Snowflake Horizon for Data Governance: Here's Everything We Know So Far

Updated May 01st, 2024

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Snowflake Horizon consolidates and extends data governance capabilities for your Snowflake assets. This article will look into the core capabilities of Snowflake Horizon and address some of the most commonly asked questions on the subject.

Table of contents

  1. What is Snowflake Horizon?
  2. How does Snowflake Horizon handle data governance?
  3. How does Atlan support the data governance capabilities offered by Snowflake Horizon?
  4. What’s next for Snowflake Horizon?
  5. Snowflake Horizon: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
  6. Related Reads

What is Snowflake Horizon?

Snowflake Horizon is Snowflake’s built-in governance solution, offering numerous features for better compliance, security, privacy, interoperability, and access in the Data Cloud.

Snowflake Horizon makes it easy for customers to govern and take immediate action on data, apps, and more across clouds, teams, partners, and customers.

Snowflake is expanding its existing data governance capabilities through Snowflake Horizon.

Snowflake Horizon for governing your assets in the Data Cloud

Snowflake Horizon for governing your assets in the Data Cloud - Source: Snowflake.

Here’s how Christian Kleinerman, Senior VP of Product at Snowflake, described Snowflake Horizon at Snowday 2023:

Snowflake Horizon is how we bring these governance technologies under a single umbrella… we want to enable your organization to know and manage your data across regions and clouds through a single experience.”

How does Snowflake Horizon handle data governance?

Snowflake Horizon’s functionalities fall under five core capabilities:

  1. Compliance
  2. Security
  3. Privacy
  4. Interoperability
  5. Access

With that said, let’s look at what’s available under each capability.

1. Compliance

Compliance serves to help you protect and audit your data, monitor data quality and lineage, and ensure business continuity. Specifically, you can:

  • Audit data history with Access History (reads), Listing Access History, and Schema Change Tracking
  • Understand object dependencies
  • Monitor account replication, failover, etc.

Other aspects of compliance that Snowflake is currently working on include:

  • Data Quality Monitoring (in private preview) to track and record data quality metrics
  • Data Lineage UI (in private preview) to visualize upstream and downstream lineage for your data assets at a table and column level
  • Pipeline Replication and Replication UI (both are in private preview)

2. Security

The goal of security offerings in Snowflake Horizon is to help you safeguard your data and continuously monitor for risks. Here’s what you can do:

  • Use built-in capabilities (authentication, encryption, network policies, etc.) to secure your data
  • Use various types of authorization (RBAC, Tag-Based Masking, Dynamic Data Masking, etc.) to enforce granular security controls across clouds

Other aspects of security that Snowflake is currently working on include Trust Center (in private preview soon). Trust Center will help you continuously evaluate and monitor your data estate on Snowflake for security risks.

3. Privacy

Snowflake Horizon’s advanced privacy policies and data clean rooms will help manage and protect sensitive data while allowing data teams to harness its potential.

Some privacy features available in private preview include:

  • Identifying and tagging PII and other sensitive data with Custom Data Classifiers
  • Protecting sensitive data while retaining analytical value with Aggregation, Projection, and Differential Privacy Policies
  • Collaborating on sensitive data with multiple teams inside and outside your organization with Snowflake Native Data Clean Rooms (DCRs)

You can also configure settings (limiting user access by role, restricting queries, etc.) that control how your data gets accessed and processed.

According to Senior Partner Sales Engineer Ravi Kumar, Data Clean Rooms (DCRs) are secure environments that enable multiple organizations (or divisions of an organization) to bring data together for joint analysis under the governed and defined guidelines and restrictions that keep the data secure.

4. Interoperability

The core tenet of interoperability is to support integrations with other Apache Iceberg-compatible catalogs and engines, data catalogs, and data governance solutions.

Snowflake Horizon offers pre-built integrations by leading data catalog and data governance partners (like Atlan, for instance) to help customers better manage their entire data estate.

