Snowflake Spark Integration: A Comprehensive Guide 101

• September 30th, 2021

Snowflake Spark | Hevo Data

Snowflake is a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform that helps businesses to create Data Warehouses. It provides its users with an option for storing their data in the Cloud. Snowflake has a very elastic infrastructure and its Compute and Storage resources scale well to cater to your changing storage needs. 

Apache Spark is a Cluster Computing system that runs at breakneck speed. It provides a suite of high-level APIs for application development, including Java, Scala, Python, and R. Apache Spark is a framework for executing Spark applications seamlessly. Spark makes use of Hadoop in two ways: one for Storage and the other for Process Management. As Spark has its own Cluster Management, it makes use of Hadoop for storage.

This article will teach you about Snowflake, Apache Spark, and how to link Snowflake Spark using a connector to read Snowflake tables into Spark DataFrame and write DataFrame into Snowflake tables using Scala codes.

Table of Contents

What is Snowflake Database?

Snowflake Database is a Software-as-a-Service data Storage and Analytics Data Ware company that is entirely Cloud-based (SaaS). Snowflake Database is a totally new SQL Database Engine that is designed to interact with Cloud infrastructure.

You don’t need to download and install the Database to use it; instead, you can simply establish an account online, which grants you access to the Web Dashboard, where you can construct the Database, Schema, and Tables. Web Console, ODBC, and JDBC Drivers, as well as Third-Party connectors, can all be used to access the database and tables.

Since the fundamental architecture is new, but the ANSI SQL syntax and functionality are the same, learning Snowflake is simple and quick if you have a background in SQL.

Snowflake provides a modern data architecture, having a host of innovative features and functionalities, which are discussed as follows:

  • Cloud Power Agnostic
  • Scalability
  • Concurrency & Workload Separability
  • Near-Zero Administration
  • Security

Key Features of Snowflake

Here are some of the benefits of using Snowflake as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution:

  • Snowflake enables you to enhance your Analytics Pipeline by transitioning from nightly Batch Loads to Real-time Data Streams, allowing you to improve the quality and speed of your analytics. By enabling secure, concurrent, and monitoring access to your Data Warehouse across your organization, you can improve the quality of analytics at your company.
  • Snowflake uses the Caching Paradigm to swiftly deliver the results from the cache. To avoid re-generation of the report when nothing has changed, Snowflake employs Persistent (within the session) Query results.
  • Snowflake allows you to get rid of silos and ensure access to meaningful insights across the enterprise, resulting in better Data-driven Decision-Making. This is a crucial first step toward bettering partner relationships, optimizing pricing, lowering operational expenses, increasing sales effectiveness, and more.
  • Snowflake allows you to better analyze Customer Behaviour and Product Usage. You can also use the whole scope of data to ensure customer satisfaction, drastically improve product offers, and foster Data Science innovation.
  • Snowflake allows you to create your own Data Exchange, which allows you to securely communicate live, controlled data. It also encourages you to improve data relationships throughout your business units, as well as with your partners and customers

What is Apache Spark?

Hadoop is widely used in the industry to examine large data volumes. This is owing to the fact the Hadoop framework is based on a basic programming model (MapReduce), which allows for a Scalable, Flexible, Fault-Tolerant, and Cost-Effective Computing Solution. The major goal here is to maintain speed in processing massive Datasets in terms of Query Response Time and Program Execution Time.

The Apache Software Foundation released Spark to speed up the Hadoop computational computing software process. Apache Spark is an Open-Source, Scalable, and Distributed General-Purpose Computing Engine that is used to process and analyze large data files from many sources such as HDFS, S3, Azure, and others.

Iterative algorithms, which visit their data set several times in a loop, and interactive/exploratory Data Analysis, i.e., repetitive database-style querying of data, are made easier using Spark. When compared to Apache Hadoop MapReduce, the latency of such applications could be reduced by several orders of magnitude. The training algorithms for Machine Learning systems, which provided the initial impetus for the development of Apache Spark, are an example of iterative algorithms.

The features that make Apache Spark one of the most widely used Big Data platforms are:

  • Lighting-fast processing speed.
  • Ease of use.
  • It offers support for sophisticated analytics.
  • Real-time stream processing is flexible.
  • Active and expanding community.
  • Spark for Machine Learning.
  • Spark for Fog Computing.

