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Mastering Snowflake Performance Tuning and Cost Optimization: Encora's Expertise

In the ever-evolving landscape of cloud-based data warehousing, Snowflake stands out as a powerful and versatile solution. As organizations harness the immense potential of Snowflake, one crucial element emerges as a game-changer: performance tuning and cost optimization. This technical blog sheds light on the exceptional expertise of Encora's Snowflake Practitioners Group in these domains. We'll explore real-world success stories, innovative strategies, and practical insights into how this dedicated group leveraged Snowflake's capabilities to transform ELT run times and reduce credit consumption by approximately 50%.

The Snowflake Advantage

Snowflake, with its innovative architecture that separates storage and compute, has become the go-to solution for organizations dealing with high volumes of data processing. This unique design allows organizations to scale their compute resources independently of their storage needs, providing unmatched flexibility and efficiency in managing large datasets.

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Meet the Snowflake Practitioners Group

Encora's Snowflake Practitioners Group comprises a dedicated team of experts who have mastered the intricacies of Snowflake's virtual warehouses. They understand that the effective utilization of Snowflake's powerful features is the key to unlocking cost control, enhancing query performance, and optimizing resource allocation. This group brings together years of hands-on experience, industry insights, and a commitment to staying at the forefront of Snowflake's capabilities.

The Foundation: Snowflake Warehouse Considerations

To understand the success of the Snowflake Practitioners Group, we must first delve into the foundational principles of Snowflake warehouse considerations. The group's expertise lies in its profound understanding of these key concepts:

  1. Experimentation: Snowflake's flexibility enables experimentation with various warehouse sizes and types. This approach empowers organizations to tailor their warehouses to match specific query needs and workload requirements.
  2. Credit Charging: A crucial aspect of cost management is understanding Snowflake's credit billing structure. The team is well-versed in how credits are charged, enabling effective control over credit consumption.
  3. Query Composition: The Practitioners Group recognizes that the complexity and size of queries significantly impact the required warehouse resources. By optimizing query composition and executing similar queries in the same warehouse, they achieve better performance.
  4. Warehouse Caching: Balancing the need to save credits by suspending warehouses while maintaining the cache for improved performance is a skill the group has mastered.
  5. Scaling Up vs. Scaling Out: Snowflake offers two approaches to scaling warehouses: scaling up by resizing a warehouse and scaling out by adding clusters to a multi-cluster warehouse. The group's expertise helps organizations choose the right approach for their specific workloads.


For further reading please visit Snowflake’s Warehouse Considerations page here:

The Performance Tuning Use Case

The heart of Encora's success story lies in a real-world performance tuning use case. Initially, there were over 500 ELT jobs running on a 2XL warehouse with 2 clusters, a setup that was far from optimal. Leveraging historical data, the Practitioners Group categorized the jobs into groups based on their resource requirements. To dynamically select the appropriate warehouse size at runtime, the ELT framework was modified.

Continuous monitoring and analysis revealed that using smaller warehouse sizes with more clusters allowed for higher concurrency. The result? A significant reduction in ELT run time and credit consumption by approximately 50%. This transformation wasn't solely about scaling up or out but about striking the perfect balance between resource allocation and concurrency.


The Role of the ELT Framework

At the core of this transformation lay a home-grown ELT framework. This Java and SQL-based framework provided a unique level of flexibility, allowing the injection of SQL statements at strategic points during the execution of ELT jobs. This innovation enabled the ELT framework to dynamically alter warehouse sizes at runtime, a pivotal factor in achieving the desired performance improvements.

The ability to inject SQL statements meant that the ELT framework could adapt to the specific resource requirements of each job, selecting the appropriate warehouse size for optimal execution. This dynamic adjustment was particularly valuable for achieving efficiency in Snowflake's per-second billing model, ensuring that resources were allocated precisely as needed. The ELT framework's adaptability played a significant role in optimizing resource usage.

Job Categorization: Light, Heavy, and Heaviest

To navigate the complex landscape of ELT jobs, Encora's Snowflake Practitioners Group undertook a meticulous process of job categorization. This classification was based on several factors, including resource requirements, data volumes, and the nature of transformations applied during job execution. The jobs were then grouped into three distinct categories: Light, Heavy, and Heaviest.

Light Jobs:

  • These jobs processed relatively low volumes of data.
  • They primarily involved straightforward operations, such as data copying from the staging area to the enterprise data warehouse (EDW) area.
  • Light jobs typically performed minimal data transformations, often focusing on cleansing and data quality checks.
  • The absence of complex join or aggregation operations characterized these jobs.

Heavy Jobs:

  • Heavy jobs were characterized by more extensive data processing requirements.
  • They encompassed data cleansing and transformation operations, including joining data from various sources to enhance usability.
  • These jobs often served as intermediaries, preparing data for subsequent analytics and reporting processes.
  • The involvement of multiple datasets and transformations made heavy jobs more resource-intensive compared to their light counterparts.

