Snowflake vs Databricks | Side by Side comparison

Snowflake is a cloud data platform, while Databricks is a data analytics platform. Both have their strengths and best suited for different use cases.


Jatin Solanki

September 25, 2023

Data is king, and managing and analyzing it effectively is essential for businesses to stay agile. Snowflake and Databricks are the most popular and powerful data management and analysis platforms. Yet, picking between the two can be difficult, especially for those new to the world of data management and analysis. We are here to help! In today’s blog post, we’ll compare and discriminate both platforms, highlighting their unique features and benefits and helping you make an informed decision in choosing the right platform for your business. So, let's dive in…

Key Features and Benefits (Snowflake vs Databricks):

Before deciding on the platform, it’s important to understand the offerings. The features and benefits of Snowflake and Databricks set them apart and make them stand out in data management and analysis. Both offer a range of attributes and advantages that make them appealing options for businesses. Let us see them below:

Snowflake's key features include the following:

  • Flexible scaling to handle any amount of data
  • Nil management is required for hardware, software, or tuning
  • In-built security features to protect your data
  • Support for a variety of data sources and integration with popular BI tools
From: Snowflake

Databricks, on the other hand, offers features such as:

  • A unified system for data users
  • Collaboration tools to enable teams to work together on data projects
  • Automated machine learning to simplify model building and deployment
  • Integration with popular big data frameworks like Spark and Hadoop

So, whether you're looking for a scalable data warehousing solution or powerful data analysis and machine learning capabilities, Snowflake and Databricks have you covered. By understanding these distinctions, organizations can choose the platform that provides the most value and enables them to unlock the full potential of their data. 

Performance Comparison:

Snowflake and Databricks offer impressive results when it comes to performance. Snowflake's elastic scaling allows it to handle massive amounts of data without any performance loss. At the same time, Databricks' optimized Spark engine makes it a powerful tool for data processing and machine learning.

  1. Scalability Comparison: Scalability is an area where both Snowflake and Databricks excel. Scaling up or down as needed is easy with Snowflake’s architecture, making it an ideal option for businesses that handle large amounts of data. Databricks can handle massive data volumes and provide real-time processing and analytics. 

            Talking about architecture, let us see how both platforms are different:

  • Data Architecture: Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehousing platform that uses a multi-cluster shared data architecture. Data is stored in a separate compute and storage layer, allowing for separate scaling of compute and storage resources. The data is stored in a proprietary columnar format for efficient querying and compression.

            Databricks unified data analytics platform uses a distributed computing architecture. It leverages Apache Spark as its processing engine and supports various data sources and file formats. The data is reserved in a spread files              system like Hadoop or AWS S3 and processed using Spark's in-memory computing capacities.

  • Processing Architecture: Snowflake uses a shared-nothing processing architecture. This means each computes node has its CPU, memory, and storage and processes data independently. This allows for easy scaling by adding more compute nodes to the cluster.

            Databricks uses a distributed processing architecture, with a cluster of worker nodes processing data in parallel. It uses Spark's RDD (Resilient Distributed Datasets) abstraction to manage data processing and distribution             across the cluster.

  • Security Architecture: Snowflake's security architecture is designed to keep customer data secure, including support for encryption at rest and in transit, network isolation, and user and role-based access control. It also includes data masking and secure views to protect sensitive data.

            Databricks also provides strong security measures, including rest and transit encryption, network isolation, and user and role-based access control. It also has in-built integration with Identity and Access Management (IAM)             systems, allowing more fine-grained control over access to data and resources.

  1. Cost Comparison: When it comes to cost, both Snowflake and Databricks offer a variety of pricing options. Snowflake's pricing is based on usage, with costs increasing as you use more resources. Databricks offers a variety of pricing tiers based on the features you need, with costs increasing as you scale up.


Snowflake is known for its easy integration with SaaS (Software as a Service) applications. Snowflake's cloud-native architecture and extensive set of APIs and connectors make it simple for users to connect to a wide range of SaaS tools and platforms, such as Salesforce, AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform. Additionally, Snowflake's flexible data sharing capabilities enable seamless collaboration between different organizations, making it an ideal choice for SaaS companies that need to securely share data with their customers or partners.

Databricks introduced Delta Lake, an open-source storage layer that brings ACID transactions, versioning, and schema enforcement to data lakes. It enables users to build reliable and scalable data pipelines with improved performance. Databricks is built on top of Apache Spark, a powerful open-source distributed data processing engine. It enables advanced data processing tasks like ETL, machine learning, and graph processing

When to Choose Snowflake or Databricks:

When choosing between Snowflake and Databricks, both are suited to different types of data projects. Snowflake is ideal for businesses that need to store and process large amounts of data, while Databricks is better suited to data projects that involve machine learning and AI.

There are several factors to consider to get it right while choosing the right platform. Let us consider scenarios where one platform may be a better fit than the other:

  1. Cloud Data Warehousing: As highlighted before, If your organization requires a scalable, cloud-based data warehousing solution that can handle large volumes of data, Snowflake may be the more useful choice. Its multi-cluster shared data architecture allows for separate scaling of compute and storage resources, making it easy to handle large amounts of data. Additionally, Snowflake's proprietary columnar format allows for efficient querying and compression, making it a popular choice for data warehousing.
  2. Data Analysis and Machine Learning: Databricks may be the more suitable option if you focus on data analysis and machine learning. Its spread processing architecture using Apache Spark and support for various programming languages like Python, R, Scala, and Java make it a favored choice for data analysis and machine learning applications. 
  3. Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics: Snowflake may be the better choice if your organization needs to integrate with BI tools and support standard SQL. Its broad compatibility with BI tools like Tableau, PowerBI, and Excel, as well as support for standard SQL, makes it a popular choice for business intelligence and analytics applications.
  4. Security and Compliance: Both Snowflake and Databricks provide strong security measures and compliance certifications, such as SOC 2, HIPAA, and GDPR. However, Snowflake's security architecture is designed to keep customer data secure, including support for data masking, secure views, and network isolation. If data security and compliance are top preferences, Snowflake may be the better choice.

Final Verdict:

Snowflake or Databricks? So, which platform is better for your data needs? Ultimately, it depends on your specific requirement. Snowflake may be the better option if you need a cloud-based data warehousing platform that's easy to use. If you need a unified data analytics platform that endows machine learning and AI, Databricks may be the way to go.

Both Snowflake and Databricks offer powerful tools for managing and analyzing data. You can choose the best platform for your business by considering your specific needs. Whether you choose Snowflake or Databricks, you will be sufficiently equipped to handle your data needs and gain valuable insights to help you make better business decisions.

Need help in selecting - contact us and we are happy to help

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