upgraded over time. However, many data warehouse providers have simply retrofitted older versions of an open-source technology. These systems lack the highly performant, elastic, and cost-effective qualities of data warehouse solutions today. If you are contemplating upgrading your enterprise’s data systems, allow us to introduce you to the benefits of Snowflake, the data warehouse solution that was built for the cloud.

Snowflake’s data warehouse enables the data-driven enterprise with instant elasticity, secure data sharing, and per-second pricing across multiple clouds. Snowflake combines the power of data warehousing, the flexibility of big data platforms, and the elasticity of the cloud. In 2018, the company made the Forbes’ Cloud 100 List as one of the fastest growing cloud solutions in any domain. Before we look more deeply into the benefits of Snowflake, let’s dive into some issues we often see with legacy systems. 

Common Challenges

First, the on-premise versions of many legacy systems can’t scale beyond their hardware. As a result, concurrency is an issue. Typically, legacy systems also require maintenance by experts. Some companies need several data warehouse administrators or supporting databases, and spend a lot of time indexing and partitioning data. 

One of the largest issues with legacy data warehouses though is their cost. Most of the older, ubiquitous systems charge you a high flat rate even when you’re not querying them. Pair that with all the other challenges associated with on-prem systems—hardware limitations, flexibility, upgrades/patches, etc.—and looking for another solution begins to become much more attractive.


Enter: Snowflake

At Fairway, we are generally technology agnostic. We find the solution that best fits your business’s needs. As far as data warehouses go though, we have not found a better solution than Snowflake, which is why we have partnered with the company to bring you best-in-breed data warehouse solutions. Snowflake has a myriad of features that set it apart. In contrast to most legacy data warehouses, Snowflake can scale to unlimited user concurrency. We have seen this in action on past projects where we have seen the performance of many queries improve by 100 times. The reason for this dramatic increase is that Snowflake has separation of compute from compute and compute from storage.

Snowflake is also scalable in terms of cost. Instead of paying a fixed rate for the service, Snowflake’s compute resources are elastic. That means you only pay for what you use. Snowflake also features high availability—that means no downtime for your organization. The database leverages AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud Platform regions for true high availability across the cloud. As far as other features, Snowflake handles JSON support better than most legacy data warehouses. And, Snowflake has a unique feature called Zero-copy Clone that makes it easy to test and QA your data warehouse without physically copying your data.

Last but not least, Snowflake has comprehensive security measures built into it. It is PCI, SOC 2, and HIPAA compliant. It also has multi-factor authentication and role-based granular access control.


If you are thinking about migrating from your legacy data warehouse to Snowflake or are already in the process of doing so, make sure to download the Legacy Warehouse to Snowflake Migration Checklist from the pop-up on this page! Fairway is proud to be partnered with Snowflake and has years of experience supporting data warehouse migrations including Snowflake DB implementations. For platform-specific migration checklists, visit the pages for Teradata and Oracle

If you have any other questions about migrating from your legacy data warehouse to Snowflake, contact us for a complimentary Data Assessment. We’d be happy to assist you!