Snowflake vs ClickHouse
Compare and contrast Snowflake and ClickHouse by architecture, ingestion, queries, performance, and scalability.
Snowflake vs ClickHouse Architecture
Snowflake is the data warehouse built for the cloud. Snowflake is well-known for separating storage and compute for better price performance. With Snowflake, multiple virtual warehouses can be spun up or down for batch data loading, transformations and queries all on the same shared data.
ClickHouse is open source and can be deployed anywhere. Several vendors such as ClickHouse, the company, and Tinybird also offer cloud versions. Compute and storage are tightly coupled, although ClickHouse Cloud was rearchitected to decouple compute and storage. ClickHouse Cloud pricing is based on compute and storage usage.
Snowflake vs ClickHouse Ingestion
Snowflake is an immutable data warehouse that is built for batch ingestion and relies heavily on the modern data stack ecosystem for data connectors and transformations. Snowflake has a number of integrations to ETL and ELT solutions including Fivetran, Hevo, Striim and dbt. While Snowflake does have support for semi-structured data in the form of a VARIANT type, it is best to structure the data for optimal query performance.
ClickHouse has core integrations from common sources such as Kafka and S3. It recently introduced greater ability to handle semi-structured data using the JSON Object type and automatic schema inference.
Snowflake vs ClickHouse Performance
Snowflake is designed for batch analytics with analysts and data scientists infrequently accessing large-scale data for trend analysis. Snowflake, like many data warehouses, is immutable and does not support frequently changing data efficiently. Snowflake uses a columnar store to return aggregations and metrics efficiently, often with query response times in the seconds to minutes on petabytes of data.
ClickHouse leverages column orientation and heavy compression for better performance on analytics workloads. It also uses indexing to accelerate queries as well. While ClickHouse use cases often involve streaming data from Kafka, batching data is recommended for efficient ingestion.
Snowflake vs ClickHouse Queries
Snowflake supports SQL as its native query language and can perform SQL joins. Snowflake for developers introduced a number of developer tools including SQL APIs, UDFs and drivers to support application development. As Snowflake was originally built for business intelligence workloads, it integrates with a number of visualization tools for trend analysis.
ClickHouse uses SQL for querying, with support for SQL joins. ClickHouse integrates with some common tools for visual analytics, including Superset, Grafana and Tableau.
Snowflake vs ClickHouse Scalability
Snowflake virtual warehouses can be scaled up for faster queries or scaled out using multi-cluster warehouses to support higher concurrency workloads. Snowflake has shared blob storage that scales automatically and independently.
ClickHouse can be used in both single-node and distributed modes. Tight coupling of compute and storage and the need to rebalance data make scaling out more complex, but cloud versions of ClickHouse help automate this process.