High Availability and Disaster Recovery in Snowflake

High Availability and Disaster Recovery in Snowflake

Data-driven digital transformation is the future of business. High availability is critical for any digital transformation strategy to be successful. Snowflake, a cloud-based data platform, offers high availability and disaster recovery solutions to ensure business continuity. With Snowflake’s advanced technology, organizations can take their data-driven transformation to the next level. Snowflake’s data warehousing and analytics capabilities enable businesses to derive insights that drive better decision-making, enabling them to remain competitive in today’s fast-paced digital world.

High Availability

Let’s first define high availability to better grasp the high availability features that Snowflake offers to offer.
The term “high availability” (HA) describes a system’s capacity to function continuously without error for a predetermined amount of time. HA works to make sure a system satisfies a predetermined standard of operational performance.

Several factors make high availability crucial.

  1. Protection from downtime
  2. Protects you from losing revenue
  3. Makes maintenance simpler.
  4. Most flexibility
  5. Increases your adaptability and resilience.

A highly available data platform in the cloud, Snowflake was created with a 99.9% or higher availability service level across all editions. To help customers ensure that their data and data platform are always available while relieving them of some infrastructure management duties, it has integrated comprehensive fault tolerance and resiliency into its product.

One could now question how Snowflake manages to reach such high availability. So, the Snowflake architecture is made up of three layers, each of which is independent of the others and spread across many data centers to ensure failure tolerance.

Let’s now get more specific and talk about how highly available each of these levels is.

  1. Centralized Storage Layer - All customer data is stored in an encrypted format in Snowflake’s database storage layer.
    All persistent data is kept by Snowflake in the cloud object storage of your preferred cloud provider. Transactions are only finalized after all updated data has been stored in the cloud. In turn, cloud storage replicates the data across numerous devices and at least three availability zones synchronously and automatically. Snowflake is built on the blob stores of the cloud providers, all of which boast durability ratings of at least 11 9s.
  2. Multi-Cluster Compute - The architecture of Snowflake also makes sure that queries succeed despite a variety of errors. The virtual warehouses process the tasks involved in query execution. Within a virtual warehouse, if a single compute instance fails, Snowflake automatically replaces that instance, allowing the query to run uninterruptedly. The data in virtual warehouses is not kept indefinitely. Instead, they use data caching to speed up queries. Since the persistent copy of the data is stored in the cloud object stores, the loss of any number of nodes within a virtual warehouse, including the loss of a complete virtual warehouse, does not result in data loss.
  3. Cloud Services Layer - The cloud services layer is the top layer and is where Snowflake processes requests from connected clients and offers services like security, virtual warehouse management, query optimization, and metadata management. Additionally, this layer is built for resilience, making the Snowflake Data Cloud fault tolerant across a wide range of failure situations. The cloud services layer accounts for the cloud service providers’ physical availability zones. All updates are synchronously committed to numerous instances in various availability zones because it is spread across different virtual compute instances. In the event that one or more of the instances supporting it fail, or even the loss of up to two data centers, the metadata storage system can continue to operate without interruption and without data loss.

One fantastic thing, though, is that Snowflake allows for uninterrupted functioning both during failures and during software updates. This means that, unlike other infrastructure-hosted systems that require downtime for conventional database maintenance tasks, Snowflake customers do not have to invest time or effort in maintaining it.

Customers might eventually need Snowflake to provide better than 99.9% availability for their applications. The following extra features offered by Snowflake can help customers achieve higher availability:

  1. Replication of a database
    • If a cloud area outage hits Snowflake, for instance, customers can copy their data to another Snowflake account in a different region. Additionally, customers can replicate their data across several cloud service providers like GCP, Microsoft Azure, and AWS. Only read-only access is given to duplicated databases.
    • This requires Snowflake Enterprise Edition or a higher version.
    • For instance, this method enables you to direct Snowflake clients to read-only copies of crucial databases first for minimal downtime when an outage in a region causes full or partial loss of Snowflake availability.
  2. Failover/ Failback
    Failover is a backup operational mode in which a secondary component takes over a system component’s functions when the primary component is rendered unavailable due to failure or planned downtime. Mission-critical systems must include failover.
    In snowflake,
    • You can start a failover if a database needs read-write replication by designating a secondary replica database in an available area to serve as the primary database. The database is made writeable when it is promoted. The previous primary database is changed into a secondary, read-only database at the same time.
    • This requires Snowflake Business Critical Edition or a higher version.
    • For instance, we can designate replicas of crucial databases in another area to act as the primary databases during outages, enabling writing to these databases. You can use your ETL processes to organize write and reconcile data after the databases are writable. The databases in the Snowflake account where the outage occurred can now be promoted to once again act as the primary databases once the outage has been fixed.
  3. Client redirect
    • When a failover occurs during an outage, client redirect enables clients to be automatically routed within seconds.
    • Every replica uses the same URL for redirection.

Let’s talk about disaster recovery.

Disaster Recovery

Customer expectations have risen in today’s digital economy. There is very limited tolerance for service-level gaps and transaction delays, so even a brief period of digital outage can result in losses in productivity, sales, and client loyalty. Every firm should have a solid disaster recovery (DR) plan because of this. A disaster recovery plan outlines how and when you’ll recover from an event that unexpectedly makes important apps and data inaccessible. As a result, it gets you ready to return online swiftly, minimizing harm to your company. Snowflake is well-known for being quite accessible. The table that follows demonstrates how it avoids data loss in a variety of failure scenarios.

demand forecast

Currently, Snowflake has two capabilities that are intended exclusively for user error-related disaster recovery. These offer basic hardware or user error correction.

  1. Time Travel
    As the name would suggest, there is a connection to traveling back in time. Thanks to Snowflake Time Travel, historical data—that is, data that has been changed or removed—can be accessed at any time throughout a predetermined duration. It works well for carrying out the following tasks:
    • restoring databases, tables, and other data-related objects that may have been erased unintentionally or on purpose.
    • making copies of and backing up the data from earlier key points.
    • examining the use and manipulation of data over predetermined time frames.
  2. Fail-safe
    In the event of a system malfunction or other unanticipated occurrence, a fail-safe assures that previous data is protected (e.g., from a security breach).
    Snowflake’s fail-safe feature enables it to retrieve past data for a (non-customizable) 7-day span. The time-travel retention period ends, and this period starts at that point. It is not a feature that can be turned on or off by the user, or tested independently. Because it is constantly on, Snowflake can use it to assist in data recovery. The amount of data Fail Safe stores is displayed in the Account view of the GUI’s Fail Safe storage usage.

demand forecast

Bluepi is widely regarded as one of the best snowflake service providers in India. With a team of Snowpro-certified consultants, they provide comprehensive snowflake services and solutions that help businesses harness the power of their data. Bluepi’s expertise in Data Engineering with Snowflake makes them the ideal partner for organizations looking to stay ahead of the curve in today’s data-driven world.

Tanika Jindal
Written by
Tanika Jindal

Associate Technical Lead - Big Data

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