Data Warehouse vs. Data Lake (vs. Data Mart): A Complete Analysis (2023)

Data Warehouse vs. Data Lake (vs. Data Mart): A Complete Analysis (1)

Big data analytics help companies use data to explore new and improvement opportunities. Regardless of which cloud data platform you choose, there are two data storage technologies you should understand.

Data warehouses and data lakes are the two predominant data solutions commonly used to define how an organization stores, queries, analyzes and reports big data.

This post defines what a data warehouse and data lake are, how they work, and the differences. In the end, you will have enough information to decide which data solution to use for your big data strategy.


  • What are the different types of data?
  • What is a database?
  • What is a data lake?
  • What is a data warehouse?
  • What are data marts?
  • The similarities and differences between data lakes and data warehouses
  • Will data lakes replace data warehouses?
  • When should you use a data lake or data warehouse?

What are the different types of data?

You'll likely only deal with four types of data, whether you're a data scientist or a CTO; structured, semi-structured, unstructured and metadata.

1. Structured data

Structured data refers to data stored in a standardized format such as B. rows and columns for ease of understanding. You can store, retrieve and analyze them for this purpose.

Examples of structured data are SQL databases and Excel files.

2. Unstructured data

Unstructured data is also not organized and does not work within a defined data model. As a result, the data cannot be used immediately unless you interfere with it for a specific reason.

Examples of unstructured data are No-SQL databases, audio, video, PDF documents and images.

3. Semi-structured data

Semi-structured data is not just a combination of modeled and unmodeled data. In contrast, it's the data type that doesn't follow most data structures, but uses tags or placeholders to define elements, fields, and records within itself.

XML and JSON are two examples of semi-structured data.

(Video) Data Mart vs Database vs Data Warehouse vs Data Lake Explained

ONEmore and more toolscan help your organization query semi-structured data like Snowflake.

CloudZero DealsSnowflake cost intelligenceThis allows you to understand your costs across all levels of querying semi-structured data.


Metadata is the type of data that describes other specific data. Sounds confusing?

Remember to record a video with your smartphone camera. The phone saves the footage with additional information that is usually easy to understand, such as: B. date, time, and sometimes location. These details are examples of metadata.

To understand how data warehousing and data lakes work, you must first explain how a database works.

What is a database?

A database is an electronic repository of structured data from a single source where you can store, retrieve, and query it for a specific purpose. There are proprietary and open source databases, many of which are relational. Relational databases get their name from the requirement for schemas.

Schemas are a framework for structuring data to recognize and interpret patterns in that data. In other words, relational databases are designed to work with structured data from a single source — not raw data that varies in structure, format, and sources.

What is a data lake?

ONEDatenseeis a large repository containing structured, semi-structured and unstructured data from various sources. A data lake also contains raw data and information (processed data). It really is a lake of data where all kinds of streams (types of data) converge.

However, data lakes are differentdata swamps.

A data swamp is a huge repository with little or no structure, making it useless or of little use to data professionals.

What data do you store in a data lake?

A data lake is particularly useful for storing all types of data, whether you want to analyze and report on all or part of it now or in the future. Data lakes are also an excellent breeding ground for big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning programs.

However, it can be difficult to gain insights from data lakes for day-to-day business needs unless you are a data geek. This is where other types of standardized data storage options come in.

What are the best data lake tools?

Here are some of the best data lake solutions available today.

(Video) Database vs Data Warehouse vs Data Lake | What is the Difference?

1. Amazon Web Services-Data Lake

A highlight of the data lake on AWS is that it is easier to manage than most alternatives. This oneAWS Lake Formation-Servicemakes setting up a secure data lake easily accessible.

Data Warehouse vs. Data Lake (vs. Data Mart): A Complete Analysis (2)


Another advantage is the integration of other AWS solutions such as B. Machine Learning ServicesAmazon Redshiftand Amazon EMR (for Apache Spark) with an Amazon S3 data lake that promotes convenience, data security, and centralization benefits.

2. Microsoft Azure Data Lake-Speicher

Another big player, the big advantage of Azure is its ability to scale to handle the most demanding workloads while maintaining peak performance. This oneAzure Data Lake StorageThe option is also suitable because of its compatibility with many other query and data storage frameworks.

3. Intelligent Data Lake from Informatica

This data lake tool is ideal when you want to get more value out of a Hadoop-based data lake. The underlying architecture of Hadoop means you don't have to code a lot to query colossal amounts of data. Still, it supports other data tools like Amazon Aurora, Microsoft Azure SQL Database, AWS Redshift and Microsoft SQL Data Warehouse.

