Building a Better Data Warehouse Solution with Informatica and Snowflake Data Cloud

Last Published: Sep 12, 2023 |
Hemalatha Narendra Babu
Hemalatha Narendra Babu

Principal Product Manager

Organizations are moving their data to the cloud in droves. The benefits of successful cloud data transformation (such as agility, cost-effectiveness and scalability) are well-known and well-established. But how to fuel advanced analytics and empower teams with trusted, AI-ready data? One way is to build a modern data warehousing solution with Snowflake Data Cloud and Informatica.

Because data evolves over time, a data warehousing solution must provide a way to maintain historical records to ensure accurate analysis. Slowly changing dimensions (SCDs) can play a crucial role in data warehousing by tracking changes in data over time. Some examples of typical slowly changing dimensions are entities such as names of geographical locations, customers or products. SCDs offer a robust framework to handle these changes effectively and efficiently. Informatica capabilities enable businesses to load SCD tables on the Snowflake Data Cloud through extract, load, transform (ELT) pipelines.

Understanding the Different Types of Slowly Changing Dimensions

Let's briefly explore some different types of SCDs.

SCD Type 1 is the simplest form, where the historical data is not preserved. Any update to a record overwrites the existing values. This type is suitable when historical data is not significant for analysis.

SCD Type 2 maintains a complete change history by creating new records with effective dates. This enables tracking changes over time and analysis of data in different states.

SCD Type 3 retains limited historical data by creating additional columns to store the previous and current values. While it provides some historical context, it cannot maintain a complete history of changes.

Exploring SCD Type 2 in Detail

SCD Type 2 is an effective way to track changes in data. Rather than replacing existing records, it creates new ones each time a change occurs. Each record includes an effective start and end date, allowing a complete history of changes to be maintained. This provides a robust solution for data tracking.

This type helps maintain historical accuracy for reporting and analysis. By keeping a complete history of changes, businesses can gain valuable insights into trends, anomalies and performance.

When implementing SCD Type 2, carefully considering the data model and business requirements is essential. This involves creating additional columns to indicate the active version of the data and maintaining referential integrity with related tables.

Why Use Informatica to Build SCD Type 2 ELT Pipelines for Snowflake?

Informatica Cloud Data Integration, a service within the Informatica Intelligent Data Management Cloud (IDMC), offers support for ETL and ELT within Snowflake Data Cloud. Informatica allows users to select the most suitable approach based on their specific use cases and requirements. There are several advantages to designing SCD-type mappings with Informatica.

  1. Ease of Implementation: Informatica provides a user-friendly interface and templates for building SCD-type mapping tasks.  
  2. Templates

    Figure 1. Templates simplify the process of building SCD mapping tasks.

  3. Flexible Strategy: Informatica supports both ELT and ETL on Snowflake Data Cloud. Its ELT capability is designed for complex data movement between different Snowflake operations or from a cloud data lake to Snowflake.
  4. Improves Performance and Reduces Cost: Informatica ELT helps process data in the Snowflake Data Cloud, which can improve processing speed and lower operating costs.

Implementing SCD Type 2 Mapping in Informatica Cloud Data Integration

For SCD Type 2 mapping in Informatica Cloud Data Integration, determine if the incoming record is new or already present. If new, it will be added to the target table. An active version with updated data is added for existing records, while the old one is marked inactive. No changes occur if the existing record is the same as the incoming data.

Figure 2. An example of a typical approach to mapping SCD Type 2 with Informatica Cloud Data Integration.

Embracing Informatica's data management capabilities and Snowflake's high-performance platform enables efficient ELT pipelines for SCD tables. This allows teams to handle vast amounts of data while maintaining accurate historical records.

With Informatica's user-friendly interface and Snowflake's flexible scalability, creating ELT data pipelines and adjusting to changing data needs has never been easier. The smooth integration of these advanced technologies enables businesses to gain valuable data insights, make well-informed decisions and fully leverage the potential of their data assets.

Next Steps

Build your data management process with Informatica and Snowflake and propel your organization toward data-driven success today. You can learn more about Informatica and Snowflake on our partner page.

First Published: Sep 07, 2023