May 4, 2023

Why Migrate From Teradata to Snowflake

By Arnab Mondal

This blog was co-written by Arnab Mondal & David Beyer.

In the modern era, data reigns supreme, often regarded as the new oil of this century. To maintain a competitive edge, organizations must not only amass vast quantities of data but also skillfully harness its potential. 

Since the 1980s, various contenders have vied for dominance in the data management arena. However, as technology evolves at a breakneck pace, it’s crucial to reevaluate the most effective data solutions for your organization. 

In this blog, we’ll explore the compelling reasons behind transitioning from Teradata to the cutting-edge Snowflake Data Cloud.

What is Teradata?

Teradata was founded in 1979, and it was a revolutionary DBMS (Database Management System) capable of parallel processing with more than one processor at the same time. The whole concept was to scale horizontally and add more microprocessors to divide and conquer the task. 

To date, the company’s data warehousing solutions are largely built from the same template used in 1979. In short, they are still the model of multiple processors and massive disk storage with data warehouse software on the top layer managing it all. 

Teradata has been preaching the same solution for decades, but the requirements and needs of modern organizations have changed, and technology has advanced a lot since then.

What is Snowflake?

Snowflake was founded in 2012 and is rapidly changing how people think about data warehousing solutions. Snowflake users have access to copious benefits over users of traditional data warehousing solutions, like no limit on the varying data types stored. Multiple users can also access data at the same time, hence improving concurrency without decreasing the performance in any way. 

Additionally, Snowflake has some of the best data security measures in the industry that far exceed the standard government regulations. 

Why Migrate From Teradata To Snowflake? 

There are several key reasons why enterprises migrate to Snowflake from Teradata including cost savings from the pay-as-you-go pricing structure, the robust computing capabilities provided by its cloud-based infrastructure, and significant improvements in performance.

Cost Savings

Snowflake’s pricing structure is particularly advantageous when compared to Teradata. Unlike Teradata, which requires substantial capital investment for acquisition, maintenance, and upgrades, Snowflake only charges for computing and storage. This significantly reduces IT costs for organizations, as Snowflake can be scaled up or down instantly and acts as a single source of truth.

Cloud-Based Computing

While Teradata was once successful at managing and analyzing large data sets, the growing volume, variety, and speed of data now require more advanced data analytics provided by cloud-based solutions. 

For example, Snowflake’s cloud data platform separates storage from computing, allowing for increased compute and storage capacity that would be impossible with Teradata, regardless of whether it’s hosted in the cloud or on-premises. Snowflake achieves this with a shared data architecture.


If you’re considering migrating to Snowflake, it’s essential to recognize the platform’s outstanding performance, simplicity, and concurrency for storing and analyzing data. Snowflake combines the best features of big data platforms, data warehousing, low-cost live sharing, and affordable storage and computing to create a powerful solution for organizations of all sizes.

What Are The Benefits Of Moving To Snowflake?

There are multiple benefits of Snowflake that make it stand apart from others. Listed below are a few standout features we’ve seen our customers utilize.

