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azure synapse vs snowflake

Azure Synapse vs. Snowflake: A Comprehensive Analysis

In the swiftly advancing realm of data analytics, organizations continually search for potent and scalable platforms to unlock the complete potential of their data. Statista projects a substantial increase in global data production, capture, replication, and consumption, expecting to reach 64.2 zettabytes by the year 2020. In the upcoming five years, spanning from 2020 to 2025, projections suggest a significant expansion, foreseeing global data creation to exceed 180 zettabytes. Two prominent players in this domain are Azure Synapse vs Snowflake.

While both platforms provide advanced features for data management and analysis, their distinct characteristics cater to varied use cases and preferences.

This post will conduct a detailed comparison of Azure Synapse vs Snowflake, delving into their key features, architecture, performance, pricing, and integration capabilities. The aim is to assist you in making an informed decision tailored to your specific analytics requirements.

What is Azure Synapse?

Azure Synapse Analytics is an expansive analytics service that converges data integration, enterprise data warehousing, and big data analytics into a unified platform.

This service offers the flexibility to query data on your terms, utilizing either serverless or dedicated options at scale. Azure Synapse seamlessly integrates data ingestion, exploration, preparation, transformation, management, and serving, catering to immediate business intelligence and machine learning needs.

architecture of azure synapse analytics

The T-SQL-focused analytics of Azure Synapse leverages SQL pools for acquiring and storing information. It accommodates big data warehouses, and the SQL Server family provides the necessary infrastructure.

The serverless model enables data lake queries with logical data warehouses. The platform supports various data streams, incorporating big data and multiple programming languages, providing an effective user experience while adhering to rules and regulations for safeguarding customer information.

Key Features of Azure Synapse:

  • Successful advancement of pipelines and ETL/ELT procedures
  • Integration of big data analytics, data integration, and enterprise data warehousing in a unified space
  • Seamless integration through Apache Spark, SQL engine, and languages such as Python, .NET, etc
  • Real-time responsive data security with row-based and column-based protocols
  • Cloud-based data options for structured and unstructured data
  • Data discovery of relational and non-relational data with SQL
  • Compatibility with many languages and valuable storage of information
  • Receptive data engine with enhanced query services

Pros and Cons of Azure Synapse

Azure Synapse, a robust analytics platform, offers a range of benefits for comprehensive data management and analytics needs:

Pros of Azure Synapse

  • Comprehensive Data Warehousing: Streamlines cloud-based data storage and management.
  • Massively Parallel Processing: Efficiently handles large datasets for rapid analytics.
  • Seamless Integration: Creates a unified ecosystem by integrating with various Azure products.
  • Serverless Flexibility: Adaptable to diverse use cases with complete control.
  • Real-time Information: Delivers reliable and instant data for accurate reports.
  • Adaptable Data Storage: Stores data in any preferred format with flexibility.
  • Unified Microsoft Ecosystem: Integrates seamlessly with other Microsoft solutions.
  • Integrated Governance Tools: Ensures secure and compliant data management.
  • Exceptional Performance: Processes tasks within seconds for optimal performance.

Cons of Azure Synapse

Despite its strengths, Azure Synapse has limitations that users should consider:

  • File Size: Limits on the size of files that can be loaded onto the platform.
  • Usability: Lack of user-friendliness in report generation.
  • Integration Complexity: Integration within the Azure ecosystem can be improved.
  • Browser Dependency: No dedicated tool for laptop-based work, relying on browser-based operations.
  • Analytics Capability: Needs expanded analytics capabilities to meet evolving data needs.
  • Restricted Data Types: Limitations on certain data types and table operations.
  • Row Size Constraint: Limits on the size of rows in source tables.
  • Table Limitation: Maximum of 5,000 tables per single link connection.
  • System Tables Exclusion: System tables and security configurations excluded from replication processes.
  • SQL User Constraints: Restrictions on SQL users for administrative tasks.
  • T-SQL Limitations: Some T-SQL limitations impacting the range of tasks achievable within Synapse.

What is Snowflake?

