August 4, 2023

How to Streamline Reader Accounts in Snowflake with the Provision Tool

By Daniel Pierce

Data sharing in the digital era must be fluid, secure, and accessible, even for non-Snowflake Data Cloud customers. However, managing these interactions with precision and efficiency can be a daunting task. That’s where Snowflake’s reader accounts and the Provision tool, a part of the phData Toolkit, step in to offer a streamlined process to optimize data sharing and simplify the management of reader accounts.

In this blog, we’ll explore what reader accounts are, the intricacies of managing them, and how the Provision Tool can help streamline the process. 

What Are Reader Accounts in Snowflake?

Snowflake reader accounts enable you to share data with non-Snowflake customers. 

This flexibility proves extremely useful when you wish to grant data and analytics access without burdening the user with the overhead of maintaining a full-fledged Snowflake account. Additionally, reader accounts offer an advantage in terms of billing centralization for Snowflake usage.

These reader accounts, which are supervised accounts, are tethered to a primary Snowflake account – typically known as the provider account. This arrangement leaves the provider account responsible for bearing the costs associated with data storage linked to the reader account. 

It also covers the compute expenses that arise from queries run within the reader account. This structure maintains simplicity and accountability in managing the operations and costs associated with Snowflake usage.

When using reader accounts, it is especially important that the provider account has a well-defined and maintained information architecture to ensure that data is shared safely, accurately, and consistently. This becomes more important when reader accounts are involved for these reasons: 

  • Sharing data with reader accounts requires additional privilege and role management on the shares in the provider account.

  • Each reader account requires its own information architecture that must be configured with users, roles, grants, warehouses, and databases created from shares. 

  • Because of the added complexity, it can be easy to get these things wrong if you try to manage the information architecture without the proper tools.

How the Provision Tool Helps With Reader Accounts in Snowflake

The Provision tool from the phData Toolkit manages Snowflake resource lifecycles using a templated approach to define a well-structured information architecture. Now, it can manage reader accounts in the provider account and resources in the reader accounts, all in a single step!

With a single execution of the apply command, you can:

  • Create a new reader account in your provider account.

  • Share data with the reader account.

  • Configure the reader account so that users can immediately use the shared data.

  • Manage access to data in both the provider and reader accounts through roles, role grants, and privilege grants.

Example Sharing Data with a Reader Account Using the Provision Tool

Imagine trying to manage additional reader accounts, each with multiple databases and shares. The complexity quickly becomes easier to manage with dedicated tooling. The Provision tool simplifies this process by using templates with repeatable patterns to ensure your data is shared securely, consistently, and quickly.

If you’re interested in exploring a deeper look into reader accounts, dive into our Reader Account Tutorial for managing reader accounts with the Provision tool.


Managing reader accounts doesn’t have to be a daunting task. With the right tools and expert guidance, you can make data sharing as fluid and streamlined as possible.

Establishing an information architecture can be difficult if you do not already have one, or maybe you have one, but it needs to evolve. We have experts at phData who can help you pick the right information architecture, define, apply, and evolve it.

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