• Data & AI
  • May 16, 2022

Data migration with Snowflake – Best Practices and Benefits

Data migration with Snowflake – Best Practices and Benefits
Data migration with Snowflake – Best Practices and Benefits
  • Data & AI
  • May 16, 2022

Data migration with Snowflake – Best Practices and Benefits

In today’s digital economy, IT applications and infrastructure are moving to the cloud at a rapid pace. The role of data migration in this transformation journey is getting supercritical being the most important success factor. This blog article dwells on the subject of data migration, its challenges, and how migrating to Snowflake helps. Let’s first understand what data migration entails.

What is Data Migration?

Data migration is the process of moving a target data or application from one environment to another in a planned and controlled manner. Migration of Data is completed by decomposing the target data into a collection of logical elements, packaging the elements, and migrating them to a different environment.

Data migration is a significant challenge for business management. Especially when it comes to cloud-based platforms, data management is crucial. Most companies have been dealing with massive databases by different processes like ETL or data mapping. The majority of the organizations used to buy dedicated hardware for hosting their databases and used to hire experts for data migration purposes. But recently cloud services have gained popularity due to its many benefits.

One of the biggest challenges for a Database Administrator is to come up with a feasible plan for migrating data from one database to another. It is no secret that the way one moves and migrates data has a big impact on how much downtime one’s users will see. This can be detrimental if it is not properly scheduled. This is where Snowflake’s data migration services are a valuable ally, as they can be used to help you get data migrated with minimal downtime and even no downtime at all.

Are you facing challenges with data migration?

Data Migration Challenges

Data migration is often a time-consuming and costly process. It’s also an area where many organizations struggle to find the right balance between cost and quality.

Data migration challenges are often difficult to identify, especially for companies that don’t have a formalized data governance program. Some common data migration challenges would be:

  • Lack of awareness of the need for data migration among companies. Many companies do not realize the importance of migrating data from one system to another until it is too late.
  • Scheduling and prioritizing migrations due to competing demands from different business units.
  • The cost of data migration is high and varies according to the size and complexity of your database, which makes it difficult for you to budget your expenses accordingly.
  • Data quality issues such as duplicates and missing data records.
  • Lack of control over the data migration process, particularly when using third parties.
  • Data migration delays caused by lack of skilled resources.
  • Data loss due to an issue with the database itself or even something as simple as someone forgetting to include them in the migration process.
  • Security issues while moving from one platform to another as it can be easy for hackers to access your data and steal it. It could also lead to malware or viruses being introduced into your system which will cause problems with performance, security and more.
  • Lack of integrated process as many companies do not have defined processes for implementing data migrations, which can lead to miscommunication and missed deadlines.
  • Lack of source data’s knowledge. This can be particularly problematic if the company has not clearly documented its specifications or has not assigned responsibility for managing those specifications during the project.
  • Data governance is essential for ensuring that all parties involved in a project have access to the correct information and can communicate with each other effectively throughout the migration process. Lack of data governance causes mistakes in data modeling and further down the road.
  • Improper analysis of the data being migrated.

Inadequate communication between IT and business users leading to delays in project timelines and even costly mistakes that could have been avoided with better communication between IT professionals and business users.

Like any major move, a data migration comes with its own set of challenges. In the past, these were largely technical. Organizations would have to create a plan for hardware maintenance and ensure that their applications were running on the new system without too many issues. Now that data is often moving from an on-premises warehouse to the cloud. The cloud is a fast-moving environment; hence companies must carefully weigh the benefits of migrating against their desire to keep up with the latest technologies.

One new challenge is keeping up with rapid product development cycles. Companies are constantly updating their software in order to accommodate new business demands and keep up with security threats. As they do so, they must carefully consider whether migrating their data will allow them to take advantage of these new features or hinder them by causing compatibility problems with older systems.

Another issue related to maintaining compatibility is choosing the right platform for your company’s needs. The cloud offers companies more options than ever before when it comes to storage and computing resources and that can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with all of them yet.