Key Features of Apache Spark

Apache Spark provides the following rich features to ensure a hassle-free Data Analytics experience:

  • High Processing Capabilities: Spark leverages Resilient Distributed Datasets (RDDs) to minimize the I/O operations as compared to its peer MapReduce. Moreover, it offers 100 times faster memory performance, and on disk, it operates with 10 times faster speed.
  • Easy Usage: Spark allows you to work with numerous programming languages. Moreover, it offers 80 operators to simplify your development tasks. Spark’s user interface is simple to understand and even allows you to reuse the code for critical tasks like manipulating historical data, running ad-hoc queries, etc.
  • Fault Tolerance: RDDs allow Spark to manage situations of node failure and safeguard your cluster from data loss. Moreover, it regularly stores the transformations and actions, empowering you to restart from the last checkpoint.
  • Real-Time Processing: Traditional tools like MapReduce allow for processing data only if available in Hadoop Clusters. Spark, on the other hand, uses multiple language-integrated robust APIs to support data processing in real-time.

To learn more about Apache Spark, visit here.

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What is Snowflake Spark Connector?

The “Spark-Snowflake” is a Snowflake Spark Connector that allows Apache Spark to read and write data to Snowflake Databases. When you establish a connection, Spark treats Snowflake as if it were any other data source, such as HDFS, S3, JDBC, and so on. In actuality, the data source “net.snowflake.spark.snowflake” and its short-form “Snowflake” are provided by Snowflake Spark Connector.

Since each version of Spark has its unique Snowflake Spark Connector, make sure you download and use the correct version for your Spark instance. The Snowflake Spark Connector communicates with Snowflake via the JDBC driver and performs the following actions.

  • By reading a table from Snowflake, you may create a Spark DataFrame.
  • Create a Snowflake table from a Spark DataFrame.

The data is transferred between Spark RDD/DataFrame/Dataset and Snowflake via internal storage (generated automatically) or external storage (provided by the user), which is used by the Snowflake Spark connector to store temporary session data.

When you access Snowflake from Spark, it performs the following actions:

  • A stage is used to create the session, as well as storage on the Snowflake schema.
  • It keeps the stage in place for the duration of the session.
  • The stage is used to hold intermediate data and is then dropped when the connection is terminated.

What is Maven Dependency?

The Maven Dependency automatically downloads the Snowflake 1.1 dependent library and includes the relevant jar files in the project.

The code in this section should be included in the Maven configuration file pom.xml under <dependencies>……/dependencies> tag.


The <version> tag indicates which version of the driver you want to use. Version 3.13.7 is used in this example solely for demonstration purposes. It’s possible that the most recent version of the driver is higher.

How to Create a Snowflake Table using Spark?

You can’t use the default database that comes with your Snowflake account when working with Spark as the Snowflake Spark Connector requires you to establish a stage on the schema. You can’t modify the default schema after Snowflake Spark data transfer, therefore you’ll have to construct a new database and table.

To create a database, log in to the Snowflake Web Console, navigate to the Databases Menu, pick “Create a new database,” then fill out the form with the database name and click on the “Finish” button.

You can construct a table using either the Snowflake Online Console or the Snowflake Spark dedicated code mentioned below:

val properties = new java.util.Properties()
  properties.put("user", "user")
  properties.put("password", "#########")
  properties.put("account", "oea82")
  properties.put("warehouse", "mywh")
  properties.put("db", "EMP")
  properties.put("schema", "public")

  //JDBC connection string
  val jdbcUrl = "jdbc:snowflake://"
  val connection = DriverManager.getConnection(jdbcUrl, properties)
  val statement = connection.createStatement
  statement.executeUpdate("create or replace table EMPLOYEE(name VARCHAR, department VARCHAR, salary number)")

The GitHub Snowflake Spark program repository is available here.

What are the 7 Snowflake Spark Integration Parameters?

You must use the following Snowflake Spark arguments in order to read/write:

  • sfURL: Your account’s URL, such as 
  • sfAccount : Your account’s username and password. You can retrieve your account name from the URL, for example, “oea82”.
  • sfUser : Snowflake user name, which is usually the same as your login user.
  • sfPassword : User Password.
  • sfWarehouse : Name of the Snowflake Data Warehouse.
  • sfDatabase : Name of the Snowflake Database.
  • sfSchema : The Database schema to which your table belongs.
  • And more.

How to Write Spark DataFrame into Snowflake Tables?