Other Data Lake solutions to check out, including the Open Data Lake solution,you rot🇧🇷 There is also the infinitely scrollable Data Lake with a relational layer,information data lake.

What is a data warehouse?

A data warehouse is a relational database that can process, store, and bring structured datasets from multiple sources into one place. Data warehousing supports business decision making by analyzing various data sources and reporting them in an informative format.

Think of the different data sources as the different departments in your company that keep data organized in one place. The aim is usually to provide practical information about the various activities of an organization.

Unlike a primary database, a data warehouse can handle exabytes of data, typically starting with a terabyte of capacity.

Many organizations prefer to make large amounts of data accessible to employees using another subset of datasets known as data marts.

What are the best data warehouse solutions?

Snowflake and Amazon Redshiftare some common data storage tools. Other leading providers of cloud data storage solutions include Google BigQuery, Teradata Vantage, Oracle Autonomous Warehouse, Vertica, Microsoft Azure Synapse, Yellowbrick Data and IBM Db2 Warehouse.

Still, some modern data solutions use aData Lake Architecturewhich can also function as a data warehouse solution.

(Video) Data Warehouse vs Data Lake vs Data Mart. Easy to understand

See Snowflake, for example.

Your organization can use Snowflake as a data lake to leverage a highly scalable, cost-effective repository for all types and sources of data with ready-to-run insights from data warehouse and cloud storage. All in one place.

Alternatively, you can have a separate data lake and just use Snowflake as a data warehouse solution to analyze and transform your operational data.

Data Warehouse vs. Data Lake (vs. Data Mart): A Complete Analysis (3)

What are data marts?

Data marts are databases that contain a finite amount of data structured for a specific purpose in a single line of business.

Here's an example. A data mart can be a database of organized data for your sales and marketing department that does not exceed 100 gigabytes (GB).

The data in a mart usually comes from a data warehouse, making marts largely considered a subset of data warehouses.

Comparing the similarities and differences between data lakes and data warehouses

Some similarities between data lakes and data warehouses include:

  • Both store large amounts of data for analysis and business intelligence derivation.
  • Both store current and historical data.

But these two have more differences than similarities.

The main difference is that while data lakes contain all types of data, whether processed or not, data warehouses only contain structured data. Data lakes also keep data in a flat architecture rather than a structured database environment in a data warehouse.

Data storagefocuses on transforming raw data into information that companies can use to make decisions.

Warehouse data is at the heart of business intelligence, which relies on data analysis and reporting techniques to gain meaningful insights from operational data.

Instead, data lakes are at the heart of big data, AI, and ML applications for the massive amounts of data they contain from multiple sources.

(Video) Data Lake VS Data Warehouse VS Data Marts | CodeLearnX

When should you use a data lake or data warehouse?

Data lakes are not as accessible to employees as they are to data scientists. One reason is that traditional data processors don't present the data a lake contains in a way that most people can understand.

However, data in lakes does not require as many computing resources as organizing data in the warehouse. This gives data professionals easy access to data lakes. It also makes data lakes more cost-effective for storing large amounts of data than data warehouses.

Data scientists can also decide when and how to model data collected from a lake. This allows them to prioritize which data is analyzed first to save costs. They can also collect data as they come up with new data modeling ideas.

Will data lakes replace data warehouses?

If your organization produces mountains of data that you don't immediately need to turn into insights, a data lake might be a good fit.

But you would still need to translate that raw data into valuable, understandable information to take the guesswork out of your decision making. This is where data storage comes in.

While data lakes are the most scalable in terms of data storage capacity, a modern data warehouse can handle incredible amounts of data ready to be turned into business intelligence when needed.

Data lake and data warehousing are not direct competitors. They are not designed as alternatives. They complement each other. Data lakes power data warehouses and vice versa.

This means that you should consider choosing the best data lake solution along with a state-of-the-art data warehouse solution.

Architecture for cost-optimized data storage

The main difference between a data warehouse and a data lake is that the former is a macro-scale repository for various data types and structures whereas the latter contains colossal and organized data in a structured database environment.

Data lakes are ideal for organizations that have data experts who can perform data mining and analysis. In addition, they are suitable for companies that want to automate the recognition of patterns in their data using big data technologies such as machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Data lakes also help preserve large-scale data that doesn't need to be transformed immediately or doesn't have the capabilities for immediate analysis. Think of a data lake as a scalable online archive. On the other hand, a data warehouse makes spotting patterns in your operations so easy that anyone familiar with the subject can see what that means.