Snowflake Migration and its benefits

Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehouse that’s become popular with companies that want a flexible, scalable way to analyze big data, and with organizations that need to make their data available in the cloud but don’t want the operational overhead of managing their own infrastructure. Snowflake’s ability to scale data warehouse processing capacity up and down almost instantly makes it an ideal platform for data lake-to-warehouse migration projects.

Looking for Snowflake migration?

Snowflake is also a good option for companies looking for a cost-effective way to build out their data lake without having to worry about whether they’ve estimated correctly on how much storage or processing capacity will be needed.

Snowflake is a true cloud data warehouse with built-in support for semi-structured data, ACID transactions, and dynamic scaling. These are just a few of the reasons why it’s our first choice for migrating customer workloads to the cloud. Here are some others:

  • It’s easy to use– So many different applications generate data that needs to be stored, but there’s no need to have an army of people handling it. A single person can easily manage Snowflake’s cloud data warehouse. It only takes a few clicks to set up, and because it’s a cloud service, you don’t have to worry about provisioning hardware or keeping your software up-to-date.
  • No need to change existing infrastructure– Migrating data to Snowflake is as easy as copying and pasting it into the database. With its native support for semi-structured data, like JSON, XML and Parquet files, you don’t have to spend time reworking existing systems before they’re ready for use in Snowflake.
  • It scales automatically and on-demand– Snowflake allows organizations to move their data from on-premises or even from another cloud provider to Snowflake’s data warehouse without any downtime, complexities, or losing any data and also automatically scaling it as per demand.
  • Offers flexibility in terms of the size of data sets– Several other tools and platforms have limits on the amount of data that can be migrated. However, with Snowflake, there are no such limitations.
  • Backup– Snowflake automatically performs backup on all of your data.
  • One-click data loading– Snowflake is really good at loading data using data pipelines. It takes just one click in the GUI (web console) to start loading a file into a table.

Snowflake Migration- Best practices

Some best practices that ensure safe migration of your data to snowflake are as follows:

1. Plan ahead and set clear goals:

Before you start, plan how long it will take to migrate your data from your existing environment to Snowflake and what new features you want to use once the migration is complete.

2. Be ready with a pre-migration preparation

such as:

  • Ensuring that there is no active usage of any object in source or target accounts during the migration
  • Ensuring that there are no uncommitted transactions on source or target accounts at the time of migration start.
  • Preparing a list of all databases, schemas, tables, views, and functions which need to be migrated from one account to another.

3. Identify which tables are being migrated and why:

If large volumes of data are involved, identify tables with high query rates first since these will likely require more resources from the server during migration. You should also prioritize tables that have additional columns added over time because they may require additional maintenance when they are migrated to Snowflake later on.

4. Normalize schema:

The schema should be normalized with no repeating groups or columns, no nullable columns and no duplicate values in primary keys or unique constraints. Also make sure that all tables have a primary key constraint defined, unless they are temporary tables whose contents are never updated after creation.

5. Use data pipeline:

Data Pipeline provides robust error checking and validation during each step of the migration. It also allows you to resume failed jobs without having to restart them from scratch.

6. Migrate in stages:

Avoid migrating all your data at once as it could cause downtime. Instead, choose a subset of tables or databases you wish to migrate first and move them over.

7. Use file-based transfer:

This involves using a staging area for your data and then uploading it through files in Snowflake. You can create external stages, internal stages, or named file formats.


The need for data migration and its process is rising everyday as business expand globally and customers have the ability to access internet through multiple devices. Proper preparation and proper design of the data migration strategy and implementation of all technical and soft aspects in the whole process are critical for the business’s success.

Snowflake database architecture has been around for over 50 years now. All things considered, a snowflake migration is worth looking into if you have a large enough database that backup and restore operations take a long time to complete. If so, you can maximize your resources in the cloud by migrating your database to the cloud, which will reduce your workload on-premise.