Snowflake is a fully managed service renowned for its simplicity, capable of powering a near-unlimited number of concurrent workloads. It serves as a solution for data warehousing, data lakes, data engineering, data science, data application development, and secure sharing and consumption of shared data.



As well-known cloud-based data warehousing and analytical software, Snowflake provides direct access to storage and data analytics based on Microsoft Azure and AWS infrastructure.

Known for its scalability in data science applications, Snowflake development excels in processing large datasets and performing analytics with impressive speed.

Its maintenance-free nature, along with enhanced ETL and data ingestion capabilities, makes it a robust choice. Snowflake offers simple SQL and UI features along with data sharing and Elastic Compute capabilities.

Key Features of Snowflake

  • Total execution on cloud infrastructure provided by Azure, AWS, and Google Cloud
  • Effective security mechanisms, including network policy management via IP address restrictions, authentication methods, encryption, two-factor authentication, etc.
  • Straightforward data sharing with Snowflake and other users through reader accounts
  • Easy scalability of resources based on demand
  • Strong support for structured and semi-structured data in the cloud with automated data parsing and extraction
  • Multi-layered and shared data structure with individual compute and storage assets
  • No extra software or maintenance needed due to a SaaS-based automated approach.

Pros and Cons of Snowflake

Snowflake, a robust cloud-based data warehousing solution, offers various advantages:

Pros of Snowflake

  • Data Science Capabilities: Robust capabilities for advanced analytics, providing a powerful toolkit for data science.
  • User-Friendly Interface: Easy-to-use interface, ensuring a smooth transition, with responsive technical support.
  • Versatile ETL Provisions: Diverse ETL provisions, enabling users to leverage their ETL pipelines, with evolving adapters for dynamic data processing needs.
  • Stability: Recognized for stability, providing a reliable foundation for diverse data operations.
  • SQL to NoSQL Translation: Seamlessly translates SQL workloads into NoSQL, enhancing flexibility in data utilization.
  • Time Travel Feature: Invaluable for accessing historical data, offering a crucial dimension to data exploration.
  • Cloning External Tables: Introduces the capability to clone external tables, facilitating practical data replication and management.
  • Innovative Functionality: Showcases standout features – Snowpiping, Time Travel, and Snowpipes – contributing to comprehensive functionality.

Cons of Snowflake

While versatile, Snowflake faces some challenges:

  • Integration Complexity: Needs improved integration capabilities, particularly with tools like Liquibase.
  • Data Sharing Limitations: Enhancements needed for more streamlined data sharing across different business units.
  • Machine Learning and AI Enhancement: Requires bolstering of machine learning and AI capabilities to align with evolving industry standards.
  • Operational Data Store (ODS) Space: Potential need for expanding the Operational Data Store (ODS) space within Snowflake.
  • Cost Transparency: Improvement in transparency over costs and pricing for informed decision-making and resource management.
  • Product Design Ambiguity: The design can be easily misunderstood, prompting a call for clearer communication and user understanding.
  • Migration Challenges: Clear need for easier migration processes, especially for Operational Data Store (ODS) features, facilitating seamless transitions from other platforms.
  • OLTP Feature Gap: Exploration of OLTP features to address scenarios where instantaneous query response times are crucial.
  • Python Integration Improvements: Room for improvement in integration with Python, ensuring a seamless experience for users switching between SQL and Python programming.

