Getting Access to the Snowflake Analytics Platform: An IAQ Guide

Welcome to the IAQ (Infrequently Asked Questions) guide to getting access to Snowflake:

Q: What is Snowflake?

A: Snowflake is the new analytics platform for Northeastern University.  ITS-Business Intelligence has been working with different groups at Northeastern to bring their data into the environment so that data scientists, data engineers, and data analysts can create new models and experiment with ways to analyze and visualize data that supports the objectives of the University.

Q:  Is this like Argos and Cognos, where specific tools are used to access the data?

A:  No.  Argos and Cognos are reporting tools connected to the Operational Data Store (ODS) and Enterprise Data Warehouse (EDW), respectively.  Snowflake is a data platform and users are encouraged to “bring their own tools”, meaning that applications like Tableau, Toad, or SQL Developer can be used to query and view the data.  Data in Snowflake is also presented in Tableau Dashboards that can be viewed by users with the appropriate access.

Q:  Glad you mentioned access.  How do I get it? Is it hard?

A:  First, let’s keep it to one question per line from now on.  Second, no, not really.  The Data Administration (DA) team has created an interim process to allow users to request direct access to the subject areas that are in production in Snowflake and to Tableau Dashboards that are sourced from Snowflake.  If you scroll to the bottom of the Cognos/Argos Request Form on the DA Sharepoint site, you’ll find instructions for using the form to request access.  The request is reviewed by the Data Custodians for the selected subject areas and the administrators for Snowflake and/or the Tableau site will send you login instructions.

Q: You mentioned an “interim” process.  Is there a more permanent solution in the works?

A:  Yes.  The DA team has been working with ITS-Business Intelligence, HR, and ITS-EADS to develop a modified workflow to be added to the existing Argos/Cognos request process.  The new process, which complies with the University’s  Policy on Data Access, has been reviewed with stakeholders across the university and should be implemented by this fall.  Working with the Data Custodians that have a presence in Snowflake, the team has created a new process that relies on a user’s division and job title to determine whether access can be granted immediately or whether a Data Custodian needs to review the request in more detail.

Q:  One last question:  Why did you choose the FAQ (or IAQ) format for this article?

A:  It’s always easier to answer questions when you’re the one asking them.