Choosing the right database is a critical choice when building any software application. All databases have different strengths and weaknesses when it comes to performance, so deciding which database has the most benefits and the most minor downsides for your specific use case and data model is an important decision. Below you will find an overview of the key concepts, architecture, features, use cases, and pricing models of AWS Timestream and Snowflake so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how AWS Timestream and Snowflake perform for workloads involving time series data, not for all possible use cases. Time series data typically presents a unique challenge in terms of database performance. This is due to the high volume of data being written and the query patterns to access that data. This article doesn’t intend to make the case for which database is better; it simply provides an overview of each database so you can make an informed decision.
AWS Timestream vs Snowflake Breakdown
Time series database
Cloud data warehouse
Timestream is a fully managed, serverless time series database service that is only available on AWS.
Snowflake can be deployed across multiple cloud providers, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud
Monitoring, observability, IoT, real-time analytics
Big data analytics, Data warehousing, Data engineering, Data sharing, Machine learning
Serverless and automatically scalable, handling ingestion, storage, and query workload without manual intervention
Highly scalable with multi-cluster shared data architecture, automatic scaling, and performance isolation
AWS Timestream Overview
AWS Timestream is a fully managed, serverless time series database service developed by Amazon Web Services (AWS). Launched in 2020, Timestream is designed specifically for handling time series data, making it an ideal choice for IoT, monitoring, and analytics applications that require high ingestion rates, efficient storage, and fast querying capabilities. As a part of the AWS ecosystem, Timestream seamlessly integrates with other AWS services, simplifying the process of building and deploying time series applications in the cloud.
Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehousing platform that was founded in 2012 and officially launched in 2014. It is designed to enable organizations to efficiently store, process, and analyze large volumes of structured and semi-structured data. Snowflake’s unique architecture separates storage, compute, and cloud services, allowing users to independently scale and optimize each component.
AWS Timestream for Time Series Data
AWS Timestream is designed specifically for handling time series data, making it a suitable choice for a wide range of applications that require high ingestion rates, efficient storage, and fast querying capabilities. Its dual-tiered storage architecture, consisting of the Memory Store and Magnetic Store, allows Timestream to automatically manage data retention and optimize storage costs based on data age and access patterns. Additionally, Timestream supports SQL-like querying and integrates with popular analytics tools, making it easy for users to gain insights from their time series data.
Snowflake for Time Series Data
While Snowflake is not specifically designed for time series data, it can still effectively store, process, and analyze such data due to its scalable and flexible architecture. Snowflake’s columnar storage format, combined with its powerful query engine and support for SQL, makes it a suitable option for time series data analysis.
AWS Timestream Key Concepts
- Memory Store: In AWS Timestream, the Memory Store is a component that stores recent, mutable time series data in memory for fast querying and analysis.
- Magnetic Store: The Magnetic Store in AWS Timestream is responsible for storing historical, immutable time series data on disk for cost-efficient, long-term storage.
- Time-to-Live (TTL): AWS Timestream allows users to set a TTL on their time series data, which determines how long data is retained in the Memory Store before being moved to the Magnetic Store or deleted.
Snowflake Key Concepts
- Virtual Warehouse: A compute resource in Snowflake that processes queries and performs data loading and unloading. Virtual Warehouses can be independently scaled up or down based on demand.
- Micro-Partition: A storage unit in Snowflake that contains a subset of the data in a table. Micro-partitions are automatically optimized for efficient querying.
- Time Travel: A feature in Snowflake that allows users to query historical data at specific points in time or within a specific time range.
- Data Sharing: The ability to securely share data between Snowflake accounts, without the need to copy or transfer the data.
AWS Timestream Architecture
Timestream is built on a serverless, distributed architecture that supports SQL-like querying capabilities. Its data model is specifically tailored for time series data, using time-stamped records and a flexible schema that can accommodate varying data granularities and dimensions. The core components of Timestream’s architecture include the Memory Store and the Magnetic Store, which together manage data retention, storage, and querying. The Memory Store is optimized for fast querying of recent data, while the Magnetic Store provides cost-efficient, long-term storage for historical data.
Snowflake’s architecture separates storage, compute, and cloud services, allowing users to scale and optimize each component independently. The platform uses a columnar storage format and supports ANSI SQL for querying and data manipulation. Snowflake is built on top of AWS, Azure, and GCP, providing a fully managed, elastic, and secure data warehouse solution. Key components of the Snowflake architecture include databases, tables, virtual warehouses, and micro-partitions.
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AWS Timestream Features
AWS Timestream’s serverless architecture eliminates the need for users to manage or provision infrastructure, making it easy to scale and reducing operational overhead.
Timestream’s dual-tiered storage architecture, consisting of the Memory Store and Magnetic Store, automatically manages data retention and optimizes storage costs based on data age and access patterns.
AWS Timestream supports SQL-like querying and integrates with popular analytics tools, making it easy for users to gain insights from their time series data.
Snowflake’s architecture allows for independent scaling of storage and compute resources, enabling users to quickly adjust to changing workloads and demands.
Snowflake is a fully managed service, eliminating the need for users to manage infrastructure, software updates, or backups.
Snowflake provides comprehensive security features, including encryption at rest and in transit, multi-factor authentication, and fine-grained access control.
Snowflake enables secure data sharing between accounts without the need to copy or transfer data.
AWS Timestream Use Cases
IoT device monitoring
AWS Timestream’s support for high ingestion rates and efficient storage makes it an ideal choice for monitoring and analyzing data from IoT devices, such as sensors and smart appliances.
Application performance monitoring
Timestream’s fast querying capabilities and ability to handle large volumes of time series data make it suitable for application performance monitoring, allowing users to track and analyze key performance indicators in real-time and identify bottlenecks or issues.
AWS Timestream can be used to monitor and analyze infrastructure metrics, such as CPU utilization, memory usage, and network traffic, enabling organizations to optimize resource utilization, identify potential issues, and maintain a high level of performance for their critical systems.
Snowflake Use Cases
Snowflake provides a scalable, secure, and fully managed data warehousing solution, making it suitable for organizations that need to store, process, and analyze large volumes of structured and semi-structured data.
Snowflake can serve as a data lake for ingesting and storing large volumes of raw, unprocessed data, which can be later transformed and analyzed as needed.
Data Integration and ETL
Snowflake’s support for SQL and various data loading and unloading options makes it a good choice for data integration and ETL
AWS Timestream Pricing Model
AWS Timestream offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model based on data ingestion, storage, and query execution. Ingestion costs are determined by the volume of data ingested into Timestream, while storage costs are based on the amount of data stored in the Memory Store and Magnetic Store. Query execution costs are calculated based on the amount of data scanned and processed during query execution. Timestream also offers a free tier for users to explore the service and build proof-of-concept applications without incurring costs.
Snowflake Pricing Model
Snowflake offers a pay-as-you-go pricing model, with separate charges for storage and compute resources. Storage is billed on a per-terabyte, per-month basis, while compute resources are billed based on usage, measured in Snowflake Credits. Snowflake offers various editions, including Standard, Enterprise, Business Critical, and Virtual Private Snowflake, each with different features and pricing options. Users can also opt for on-demand or pre-purchased, discounted Snowflake Credits.
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