Most likely you are already considering migration to Snowflake. And your choice looks reasonable–according to G2, this platform is the easiest to use among data warehouse solutions. Snowflake offers its clients a wide range of advanced features. Automatic concurrency scaling, secure data sharing, and cost optimization capabilities make the platform an appealing solution for managing and analyzing large volumes of business data.

But how do you know if you really need Snowflake migration? What are the most common migration strategies, and which suits your business? Learn these and other insights from N-iX, a trusted data warehouse consulting expert and a Snowflake Partner.

5 signs you need Snowflake migration

Transferring your data to a new platform might seem overwhelming, and you want to make sure that giving up the current infrastructure is worth it. Our experts listed five signals that show you it's high time to migrate to Snowflake:

1. You struggle with the system’s performance

So, your existing system can't process large volumes of data or complex queries? As your data warehouse matures, handling increasing data flows effectively becomes more challenging. 

Poor system performance might be the first sign that you must move your data to Snowflake. In contrast to legacy data platforms, Snowflake can automate resource optimization, tune queries, and facilitate easier maintenance. With every platform update, the data warehouse platform offers even more efficiency for its clients by accelerating performance. For instance, since June 2019, Snowflake has decreased query compilation time by 16%. 

Case study: Optimizing data management performance for a leading industrial supply company

Let's find out how Snowflake migration can translate into significant performance improvement in practice. One of N-iX's clients, a Fortune 500 industrial supply company, needed to transform its on-premise data solution and enhance the efficiency of its data management. As a part of this extensive project, our engineers implemented the environment for processing large datasets and automated the data extraction process with Snowflake and Airflow. In addition, our team decreased data duplication by determining the procession status of the ingested files. 

By partnering with N-iX, our client enhanced the performance and improved the reliability of their data management solution.

2. Your database system is hard to scale

Migration to Snowflake is a tried-and-true method to boost your data warehouse scalability. If your existing data warehousing solution is hard to scale with the increasing data volumes and concurrent user queries, you might need to migrate to Snowflake. The platform is a self-managed service with an architecture specifically designed for cloud environments. The almost limitless scalability of the platform's architecture allows businesses to adjust their resources according to their needs. Another thing that differentiates this data warehouse platform from competitors is its ability to scale both horizontally and vertically. These two scaling types differ in how they expand the resources of the data warehouse platform. Horizontal scaling involves adding more machines or nodes to distribute the workload, while vertical scaling focuses on increasing the resources of individual nodes. In other words, by scaling horizontally, you expand the software capabilities (add more servers, deploy additional databases, etc.), while vertical scaling usually means buying additional hardware. By partnering with a Snowflake services provider, you will seamlessly choose the type of scaling that will align with your business objectives.

What is more, Snowflake offers an automatic concurrency scaling feature. This mode enables enterprises to focus on their core business goals while the algorithm-driven system scales up or down by itself. For example, when the workload increases, the platform automatically provisions additional storage and memory to handle the higher demand. Conversely, when the workload decreases, it scales down your resources. According to Snowflake's in-house research, the automatic concurrency scaling feature demonstrates a significant improvement of up to 84% in overall performance for concurrent queries. With a reliable tech partner like N-iX, you can leverage the platform’s built-in features to the fullest, allowing your enterprise to efficiently handle varying workloads without manual intervention. 

3. Your data warehouse cost is sky-high

Another major reason to migrate to Snowflake is cost optimization. Unlike storing on-premise or on traditional data warehouse solutions, migrating to Snowflake's Data Cloud allows you to pay only for the utilized resources. Using fully managed solutions like this one helps enterprises minimize their total cost of ownership (TCO) by eliminating software license fees, infrastructure management, and maintenance spending. 

Snowflake has brought cost optimization beyond just cutting infrastructure costs–they provide clients with native cost and workload optimization features. Snowflake's cost management framework consists of three parts: visibility, control, and optimization. Each attribute represents a set of features and best practices that help you explore current data warehouse costs, enforce cost control and query limits, and discover resources that require fine-tuning. As a Snowflake partner, N-iX is well aware of the platform’s cost optimization opportunities and can help you analyze your current data spending, implement cost control measures, set query limits, and, as a result, maximize your cost savings.

4. Your infrastructure doesn't support easy and secure data sharing

Secure data sharing is caring not only for your customers and partners but also for your business reputation. If your current infrastructure has limited data sharing and collaboration opportunities, Snowflake migration is an optimal solution. First of all, the platform protects your information–while sharing database objects with other Snowflake accounts, the actual data isn't transferred or copied. Instead, the sharing occurs in the services layer and metadata store. Moreover, all the objects you share are read-only, meaning that your data consumers won't be able to modify or delete them. To guarantee that your shared data is safe, partner with a tech provider that has strong cybersecurity policies in place. N-iX adheres to international data protection regulations such as ISO, GDPR, and others and has all the required security controls in place.

Sharing data with other accounts is also seamless and quick–access to shared data is granted instantly and can be instantly rewoken as well. For businesses, prompt data sharing translates to effective cooperation and informed and timely decision-making.

5. Your business lacks real-time analytics

Processing data right when it becomes available enables businesses to analyze customer behavior, detect fraud, and improve operational efficiency. If your existing system can't handle the large throughput, we recommend migration to Snowflake. A trusted partner like N-iX will help you implement a Snowflake solution for managing real-time data flows. The data warehouse platform includes a built-in Kafka connector designed to streamline the uninterrupted data pipeline from raw data sources to visualization dashboards. Unlike layered platforms, the platform’s multi-cluster architecture allows for handling high-velocity data streams at once. As a result, businesses gain real-time insights into their data presented on Tableau dashboards.