Senior Partner Sales Engineer Ravi Kumar explains how interoperability works for data stored in Iceberg:

Iceberg Tables can now be configured to use either Snowflake or an external service like AWS Glue as the catalog to track metadata. This is made possible by a new account-level object called a Catalog Integration (in public preview), which allows Snowflake to securely read metadata from AWS Glue and object stores.”

5. Access

The access-specific capabilities in Snowflake Horizon will help you classify, share, discover, and immediately act on data, apps, etc. across regions and clouds.

Some features that are already available include Object Explorer (for discovery), Object Tagging (for tagging and classification), direct data and app sharing capabilities with Snowflake Native Apps, etc.

Other aspects that are in private preview include:

  • Universal Search, an LLM-powered search tool, to discover and access relevant data and apps across your Snowflake account
  • Custom classifiers
  • Snowflake Copilot, which is natural language powered by LLMs, to interact with and query data

How does Atlan support the data governance capabilities offered by Snowflake Horizon?

As part of the Snowflake Horizon Partner Ecosystem, Atlan supports and extends these capabilities with a pre-built integration to the Snowflake Data Cloud.

For instance, Atlan uses the Snowflake metadata to provide better context about your data assets.

Other governance capabilities that Atlan supports and extends include:

  • Building a single home for compliance with bi-directional sync of Snowflake Object Tags between Atlan and Snowflake — if you tag assets on Atlan, their status on Snowflake gets automatically updated
  • Driving data adoption with Atlan’s Chrome extension that sits on top of tools like Snowflake, Power BI, Looker, etc. — get all the context you need in one place
  • Maximizing your Snowflake investment by surfacing Account Usage and Information Schema views in Atlan — understand asset usage, queries, etc.
  • Accelerating root cause and impact analysis with column-level, automated, and actionable data lineage

“Atlan’s open API-based approach, pay as you go model & delightful user experience  aligns well with Snowflake’s own ethos, and what customers are demanding from their tools.” Tarik Dwiek, Head of Global Technology Partnerships, Snowflake

Read more → Snowflake data governance with Atlan

What’s next for Snowflake Horizon?

Snowflake Horizon is a consolidation of existing data governance capabilities in Snowflake, along with additional features addressing compliance, security, privacy, interoperability, and access.

As Horizon continues to evolve, Snowflake customers can better manage their data assets. For instance, Snowflake is rolling out authentication enhancements in public preview, such as support for implementing federated authentication using multiple identity providers.

The goal is to help in customizing login experience for different users, support multiple identity providers, and define authentication controls for various user roles.

Besides the in-built capabilities of Snowflake Horizon, you can explore the synergies between Snowflake Horizon and leading partners (such as Atlan) to maximize the data governance capabilities of your data ecosystem.

Snowflake Horizon: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Let’s look at some of the most common questions people have about Snowflake Horizon.

1. What is the purpose of Snowflake Horizon?

Snowflake Horizon is a single solution to support data governance efforts for Snowflake data assets. The purpose is to help you manage your increasingly complex data ecosystem more effectively.

In recent years, Snowflake has been focusing on account governance capabilities with features, such as object tagging, column-level security, tag-based masking, cost management, etc.

Horizon consolidates these features and extends Snowflake’s governance capabilities further, under five core pillars — compliance, security, privacy, interoperability, and access.

2. Who is it for? Who can use Snowflake Horizon?

Snowflake Horizon supports governance activities for all kinds of data professionals, such as Data Engineers, Quality Analysts, and Data Stewards.

3. What are the capabilities of Snowflake Horizon?

As mentioned earlier, Snowflake Horizon supports various features under five essential capabilities — compliance, security, privacy, interoperability, and access.

The features include audit histories, granular access policies, data quality and lineage monitoring, and more. Several features — custom classifiers, universal search, Trust Center — are still under Private Preview and will be generally available soon.

4. Is Snowflake Horizon part of Snowflake Data Cloud?

Snowflake Horizon is a part of Snowflake’s platform, just like other offerings (Snowgrid, Snowpark, etc.)

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