Heaviest Jobs:

  • The heaviest jobs were the powerhouses of data processing.
  • They handled substantial data volumes and were responsible for performing intricate operations.
  • These jobs included operations such as aggregations, joins, and data flattening to create consolidated datasets or data marts.
  • The scale and complexity of these jobs placed them in a league of their own in terms of resource requirements.


The categorization process served as a vital foundation for optimizing resource allocation. It allowed the Practitioners Group to tailor warehouse sizes and concurrency settings based on the nature and demands of each job category. This precise resource allocation was a key factor in achieving a remarkable reduction in ELT run time and credit consumption, by approximately 50%.

The success of this transformation demonstrated that performance tuning in Snowflake goes beyond merely scaling up or out. It's about finding the delicate balance between resource allocation and concurrency and leveraging the capabilities of a flexible ELT framework to adapt in real-time. This journey underscores the potential of Snowflake's cloud data warehousing platform when combined with Encora's expertise to unlock efficiencies and deliver tangible results.

Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring Service by Encora

In the realm of data transformation and analytics, the pursuit of performance optimization is an ongoing journey. As the volume of data continues to surge and the intricacy of ELT (Extract, Load, Transform) pipelines escalates, keeping a keen eye on performance and cost efficiency becomes paramount. This is where Encora's Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring Service steps in as a game-changer.


Enabling Continuous Performance Enhancement

Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring is a specialized offering by Encora, designed to enhance the performance, cost-effectiveness, and reliability of ELT pipelines. It stands as a powerful ally in the quest to optimize Snowflake data pipelines.

Real-Time Observability

One of the standout features of Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring is its real-time observability. It provides customers with a bird's-eye view of their ELT processes, offering insights into resource utilization, query execution times, and concurrency levels. This real-time visibility into the health of ELT pipelines empowers data teams to proactively address any performance bottlenecks or anomalies as they occur.

Cost and Performance Tuning Recommendations

Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring goes beyond passive observation; it actively analyzes ELT processes and recommends opportunities for cost and performance tuning. Leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning, it identifies areas where efficiency can be enhanced. This could include warehouse sizing adjustments, query optimizations, and resource allocation refinements.

Ongoing Monitoring and Adaptation

Performance optimization is not a one-time effort but an ongoing commitment. Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring excels in this domain by continually monitoring ELT pipelines. It keeps a watchful eye on performance metrics, identifying changes in data volume, query complexity, or resource requirements. When alterations are detected, the service suggests adjustments to maintain optimal performance.


Customized Insights and Reporting

Encora's Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring Service offers a customizable experience, tailoring insights and reports to align with specific business objectives. It delivers actionable recommendations aligned with individual customer goals and objectives. This personalized approach ensures that the focus remains on what matters most to each organization.

Unleashing the Potential of Snowflake

Snowflake, as a cloud data warehousing platform, offers unparalleled capabilities for handling vast amounts of data and executing complex queries. However, harnessing its full potential requires a holistic approach that encompasses not only robust technology but also expert guidance and continuous monitoring.

Encora's Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring Service serves as a bridge between your organization and the promise of Snowflake. It is a testament to our commitment to delivering cutting-edge data transformation and analytics solutions finely tuned to provide tangible, sustainable benefits.

In the ever-evolving landscape of data analytics, where performance is the linchpin, Encora's Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring Service is the compass that guides you toward efficiency, cost savings, and lasting success. It's the tool that ensures your ELT pipelines are not just optimized today but are continuously adapted to thrive in the data-intensive world of tomorrow.

Closing Remarks

The journey we've explored here is a testament to the potential that organizations can unlock when they leverage Snowflake's capabilities and the expertise of Encora's Snowflake Practitioners Group. It showcases the remarkable performance improvements and cost savings achievable in the dynamic realm of data warehousing.

However, the path to optimization is not a one-time endeavor but a continuous voyage. As more data jobs are added and volumes grow, the need for ongoing monitoring and tuning becomes essential. Encora's Snowflake Practitioners Group is your steadfast companion on this journey, offering expertise and innovative solutions. Together with Encora's Gen-AI Observability and Monitoring service, organizations can ensure their data processing remains at peak efficiency and cost-effectiveness. So, embrace the journey, explore the possibilities, and unlock the true potential of Snowflake, one query at a time.

About the Author

Kedarnath Waval is a seasoned Solution Architect in Encora's Snowflake Practitioners Group, with over 20 years of experience in data architecture and business intelligence. Proficient in SQL, ETL, and data pipelines, he is committed to optimizing data-driven solutions, achieving cost savings, and process improvements.

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