However, processing raw data to this point requires a significant investment, from the right skills and experience to a deep understanding of the best use cases for each data storage technology.

For this reason, powerful engineering teams are assembledCloudZero🇧🇷 CloudZero helps combine data from AWS and Snowflake into comprehensive cost information that you can use to analyze, monitor, and optimize your cloud spending. With a holistic view of your costs across AWS and Snowflake, your engineering teams can make informed decisions to better optimize your product or resources for profitability.

(Video) The difference between Databases, Data Lakes, Data Warehouses, and Data Marts

Learn more about our Snowflake Cost Intelligence hereand how it can help your team get a more comprehensive view of your cloud costs.Data Warehouse vs. Data Lake (vs. Data Mart): A Complete Analysis (4)to see it in action!


What is the difference between data mart and data warehouse and data lake? ›

A data mart is essentially a set of dashboards that analyze data from a subset of a data warehouse or lake for a particular business function. That is, a data mart combines a part of a data warehouse or lake, curated for a team or an analytical domain, with the dashboards and visualizations that analyze that data.

Is data mart and data warehouse same? ›

A data mart is similar to a data warehouse, but it holds data only for a specific department or line of business, such as sales, finance, or human resources. A data warehouse can feed data to a data mart, or a data mart can feed a data warehouse.

What are the primary differences between a data warehouse and data mart? ›

Size:a data mart is typically less than 100 GB; a data warehouse is typically larger than 100 GB and often a terabyte or more. Range: a data mart is limited to a single focus for one line of business; a data warehouse is typically enterprise-wide and ranges across multiple areas.

What are 2 advantages of data mart compared to data warehouse? ›

Data marts typically cost far less to set up than establishing a full data warehouse. Easier implementation & maintenance. Unlike data warehouses, which require integration with a wide variety of internal and external data sources, data marts only contain data essential to the particular business unit or department.

What are the three types of data mart? ›

Three basic types of data marts are dependent, independent, and hybrid.

What are the three types of data warehousing? ›

The three main types of data warehouses are enterprise data warehouse (EDW), operational data store (ODS), and data mart.

What is data mart in ETL? ›

Data marts use ETL to retrieve information from external sources when it does not come from a data warehouse. The process involves the following steps. Extract: collect raw information from various sources. Transform: structure the information into a common format. Load: transfer the processed data to the database.

Is data mart a OLAP? ›

A database is a transactional data repository (OLTP). A data mart is an analytical data repository (OLAP).

Is Snowflake a data mart? ›

Snowflake serves multiple purposes: data lake, data mart, data warehouse, ODS and database.

Can you have a data mart without a data warehouse? ›

An independent data mart is a stand-alone system—created without the use of a data warehouse—that focuses on one subject area or business function.

How many types of ETL tools are there? ›

Types of ETL Tools. ETL tools can be grouped into four categories based on their infrastructure and supporting organization or vendor. These categories — enterprise-grade, open-source, cloud-based, and custom ETL tools — are defined below.

What is the purpose of data mart? ›

A data mart is a subset of a data warehouse focused on a particular line of business, department, or subject area. Data marts make specific data available to a defined group of users, which allows those users to quickly access critical insights without wasting time searching through an entire data warehouse.

What are the disadvantages of data mart? ›

Disadvantages of Data Mart:

Since it stores the data related only to specific function, so does not store huge volume of data related to each and every department of an organization like datawarehouse. Creating too many data marts becomes cumbersome sometimes.

What are the three advantages of using a data warehouse? ›

Data warehouse benefits

Provide a stable, centralized repository for large amounts of historical data. Improve business processes and decision-making with actionable insights. Increase a business's overall return on investment (ROI)

What is a data lake? ›

A data lake is a centralized repository designed to store, process, and secure large amounts of structured, semistructured, and unstructured data. It can store data in its native format and process any variety of it, ignoring size limits.

What is an example of a data lake? ›

There is a gradual academic interest in the concept of data lakes. For example, Personal DataLake at Cardiff University is a new type of data lake which aims at managing big data of individual users by providing a single point of collecting, organizing, and sharing personal data.

What is data mart example? ›

Think of a large retail organization. Data marts might exist for the major lines of business, but other marts could be designed for specific products. Examples include seasonal products, lawn and garden, or toys.

