This page provides you with instructions on how to extract data from MariaDB and load it into Snowflake. (If this manual process sounds onerous, check out Stitch, which can do all the heavy lifting for you in just a few clicks.)
What is MariaDB?
MariaDB is a binary drop-in compatible version of MySQL that was created by the original developers of MySQL. It's an open source relational DBMS that supports a rich ecosystem of storage engines and plugins.
What is Snowflake?
Snowflake is a cloud-based data warehouse implemented as a managed service. It runs on the Amazon Web Services architecture using EC2 and S3 instances. Snowflake is designed to be fast, flexible, and easy to work with. For instance, for query processing, Snowflake creates virtual warehouses that run on separate compute clusters, so querying one virtual warehouse doesn't slow down the others.
Getting data out of MariaDB
MariaDB provides several methods for extracting data; the one you use may depend upon your needs and skill set.
The most common way to get data out of any database is simply to write queries. SELECT queries allow you to pull the data you want. You can specifying filters and ordering, and limit results.
If you're looking to export data in bulk, there's an easier alternative. MariaDB includes a handy command-line tool called mysqldump that allows you to export entire tables and databases in a format you specify, including delimited text, CSV, or an SQL query that would restore the database if run.
Preparing data for Snowflake
Depending on the structure of your data, you may need to prepare it for loading. Look at the supported data types for Snowflake and make sure that the data you've got will map neatly to them.
Note that you don't need to define a schema in advance when loading JSON data into Snowflake.
Loading data into Snowflake
The Snowflake documentation's Data Loading Overview section can help you with the task of loading your data. If you're not loading a lot of data, you might be able to use the data loading wizard in the Snowflake web UI, but chances are the limitations on that tool will make it a non-starter as a reliable ETL solution. Alternatively, there are two main steps for getting data into Snowflake:
- Use the PUT command to stage files.
- Use the COPY INTO table command to load prepared data into an awaiting table.
You’ll have the option of copying from your local drive or from Amazon S3. One of Snowflake's slick features lets you make a virtual warehouse that can power the insertion process.
Keeping MariaDB data up to date
The script you have now should satisfy all your data needs for MariaDB – right? Not yet. How do you load new or updated data? It's not a good idea to replicate all of your data each time you have updated records. That process would be painfully slow; if latency is important to you, it's not a viable option.
Instead, you can identify some key fields that your script can use to bookmark its progression through the data, and pick up where it left off as it looks for updated data. Auto-incrementing fields such as updated_at or created_at work best for this. When you've built in this functionality, you can set up your script as a cron job or continuous loop to get new data as it appears in MariaDB.
Other data warehouse options
Snowflake is great, but sometimes you need to optimize for different things when you're choosing a data warehouse. Some folks choose to go with Amazon Redshift, Google BigQuery, or PostgreSQL, which are RDBMSes that use similar SQL syntax, or Panoply, which works with Redshift instances. If you're interested in seeing the relevant steps for loading data into one of these platforms, check out To Redshift, To BigQuery, To Postgres, and To Panoply.
Easier and faster alternatives
If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, don’t be alarmed. If you have all the skills necessary to go through this process, chances are building and maintaining a script like this isn’t a very high-leverage use of your time.
Thankfully, products like Stitch were built to solve this problem automatically. With just a few clicks, Stitch starts extracting your MariaDB data via the API, structuring it in a way that is optimized for analysis, and inserting that data into your Snowflake data warehouse.