Snowflake Schema

What is Snowflake Schema?

A Snowflake Schema is a type of database schema often used in data warehouses. It is a variation of the star schema, which is the simplest form of a multi-dimensional schema. The snowflake schema enables efficient querying and reporting of large amounts of data while maintaining a highly normalized database structure for improved data integrity. In the context of data lakehouse environments, Snowflake Schema can provide a structured foundation for data storage and analytics.

Functionality and Features

Snowflake Schema is a multidimensional database schema thatstores and organizes information in a way that facilitates reporting and analysis. Key features include:

  • Normalized database structure: Each dimension table (representing a business or data attribute) is in the third-normal form, which reduces data redundancy and helps maintain data integrity.
  • Efficient query performance: The schema enables the use of star join optimization, which can boost performance for large-scale data analytics.
  • Scalability: As data volume grows, the schema can be adjusted to accommodate the changes.


Snowflake Schema consists of a centralized fact table, surrounded by one or more dimension tables. Unlike the star schema, the dimension tables in a snowflake schema are normalized, meaning their attributes have been split into separate tables to avoid redundancy.

Benefits and Use Cases

Some advantages of using a Snowflake Schema are:

  • Reduced data redundancy: Normalized data storage results in lower storage requirements and easier maintenance.
  • Better data integrity: Each dimension table is in third-normal form, ensuring high data consistency.
  • Wide adoption: Snowflake Schema is a popular choice for data warehousing and can seamlessly integrate with various reporting and analytics tools.

Common use cases include:

  • Data warehousing: Serving as the underlying storage architecture for large data warehouses.
  • Analytics and reporting: Supporting complex, large-scale analytical processing and reporting tasks.

Challenges and Limitations

While Snowflake Schema offers several benefits, there are also some drawbacks:

  • Increased query complexity: The normalized structure may make it more difficult to write queries for certain analyses.
  • Potentially slower query performance: Due to larger join operations, query performance can be slower compared to star schema.

Integration with Data Lakehouse

In a data lakehouse environment, Snowflake Schema can be used as a structured storage layer, facilitating efficient analytics on large-scale data. Data lakehouses combine the best of data lakes and data warehouses, providing flexibility and scalability of a data lake while maintaining the performance and reliability of a data warehouse.

Security Aspects

Security measures for Snowflake Schema depend on the specific database management system being used. Features such as encryption, authentication, and authorization should be implemented to protect sensitive data stored within the schema.


Performance in a Snowflake Schema can be impacted by factors such as query complexity, the volume of data, and the database management system being used. Proper indexing and optimization techniques can help reduce query times and improve performance.


What is the main difference between a snowflake schema and a star schema?
The main difference between the two schemas lies in the dimension tables. While star schema dimension tables are denormalized, snowflake schema dimension tables are normalized, meaning their attributes are split into separate tables to avoid redundancy.

Is Snowflake Schema suitable for real-time analytics?
Although Snowflake Schema can be used for real-time analytics, it may not always be the best choice due to the complexity of the queries and potentially slower performance compared to other schemas, such as star schema.

How does Snowflake Schema fit in a data lakehouse environment?
In a data lakehouse environment, Snowflake Schema can serve as a structured storage layer that facilitates efficient analytics on large-scale data. It combines the flexibility and scalability of data lakes with the performance and reliability of data warehouses.

get started

Get Started Free

No time limit - totally free - just the way you like it.

Sign Up Now
demo on demand

See Dremio in Action

Not ready to get started today? See the platform in action.

Watch Demo
talk expert

Talk to an Expert

Not sure where to start? Get your questions answered fast.

Contact Us

Ready to Get Started?

Bring your users closer to the data with organization-wide self-service analytics and lakehouse flexibility, scalability, and performance at a fraction of the cost. Run Dremio anywhere with self-managed software or Dremio Cloud.