Snowflake vs Oracle: 3 Critical Parameters

By: Published: May 12, 2021

Feature Image - Snowflake vs Oracle

With data requirements growing at the speed of light, the ability to not only manipulate data in real-time but also scale along with it is a must-have for most organizations around the world. Oracle has been the choice of businesses for decades when it comes to work-related Database Management Systems. However, the Big Data being generated today requires different structures for management. Snowflake aims to solve this modern data storage problem of business organizations.

In this article, you will be introduced to Snowflake and Oracle, and compare Snowflake Vs Oracle based on multiple parameters. Finally, you will be introduced to the Oracle Exadata platform.

Table of Contents

Introduction to Snowflake

Snowflake Logo - Snowflake Vs Oracle

Snowflake is a cloud-based SAAS offering that enables data warehousing, preprocessing, and analytics. It offers an all-in-one package that supports data collection from various sources and its storage, processing, and analytical solutions. 

Snowflake UI - Snowflake Vs Oracle
Image source: https://community.snowflake.com

Snowflake does not use any prevailing or past database technologies, instead its architecture and query engines are designed from scratch,  specifically to suit the underlying public cloud infrastructure. 

Snowflakes stores all its data on Amazon S3, it uses a central data repository which is accessible to all the compute instances, this approach is similar to shared-disk architecture

Also, it uses virtual compute instances for its analytical computations, where massively parallel compute clusters process user queries, which in turn is similar to share-nothing architecture. This way Snowflake combines the best of both approaches to deliver speed, scalability, flexibility, and adaptability. 

Official documentation of Snowflake can be found here.

Introduction to Oracle database

Oracle Logo - Snowflake Vs Oracle

Oracle as you must know is a bit more traditional database management system, which started off with relational RDBMS technologies and improvised to include object-relational and multi-model databases. 

Since the last few years, Oracle has moved its offerings to the cloud to harness the benefits of cloud technology. It has also introduced some modern SAAS offerings like CRMs/ERPs/SCMs/IoT etc. on the cloud.

Official documentation of Oracle can be found here.

Comparing Snowflake Vs Oracle

There are certain parameters to consider when comparing them.

Snowflake Vs Oracle: Solution Strategy

Oracle was developed initially when computer applications and usages were well structured and limited in scope. 

Relational databases were sufficient to address the computing needs of that time and programs were not expected to be flexible or intelligent enough to adjust to some variations in inputs/expected outputs. In short, computers were used in a limited set of domains like payroll, science, statistics, programming, etc. In contrast, today computers are found everywhere, from your microwave to your cars, from phones to the cloud. 

Today, companies have a lot of unstructured data being streamed from disparate sources, computing needs are heavy and diverse, most of the human population is connected to computing in one way or the other. Snowflake is a modern software offering that can handle many types of data and performs powerful analytics to give you valuable insights into your business processes. 

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Snowflake Vs Oracle: Time Era and Paradigm

Oracle was introduced in an era when memory was a very expensive and scarce resource. Most commercial programs developed used most of their code to manage memory and less code in actually delivering the useful work they claimed to accomplish. 

Snowflake was introduced in an era where memory is a million times cheaper, computing hardware, and resources are tens of thousands of times more powerful. Most commercial programs developed today make use of cloud computing to serve complex computing needs and offer availability, scalability, reliability, and collaborative efficiency. 

So basically, Oracle is more like an on-premise monolith whereas snowflake is a cloud-based scalable offering.

Snowflake Vs Oracle: Deployment and Features

You will learn about the Feature-set and Deployment differences between the two, and finally, discuss a snowflake alternative that Oracle has to offer. 

IssuesOracleSnowflake
1InstallationOn premise mostly with separate OS None
2Licensing costs Per CPU per user costs, hardware costsPay per usage, cloud model
3Upgrades, patches and fixesFrequent upgrades, needs a database administratorAuto applied for the user by the company 
4Scaling, indexing, partitioning etc., management tasksNeeds to be done manually by a database administrator.
Additional costs for scaling up, downscaling may not reduce costs. 
Automatically managed by Snowflake itself.
Facility to down scale and reduce costs
5Availability,
Disaster recover 
Needs manual intervention, high technical expertise to devise a planAutomatically done by Snowflake, its on the cloud 
6Database types supportedRelational, transactional, OLTP Pure warehouse but OLAP only 

Till now, the comparison was done of a traditional DMBS with a modern cloud offering. Subsequently, a modern cloud offering from Oracle, which can compete with Snowflake will be described in the next section.

Understanding Oracle Exadata

Oracle Exadata is a cloud service that is offered as an alternative to modern cloud-based data warehouses. Exadata is claimed to be the fastest database machine on the cloud and offers business intelligence capabilities too. 

Oracle’s Autonomous Data Warehouse is the software that runs on Exadata and delivers exceptional performance in data warehousing. It allows mixed workloads, like OLTP/OLAP running with analytical databases while delivering greater performance, scalability, security, and data protection. 

As you run a lesser number of premise database core installations and move more and more data to your single Exadata instance, you save licensing costs and get increased productivity and availability. Exadata can drastically reduce manpower costs and the costs incurred in scaling up your on-premise data center ( e.g. space, power, and cooling, etc). Exadata offers a unique mix of on-premise control and public cloud flexibility, thereby allowing your legacy systems to collaborate with the cloud.

Oracle UI Illustration - Snowflake Vs Oracle
Image source: blog.oracle.com

You can effectively bring a piece of the public cloud to your own data center. Applications, databases, and infrastructure all have to work together in harmony; and this is where Oracle offers an integrated solution.  If your existing data stack already has Oracle databases, Exadata could be “the answer” to your database and warehousing needs.

There are other, more focussed solutions offered by Oracle like Data Integrator and Oracle Analytics, but they will be discussed in a different blog.

Conclusion

In this article, you learned about Snowflake and Oracle, the difference between the platforms based on 3 critical parameters, and subsequently, the modern alternative by Oracle for Snowflake was introduced.

If you would like to learn about the differences between Snowflake and Hadoop, you can find the guide here.

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Pratik Dwivedi
Freelance Technical Content Writer, Hevo Data

Pratik writes about various topics related to data industry who loves creating engaging content on topics like data analytics, machine learning, AI, big data, and business intelligence.

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