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 OSI PI Data Historian and Snowflake so you can quickly see how they compare against each other.
The primary purpose of this article is to compare how OSI PI Data Historian 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.
OSI PI Data Historian vs Snowflake Breakdown
Time series database/data historian
Cloud data warehouse
OSIsoft PI System is a suite of software products designed for real-time data collection, storage, and analysis of time series data in industrial environments. The PI System is built around the PI Server, which stores, processes, and serves data to clients, and it can be deployed on-premises or in the cloud.
Snowflake can be deployed across multiple cloud providers, including AWS, Azure, and Google Cloud
Industrial data management, real-time monitoring, asset health tracking, predictive maintenance, energy management
Big data analytics, Data warehousing, Data engineering, Data sharing, Machine learning
Supports horizontal scaling through distributed architecture, data replication, and data federation for large-scale deployments
Highly scalable with multi-cluster shared data architecture, automatic scaling, and performance isolation
OSI PI Data Historian Overview
OSI PI, also known as OSIsoft PI System, is an enterprise-level data management and analytics platform specifically designed for handling time series data from industrial processes, sensors, and other sources. Developed by OSIsoft (acquired by AVEVA in 2021), the PI System has been widely used in various industries such as energy, manufacturing, utilities, and pharmaceuticals since its introduction in the 1980s. It provides the ability to collect, store, analyze, and visualize large volumes of time series data in real-time, allowing organizations to gain insights, optimize processes, and improve decision-making.
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.
OSI PI Data Historian for Time Series Data
OSI PI was created for storing time series data, making it an ideal choice for organizations that need to manage large volumes of sensor and process data. Its architecture and components are optimized for collecting, storing, and analyzing time series data with high efficiency and minimal latency. The PI System’s scalability and performance make it a suitable solution for organizations dealing with vast amounts of data generated by industrial processes, IoT devices, or other sources.
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.
OSI PI Data Historian Key Concepts
- PI Server: The core component of the PI System, responsible for data collection, storage, and management.
- PI Interfaces and PI Connectors: Software components that collect data from various sources and send it to the PI Server.
- PI Asset Framework: A modeling framework that allows users to create a hierarchical structure of assets and their associated metadata, making it easier to understand and analyze data.
- PI DataLink: An add-in for Microsoft Excel that enables users to access and analyze PI System data directly from Excel.
- PI ProcessBook: A visualization tool for creating interactive, graphical displays of PI System data.
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.
OSI PI Data Historian Architecture
OSI PI is a data management platform built around the PI Server, which is responsible for data collection, storage, and management. The PI System uses a highly efficient, proprietary time series database to store data. PI Interfaces and PI Connectors collect data from various sources and send it to the PI Server. The PI Asset Framework (AF) allows users to model their assets and their associated data in a hierarchical structure, making it easier to understand and analyze the data. Various client tools, such as PI DataLink and PI ProcessBook, enable users to access and visualize data stored in the PI System.
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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OSI PI Data Historian Features
Data collection and storage
OSI PI’s PI Interfaces and PI Connectors enable seamless data collection from a wide variety of sources, while the PI Server efficiently stores and manages the data.
The PI System is highly scalable, allowing organizations to handle large volumes of data and a growing number of data sources without compromising performance.
The PI Asset Framework (AF) provides a powerful way to model assets and their associated data, making it easier to understand and analyze complex industrial processes.
Tools like PI DataLink and PI ProcessBook enable users to analyze and visualize data stored in the PI System, facilitating better decision-making and process optimization.
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.
OSI PI Data Historian Use Cases
OSI PI can help organizations identify inefficiencies, monitor performance, and optimize their industrial processes by providing real-time insights into time series data from sensors and other sources.
By analyzing historical data and detecting patterns or anomalies, OSI PI enables organizations to implement predictive maintenance strategies, reducing equipment downtime and maintenance costs.
OSI PI can be used to track energy consumption across various assets and processes, allowing organizations to identify areas for improvement and implement energy-saving measures.
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
OSI PI Data Historian Pricing Model
Pricing for OSI PI is typically based on a combination of factors such as the number of data sources, the number of users, and the level of support required. Pricing details are not publicly available, as they are provided on a quote basis depending on the specific needs of the organization.
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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