Snowflake migration strategies: Which one suits your business?

Before migrating to Snowflake, it is essential to understand which migration strategies are available and choose the one suitable for your specific use case. Let's take a detailed look at three common approaches to help you make the best move:

  • The lift and shift strategy stands for moving your existing data and applications to Snowflake without significantly changing the underlying architecture. Though this approach allows businesses to get quick results, migrating everything at once means migrating garbage as well.
  • If you want to maximize the capabilities of your existing architecture, go for lift, fix, and land approach. The strategy presupposes that your engineering team migrates your solution to Snowflake while making the improvements on the go. In other words, your system gets a makeover but will it be enough to leverage the platform’s potential fully?
  • Complete redesign of your solution refers to fundamentally rearchitecting your data platform and applications to align with Snowflake's features. Though this approach is the most time-consuming and complex, it can provide the most benefits in the long run.

Popular Snowflake migration strategies

Indeed, there's no universal Snowflake migration strategy. The choice will depend on your business case, the current state of your platform, as well as your readiness and willingness to invest in migration. How to objectively analyze your current data migration capabilities and select a perfect fit for your enterprise? Partnering with an experienced vendor like N-iX will help you navigate this complex process. N-iX has significant expertise in strategic tech consulting and Snowflake migrations, so our team can understand your unique requirements and challenges and then recommend the most suitable migration strategy.

Snowflake migration process: N-iX’s approach

Whatever the path you take, the migration process roadmap is standard for all cases. Here’s how we at N-iX migrate clients’ solutions to Snowflake in three steps:

1. Product Discovery

During the Discovery Phase, our experts thoroughly analyze the client's current database system, namely its structure and data quantity. To begin with, we categorize and study the different types of workloads running in your ecosystem. After our engineering team gets clear on the volume, velocity, and variety of your data, we are ready to size and design new architecture that will match your needs. Finally, our clients get a detailed migration plan outlining the project's timelines and deliverables.

2. Implementation

At the next stage, N-iX cloud architects and engineers set up the Snowflake environment and initiate data migration. Our expert team will create and configure Snowflake accounts, warehouses, and databases according to the project requirements. Once the environment is ready, we transfer the client's data from the existing database system to Snowflake. N-iX engineers carefully execute the migration and implement data governance, ensuring data integrity, security, and minimal downtime.

Migration of a database system to Snowflake

3. Validation

The final project phase of the validation phase is crucial for confirming that the migration has been successful. In other words, your tech partner should check that all data was migrated and no data loss occurred during the process. 

Data validation process

Apart from reviewing the workloads, N-iX conducts technical validation to make sure that your new Snowflake environment has the required integrations and CI/CD processes in place. The final step is business validation–we confirm that the project outcomes cover the initial requirements and solve your business challenge.

Snowflake migration best practices: How to bring maximum business value?

It's no surprise that transitioning large amounts of data and applications comes with Snowflake migration challenges. How to be one step ahead and take action before any issues occur? To ensure a smooth transition, partner with a tech vendor that utilizes these best practices:

  • Diving deep into the client’s infrastructure and environment

A comprehensive assessment of the existing client infrastructure before the project launch is the key to success. Migration to Snowflake is a more complex process than, for instance, cloud migration since you not only transfer data but also adapt it to a new platform with its unique specifications and constraints. Snowflake supports various types of structured and semi-structured data, such as JSON, Avro, or XML, and it requires your data to conform to its specific structure and format. Therefore, the more carefully your engineering team studies your workload and data at the initial stage, the easier it is to develop a robust migration plan.

  • Creating a reliable migration plan

Fewer and fewer enterprises choose big bang migration–a rapid switch from an old system to a new one. Enterprises want their migration to be smooth and are looking for tech vendors that can migrate to Snowflake with uptime close to 100%. It is not a big issue for trusted partners that take time to develop detailed migration plans. Knowing exactly what workloads you are going to migrate and when will allow you to mitigate potential risks and ensure business continuity.

  • Perform testing validation

Among Snowflake migration best practices are not only preliminary measures but also post-migration activities. Checking the data transfer accuracy by running tests is one of them. To ensure the integrity and reliability of the migrated system, your technology partner should run data comparison test cases, perform end-to-end-data validation, and check the reporting.

Read more: Redshift vs Snowflake vs BigQuery: Which one to choose for your cloud data migration?

Why choose N-iX to migrate your data sets to Snowflake?

  • N-iX is a global engineering vendor with 21 years of expertise in data analytics services, ranging from tech consulting to data warehousing;
  • We provide end-to-end Snowflake migration services that cover Product Discovery, data pipeline design, data architecture, Snowflake implementation and migration, BI integration, and more;
  • N-iX holds Snowflake Select Services Partner Status, which validates our related case studies and proves capabilities to deliver customer success with Snowflake Data Cloud;
  • Our data unit counts over 200 specialists, including certified SnowPro architects and data engineers;
  • The N-iX team has successfully helped enterprises from supply chain, e-commerce, and other domains transform their data warehousing and get the maximum value from their data.

Migrate to Snowflake with N-iX in 3 steps

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N-iX Staff
Rostyslav Fedynyshyn
Head of Data and Analytics Practice

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