  • Unmatched Performance: Snowflake has one of the fastest growing, elastic, and almost unlimited scaling properties. This means that no matter how vast your data might be, you will get access to current and also historical data at any moment, helping you make better business decisions and stay ahead of your competitors.
  • Single Source of Truth (SSOT): Snowflake provides almost unlimited concurrency, which means that your organization can maintain a single source of truth or SSOT system to ensure the whole organization is in sync. This will help you to store and extract crucial information from petabytes of structures and semi-structured data in almost real-time.
  • Near-zero Maintenance: Snowflake provides you with the whole architecture on the cloud; hence, you do not need to worry about support or maintenance of the infrastructure, unlike Teradata.
  • Full SQL Functionalities: Snowflake supports SQL functionalities like no other and even supports the “(+)” operator for doing JOINS using WHERE and AND clauses. It is like an ancient relic of Oracle which is not recommended as it is less efficient than JOINS, but for backward compatibility, Snowflake does support it. Still, if you want to transform your SQL code to Snowflake, phData has an internal tool called SQL Translation which can translate Teradata SQL to Snowflake SQL, and you can even use API to convert bulk statements.
  • Cost: Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehouse, which can be more cost-effective than on-premises solutions like Teradata. Snowflake charges based on the amount of data stored and the amount of computation performed rather than upfront licensing fees, making it more affordable for companies with variable or fluctuating data storage and processing needs.
  • Scalability: Snowflake is designed to scale quickly and easily, which can be especially beneficial for companies with rapidly growing data volumes or changing workloads. On the other hand, Teradata may require more upfront infrastructure and planning to scale, which can be more time-consuming and expensive.
  • Integration with other cloud services: Snowflake is a native cloud platform which can be easily integrated with other cloud-based services like Amazon S3, Google BigQuery, and Azure Synapse Analytics. This can make it easier for companies to build a comprehensive, cloud-based data stack.
  • Ease of Use: Snowflake has a user-friendly interface and offers a variety of tools and resources to help users get started quickly. This can be especially appealing for companies new to data warehousing or looking to expand their data capabilities.

Who Would Benefit Most From Moving To Snowflake From Teradata?

If your legacy system has been working okay, you may think that moving to Snowflake is unnecessary. The notes below might just make you more open to making the change as you learn about what you’d be missing out on if you stay with your legacy system.

  • Legacy Platform: If your business currently uses a legacy or on-premise platform, you might need to catch up with the modern needs of performance and concurrency at the same time. While traditional software might be sufficient, it might not be efficient, and that’s where modern platforms come to the rescue. They are up-to-date with the requirements of the business users and their ever-changing needs. They are also a step ahead in concurrency and performance than the legacy ones without burning a hole in your pocket.
  • Cloud: On-premise may have sounded great a few decades back, but now with the cloud’s capabilities and the features it brings to the table, the pros outweigh the cons of not moving into a cloud environment. This migration will also imply a radical shift from traditional IT models to a more on-demand and as-a-service model where you need minimal intervention with the software, allowing you to redistribute this now unnecessary budget and workforce on other parts of your organization.
  • New Data Sources and Faster Upgradation: Perhaps you want to incorporate a new data source into your architecture. Chances are that traditional software might not have it, and you would have to wait for them to release a new version where it is, then upgrade your infrastructure to the latest version manually before you can use it. Snowflake is a step ahead with multiple Native Data Ingestion and external data ingestion methods. It is so robust that you can also ingest any custom data source into Snowflake.
  • Pay As You Use Model: Snowflake has no upfront capital investment or maintenance cost, unlike other traditional software. You pay for storage and computing as you use them. The maintenance and upgrades are applied from the Snowflake side. This helps to lower operational costs, and you could divert the budget to other areas, which will in turn benefit the whole organization.

How Long Does A Migration From Teradata To Snowflake Take?

The migration length depends on multiple factors and the capabilities of the engineers who will be working in the migration team. Another factor is the tools and which migration method is used for the process. It generally lasts from about a month to a year or even more. 

At phData, we not only have some of the most brilliant minds on Snowflake, but our internal phData Toolkit will help speed up the whole process – unlike traditional methods – without any data loss. 

If you’d like to explore a real story of how phData helped migrate a customer from Teradata to Snowflake, check out our case study!

How Much Will A Migration From Teradata To Snowflake Cost?

The overall costs of the migration will depend on your data size and how the migration process will happen. Snowflake Enterprise works differently than other data management systems. You are billed at $2 per Snowflake credit for the compute resource and $23 for every Terabyte of data you want to store on Snowflake. 

You can find more information about the costs here in their documentation section. 


We hope this blog provided some additional details about the many benefits of migrating your organization’s data to a modern data warehouse like Snowflake. From real-time reporting to simplified ease of use, it’s easy to see how Snowflake can truly transform the data culture of an organization. Oh, and let’s not forget those cost savings too!

Need help developing a Snowflake migration plan for your organization? phData has a team of Snowflake experts ready to assist.

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