Azure Synapse vs Snowflake: A Detailed Comparison

ParametersAzure SynapseSnowflake
Overview Analytics layer on Azure Data Lake, integrates with Azure services.Designed for traditional BI workloads, simplistic, scalable.
Architecture MPP, scale-out architecture with distributed computational processing.MPP in hybrid mode, separate compute, storage, and cloud services.
Supported Languages Java, C#, PHPPython, JavaScript
In-Memory Competency YesNo
Partitioning Sharding, horizontallyMicro Partitioning
Scale Compute Uses Data Warehouse Unit for compute scaling.Uses’t-shirt' sizes for Virtual Machines to scale compute.
Security Features Enterprise-level security, single pricing tier.High security for dedicated compute, higher price level.
XML Support NoYes
Coupling Compute instance coupled to a unified database.Compute instance coupled to any database or dataset.
Query Support Supports cross-database queries, trigger-based file loads.Always supports cross-database queries, SnowPipes creation.
Cloud Platforms Executes on Azure Cloud Platform.Executes on Azure, AWS, Google Cloud, etc
Data Sharing Uses 'Azure Data Sharing' service for data sharing.Built-in data sharing within Snowflake technology.
Indexing Automatic data indexing with data partitioning on disk.Automatic data indexing with 'perform by default' concept
Secondary Index YesNo
Ease of Use Somewhat challenging for novices.User-friendly, even for novices.
Pricing Model Constant usage, costing per hour.Variable usage, costing per second.
Service Type Platform as a Service (PaaS)Software as a Service (SaaS)
Scalability Scalable in terms of certain features.Supports auto-scaling, more scalable.
Role of Administrators Administrators needed for monitoring critical services.Automatic monitoring, no need for administrators.
Data Integration Tightly integrated SQL engine and Apache Spark.Usage of ETL/ELT concept in data integration.
Integration with AI and MLn AI/ML integration with Azure Machine Learning and Power BI.AI integration with Driverless AI and automated ML.

Choosing Between Azure Synapse and Snowflake

Let us explore unique capabilities for various scenarios to make an informed decision between Azure Synapse vs Snowflake for your cloud data needs.

When To Use Azure Synapse:

  • Big Data Analytics: Telecom analyzing call data for network insights
  • Real-Time Analytics: Streaming service personalizing content recommendations
  • Unified Analytics Platform: Retail streamlining operations with combined data warehousing and analytics
  • Data Integration and Transformation: Manufacturing optimizing processes using diverse data
  • Data Exploration and Visualization: Marketing identifying trends for targeted campaigns
  • Operational Analytics: Finance detecting fraud in real-time transactions
  • Advanced Machine Learning: Healthcare predicting patient outcomes with vast datasets
  • Cost-Efficient Scaling: E-commerce optimizing resources for varying workloads
  • Security and Compliance Requirements: Government ensuring strict data security
  • Explore Azure Synapse Analytics in-depth and unlock its full potential for diverse applications!

When To Use Snowflake:

  • Large-Scale Data Warehousing: Retail analyzing sales trends, customer behavior, and inventory
  • Fraud Detection: Healthcare detecting fraud in claims data
  • Regulatory Compliance: Finance efficiently storing and analyzing compliance data
  • Risk Management: Finance identifying and mitigating potential risks
  • Inventory Management: Retail optimizing inventory levels and preventing stockouts
  • Product Development: Retail analyzing customer feedback and usage data for innovation
  • Quality Control: Manufacturing enhancing product quality through data analysis
  • Supply Chain Management: Manufacturing optimizing supply chains and reducing costs
  • Predictive Maintenance: Manufacturing predicting machine failures for proactive maintenance
  • Trend-Driven Analytics: Media and entertainment identifying trends for content development
  • Discover the versatility of Snowflake across industries and learn how it addresses specific business challenges effectively


In conclusion, the choice between Azure Synapse and Snowflake depends on various factors, including performance requirements, ease of use, integration needs, and cost considerations.

Azure Synapse, deeply integrated with the Azure ecosystem, may be the preferred choice for organizations already invested in Microsoft’s cloud services.

Its robust performance capabilities make it suitable for consistent high workloads. Conversely, Snowflake’s cloud-native design, user-friendly interface, and support for multiple clouds render it a flexible choice, particularly suitable for organizations with variable workloads and a multi-cloud approach.

Ultimately, the decision should stem from a comprehensive evaluation of the organization’s precise analytics requirements, current technological infrastructure, and overarching strategic objectives.

Both Azure Synapse and Snowflake are formidable platforms, and choosing the right one requires a careful consideration of the trade-offs and advantages each platform brings to the table.

Whether you prioritize seamless integration with the Azure ecosystem or value the simplicity and flexibility of a cloud-native architecture, making an informed decision will empower your organization to extract maximum value from its data analytics initiatives.

Happy Reading!