Top 10 Reasons for Alation with Snowflake & Accelerate Migration to the Data Cloud

By Ibby Rahmani

Published on August 24, 2021

How Alation Helps Accelerate Migration to Snowflake Data Cloud

In the previous blog, we discussed the race to the South Pole of 1911-12, and explored how approach was key. A superior approach helped the Norwegian team reach the South Pole before the English team.

As you consider your journey to the Snowflake Data Cloud, why might a superior approach matter? We discussed how the Alation Data Catalog helps you get to the Snowflake Data Cloud quickly and safely. Finally, we introduced the top 10 reasons to choose the Alation Data Catalog.

In this blog, we will discuss how the Alation Data Catalog helps you accelerate migration to the Snowflake Data Cloud.

Migrate What Matters

One of the biggest challenges with migrating analytics workloads to the cloud is knowing which data matters the most. Lack of clarity around what to move drags out timelines and drives up costs. According to Gartner, “through 2022, more than 50% of data migration initiatives will exceed their budget and timeline — and potentially harm the business — because of flawed strategy and execution.” (1)

Migrating to the Snowflake Data Cloud is no different. To understand the challenges around cloud migration, we need to understand the three key attributes of migration:

  • Visibility

  • Understanding

  • Compliance

3 attributes of cloud migration with Alation

Visibility throughout Migration

To migrate effectively, you need visibility into all your data – including data in legacy sources. This first requires you to have the ability to connect to all the sources: legacy and the Snowflake Data Cloud. Once connected, you need a unified view into the data during and after migration from a single point.

Many organizations have disparate data sources across multiple environments. These are often caused by acquisitions, siloed org structures, and legacy sources. As a result, organizations end up lacking visibility into all their data. So when they migrate, they risk a partial migration that lacks visibility.

Even if you have connectivity into your legacy sources, very often users do not have visibility into all their data during migration. This is because IT admins migrate data in silos. Migration leaders need a single, shared view of all data as it migrates.

Understand What Data to Move

Most migrations do not complete within the required deadlines. A big reason for this is organizations do not understand what data needs to be moved when.

The most critical data assets need to be prioritized for migration first. IT admins should not bother with the data that is stale or unused or just plain wrong. This is easy in theory, but very hard in practice.

Historically, data migration has been a manual process with a lot of guesswork. As this task is mostly driven by IT, more often they fall victim to the traditional approach towards migration. That is, the migration process starts with IT first identifying data sources (which is where the actual migration happens).

This is backwards. Ideally, IT admins need to think about the data first. They need to understand the relative importance of data and move the most critical data first. For example, they might want to move the top 10% of critical data first, and then the next top 10%, and so on.


Finally, organizations need to ensure compliance throughout migration to the Snowflake Data Cloud. Most organizations know what needs to be protected, and they must follow the required policies to ensure that protection. They face a choice: either not to move the data at all, or to move the data and restore the policies in the Snowflake Data Cloud.

In some cases, data has dependencies on other external sources. This could result in certain compliance implications. For example, GDPR localization rules mandate that personal data originating from European countries can not be moved out of the country without that person’s consent. Businesses must take such laws into account before migration and craft an appropriate plan.

Alation Accelerates Migration

Before you migrate, you need access and holistic understanding of all your data. You need visibility into your legacy data sources, and a clear grasp of the interdependencies at play. The Alation Data Catalog grants you that full picture, so you migrate to the Data Cloud with total clarity.

Alation helps you:

  • Gain visibility into all your data, no matter where it resides

  • Identify and move important data

  • Reduce potential risk while migrating data

Gain visibility into all your data, no matter where it resides

Alation provides users a seamless transition to the Snowflake Data Cloud. It provides visibility into all the existing and Snowflake data sources during and after migration. Alation provides a unified view of data throughout migration by connecting to legacy and Snowflake data sources — giving you consistent visibility throughout migration and beyond.

Using Alation, IT admins can also notify their users as migration is occurring. IT admins gain intelligence to guide users, pointing them to vetted and trusted sources inside the Snowflake Data Cloud and stopping them from using deprecated or outdated data.

Identifying & Moving Important Data

Alation helps IT admins complete migration projects within the required deadlines by delivering a full picture of an organization’s data landscape. Alation delivers insights derived from usage patterns, like which data is most actively used, how it is used, and what data assets might be related and relevant. This knowledge ensures that you only migrate what matters: that which is useful and relevant to your organization.

alation cloud curation and migration process

This full-picture view enables organizations to be strategic. IT admins can prioritize their efforts, moving only the necessary data and recursively repeating the process. The result: organizations can realize the benefits of the Snowflake Data Cloud quickly.

Reduce Potential Risk while Migrating to Snowflake

Alation helps you move data to the Snowflake Data Cloud while maintaining compliance. Alation accelerates the discovery and classification of sensitive data to help you meet evolving PII, HIPAA, GDPR or CCPA compliance requirements.

alation data lineage tools

The data catalog grants IT admins all lineage information about the data. In Alation, core lineage within each data source is automatically captured. This helps them identify whether they can move data – while meeting compliance localization rules. The result: You migrate to the cloud with total confidence.

As you journey to the Snowflake Data Cloud, Alation applies intelligence throughout migration. Visibility into all your data ensures a big-picture view and seamless experience. With a complete understanding of the data, IT is empowered to move the most important data. And finally, they are able reduce potential risk while migrating data.

In the next blog of this 4-part series, I will discuss how Alation provides a unified platform for data scientists and analysts to speed their projects and analysis.

Sources: (1) Gartner, “Make Data Migration Boring: 10 Steps to Ensure On-Time, High-Quality Delivery” by Ted Friedman, December 13, 2019.

  • Migrate What Matters
  • Visibility throughout Migration
  • Understand What Data to Move
  • Compliance
  • Alation Accelerates Migration
  • Gain visibility into all your data, no matter where it resides
  • Identifying & Moving Important Data
  • Reduce Potential Risk while Migrating to Snowflake
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