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A Guide to Snowflake Data Types

Numeric counts, location, time, true or false statements. All of these data types have potential business value, so organizations need a data storage solution that accommodates them. Snowflake does this (and more). As a powerful, Cloud-based data warehouse solution, Snowflake enables users to handle a wide range of data with precision and efficiency.

This blog gives an overview of some of the most common Snowflake data types and why businesses choose Snowflake. We then cover integrating data into Snowflake, and how Astrato adds value to Snowflake data.

Snowflake Data Types: A Primer

Snowflake supports a diverse range of data types – including most SQL data types –  that cater to various data requirements. Whether it’s structured (like dates and times), semi-structured (like emails and web pages), or unstructured data (like text, audio files, or raw data), Snowflake’s data types offer the versatility needed for effective data management. Here are some common data types enabled in Snowflake:

Numeric Data Types: Snowflake offers a range of numeric data types, including INTEGER, BIGINT, FLOAT, and DECIMAL. These data types allow you to handle numerical values of different scales and precision.

String Data Types: STRING and VARCHAR are commonly used data types for handling text-based information. Snowflake’s STRING data type is suitable for storing fixed-length character data, while VARCHAR is ideal for variable-length text.

Date and Time Data Types: Snowflake simplifies date and time handling with DATE, TIME, TIMESTAMP, and TIMESTAMP_NTZ (normalized for time zone) data types. These enable accurate representation and manipulation of temporal information.

Boolean Data Type: The BOOLEAN data type is used to represent true or false values, facilitating logical operations within your queries.

Semi-Structured Data Types: Snowflake supports the VARIANT data type, which is designed to handle semi-structured data like JSON, XML, and AVRO. This allows you to efficiently store and query complex data structures.

Binary Data Type: The BINARY data type is useful for storing binary data, such as images or files, directly within Snowflake.

Array Data Types: Snowflake’s ARRAY data type enables you to store arrays of values, adding an extra layer of flexibility to your data storage.

Why Snowflake?

Snowflake offers several compelling benefits that contribute to its growing popularity as a data warehouse solution. Here are some of them:

Elastic Scalability: Snowflake’s architecture allows users to scale resources up or down on-demand, ensuring optimal performance without manual intervention.

Zero Management Overhead: With Snowflake, the platform handles tasks like infrastructure provisioning, maintenance, and tuning. This allows data teams to focus on tasks that more directly create business value, like analysis and insights (more on that in a moment).

Data Sharing: Snowflake’s data sharing capabilities enable seamless collaboration between different teams or organizations, without the need for complex data transfers.

Security and Compliance: Snowflake prioritizes data security, providing advanced encryptionaccess controls, and compliance certifications, ensuring high-level data security.

Getting Started with Data Integration

Data integration is the process of combining data from different sources into a single, unified view. This can be a complex task, as the data may be in different formats, have different structures, and even be inconsistent. Data integration typically involves the following steps:

Extraction: This is the process of retrieving data from the source systems.

Cleansing: This is the process of cleaning up the data to remove errors and inconsistencies.

Transformation: This is the process of converting the data into a common format that can be used by the target system.

Loading: To load data into Snowflake, we can stage it first. Snowflake stages are used to store and manage data files, allowing users to efficiently load data into Snowflake tables from various external sources. These include Cloud storage platforms like Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure Blob Storage, and Google Cloud Storage. Staging is an essential step in the data loading process as it allows the user to validate, transform, and organize data before it’s loaded into Snowflake tables.

Astrato: Enhancing the Snowflake Experience

A Snowflake Technology Partner, Astrato is a Cloud-native Business Intelligence (BI) solution, offering powerful data analysis and visualization via a sleek, intuitive interface. Astrato makes it easy and fast for any user to interact with their data and extract meaningful, actionable insights.

Here are a few of the key ways Astrato enables users to harness the value of Snowflake data:

Surface UDFs: One especially powerful Snowflake feature is Snowpark. In Snowpark, a developer framework where users can create User-Defined Functions (UDFs) in Python, Java, or Scala to supplement Snowflake’s SQL interface. UDFs enable custom logic and transformations directly within Snowflake, as well as more advanced analytics. Combined with the extensive data warehouse capabilities, the result is more relevant, more powerful BI.

Ensure Data Quality: Astrato’s data governance features enable data quality monitoring and validation, ensuring your data remains accurate and trustworthy. The substantial scope for automated data discovery and analysis ensures this quality remains consistent.

Collaborate Effectively: Astrato enhances collaboration by providing a centralized platform for data documentation, annotations, and sharing. Cloud-based live query means there is no data movement, ensuring a single source of truth. This is essential for effective collaboration. Additionally, Astrato’s writeback input form transforms dashboards from look-but-don’t-touch visualizations into dynamic, interactive interfaces. Users can include fresh data entries or enrich existing data with essential context. In both cases, Astrato is facilitating collaboration and delivering better BI.

Compatibility: Both Snowflake and Astrato make state-of-the-art data management, analysis, and visualization approachable and easy to use. As a trusted Snowflake technology partner, Astrato integrates seamlessly with Snowflake. This compatibility means organizations get the full benefit of their data stored in Snowflake. Astrato allows business users to interrogate and visualize their Snowflake data quickly and easily. For the organization, this means better, data-driven decision-making.

Conclusion

Snowflake’s extensive support for various data types, combined with its scalability, security, and ease of use, make it a standout platform for modern big data management. Stacking with Astrato adds intuitive, automated data analysis and visualization for data stored in Snowflake.

This way, business users can access Snowflake’s data warehousing solution and generate their own powerful BI insights. Learn more about how Astrato can leverage the power of your Snowflake data by booking a demo here!