  • You can write a Spark DataFrame to a Snowflake table by utilizing the DataFrame’s write() method (which returns a DataFrameWriter object) with the values below.
  • Use format() method to give either snowflake or net.snowflake.spark.snowflake as the data source name.
  • To specify connection options like URL, account, username, password, database name, schema, role, and more, use the Option() method.
  • To specify the Snowflake table name that you want to write to, use the dbtable option.
  • If the file is already existing, use mode() to specify whether you want to overwrite, append, or ignore it.

Here is a sample Snowflake Spark Connector code in Scala:

package com.sparkbyexamples.spark
import org.apache.spark.sql.{SaveMode, SparkSession}
object WriteEmpDataFrameToSnowflake extends App {
  val spark = SparkSession.builder()
  import spark.implicits._
  val simpleData = Seq(("James","Sales",3000),
  val df = simpleData.toDF("name","department","salary")
  var sfOptions = Map(
    "sfURL" -> "",
    "sfAccount" -> "oea82",
    "sfUser" -> "user",
    "sfPassword" -> "####################",
    "sfDatabase" -> "EMP",
    "sfSchema" -> "PUBLIC",
    "sfRole" -> "ACCOUNTADMIN"
    .option("dbtable", "EMPLOYEE")


How to Read Snowflake Tables into Spark DataFrames?

Using the read() method of the SparkSession (which is a DataFrameReader object) and providing the data source name via read(), connection settings, and table name via dbtable.

Here are two samples of Snowflake Spark Connector code in Scala:

The Snowflake Spark example below utilizes the dbtable option to read the whole Snowflake table and create a Spark DataFrame,

package com.sparkbyexamples.spark
import org.apache.spark.sql.{DataFrame, SparkSession}
object ReadEmpFromSnowflake extends App{
  val spark = SparkSession.builder()
  var sfOptions = Map(
    "sfURL" -> "",
    "sfAccount" -> "oea82",
    "sfUser" -> "user",
    "sfPassword" -> "#############",
    "sfDatabase" -> "EMP",
    "sfSchema" -> "PUBLIC",
    "sfRole" -> "ACCOUNTADMIN"
  val df: DataFrame =
    .format("net.snowflake.spark.snowflake") // or just use "snowflake"
    .option("dbtable", "EMPLOYEE")


|James  |Sales     |3000  |
|Michael|Sales     |4600  |
|Robert |Sales     |4100  |
|Maria  |Finance   |3000  |
|Raman  |Finance   |3000  |
|Scott  |Finance   |3300  |
|Jen    |Finance   |3900  |
|Jeff   |Marketing |3000  |
|Kumar  |Marketing |2000  |

The example below uses the query option to conduct a group by aggregate SQL query.

val df1: DataFrame =
    .option("query", "select department, sum(salary) as total_salary from EMPLOYEE group by department")


|Sales     |11700       |
|Finance   |13200       |
|Marketing |5000        |

From Spark SQL to Snowflake

Spark Data TypeSnowflake Data Type
BinaryTypeNot supported
ByteTypeINTEGER. Snowflake does not support the BYTE type.
StringTypeIf length is specified, VARCHAR(N); otherwise, VARCHAR

From Snowflake to Spark SQL

Snowflake Data TypeSpark Data Type
BIGINTDecimalType(38, 0)
BINARYNot supported
BLOBNot supported
INTEGERDecimalType(38, 0)
TIMEStringType (Spark Connector Version 2.4.14 or later)

How to Achieve Column Mapping?

When the names of your columns differ between the Spark DataFrame schema and the Snowflake table, utilize the <strong>columnmap</strong> options with a single string literal as a parameter.

Here is a sample Snowflake Spark Column Mapping code in Scala:

.option("columnmap", "Map(col_2 -> col_b, col_3 -> col_a)")

What are the Saving Modes?

  • DataFrameWriter: The method mode() of the Spark DataFrameWriter specifies the SaveMode; the parameter to this method is either the string below or a constant from the SaveMode class.
  • Overwrite: The Overwrite mode is used to overwrite an existing file; SaveMode.Overwrite can be used as an alternative.
  • Append: You can also use SaveMode.Append to add data to an existing file.
  • Ignore: When the file already exists, you can use SaveMode.Ignore instead of writing. Ignore.
  • errorifexists or error: When a file already exists, this option returns an error; alternatively, SaveMode.ErrorIfExists can be used.


As organizations expand their businesses, managing large data becomes crucial for achieving the desired efficiency. Snowflake Spark Integration powers stakeholders and management to collaborate on their workflow and build a quality product meeting the requirements with ease. In case you want to export data from a source of your choice into your desired Database/destination like Snowflake, then Hevo Data is the right choice for you! 

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