What are the 3 tiers in data warehousing architecture? ›

Data Warehouses usually have a three-level (tier) architecture that includes: Bottom Tier (Data Warehouse Server) Middle Tier (OLAP Server) Top Tier (Front end Tools).

What are the 5 components of data warehouse? ›

What are the key components of a data warehouse? A typical data warehouse has four main components: a central database, ETL (extract, transform, load) tools, metadata, and access tools. All of these components are engineered for speed so that you can get results quickly and analyze data on the fly.

What are the 4 basic functions in a warehouse? ›

Regardless of the product, every warehouse moves things, stores them, keeps track of them, and sends them out. Those four functions result in our four essential categories of equipment: storage, material handling, packing and shipping, and barcode equipment.

What is OLAP in data warehousing? ›

OLAP (for online analytical processing) is software for performing multidimensional analysis at high speeds on large volumes of data from a data warehouse, data mart, or some other unified, centralized data store.

What is data mart in SQL? ›

Datamarts are a fully managed database that enables you to store and explore your data in a relational and fully managed Azure SQL DB. Datamarts provide SQL support, a no-code visual query designer, Row Level Security (RLS), and auto-generation of a dataset for each datamart.

Is a data mart a schema? ›

Data marts are structured in a multidimensional schema that works as a blueprint for data analysis by users of the database. The three main structures or schema for data marts are star, snowflake, and vault.

Is SQL an OLAP? ›

SQL Server Analysis Services (SSAS) offers OLAP and data mining functionality for business intelligence applications.

Is data lake OLTP or OLAP? ›

Both data warehouses and data lakes are meant to support Online Analytical Processing (OLAP).

Are data marts read only? ›

While transactional databases are designed to be updated, data warehouses or marts are read only.

Is Snowflake a data warehouse or lake? ›

Snowflake Has Always Been a Hybrid of Data Warehouse and Data Lake. There's a great deal of controversy in the industry these days around data lakes versus data warehouses. For many years, a data warehouse was the only game in town for enterprises to process their data and get insight from it.

Is Snowflake a ETL tool? ›

Snowflake supports both ETL and ELT and works with a wide range of data integration tools, including Informatica, Talend, Tableau, Matillion and others.

Does Amazon use Snowflake? ›

Snowflake is an AWS Partner offering software solutions and has achieved Data Analytics, Machine Learning, and Retail Competencies.

Why do data warehouses fail? ›

Data warehouse projects fail when they are treated as purely technology projects and aren't focused on the end users and delivering value.

Do banks use data warehouse? ›

With a data warehouse, you can keep data securely locked up and still provide useful information to those who need to report on it. Banks opt to implement a data warehouse because it creates a copy of the data. You can provide that copy to any banking professional for analysis while keeping the original dataset safe.

Is data warehouse still a thing? ›

Yes, learning data warehousing is still relevant today because of its capability to integrate data, it is easy to use and because thousands of companies throughout the world have data warehouses.

What are the 3 layers in ETL? ›

ETL stands for Extract, Transform, and Load.

Is SQL an ETL tool? ›

In the first stage of the ETL workflow, extraction often entails database management systems, metric sources, and even simple storage means like spreadsheets. SQL commands can also facilitate this part of ETL as they fetch data from different tables or even separate databases.

Is IBM is a ETL tool? ›

IBM® DataStage® is an industry-leading data integration tool that helps you design, develop and run jobs that move and transform data. At its core, the DataStage tool supports extract, transform and load (ETL) and extract, load and transform (ELT) patterns.

What is advantage of data mart? ›

Advantages of using a data mart:

Improves end-user response time by allowing users to have access to the specific type of data they need. A condensed and more focused version of a data warehouse. Each is dedicated to a specific unit or function. Lower cost than implementing a full data warehouse.

What are data lake benefits? ›

Data Lakes allow you to store relational data like operational databases and data from line of business applications, and non-relational data like mobile apps, IoT devices, and social media. They also give you the ability to understand what data is in the lake through crawling, cataloging, and indexing of data.

Who are the users of data mart? ›

A Data Mart is a condensed version of Data Warehouse and is designed for use by a specific department, unit or set of users in an organization. E.g., Marketing, Sales, HR or finance. It is often controlled by a single department in an organization.

What is difference between data lake and ETL? ›

Data Lake defines the schema after data is stored, whereas Data Warehouse defines the schema before data is stored. Data Lake uses the ELT(Extract Load Transform) process, while the Data Warehouse uses ETL(Extract Transform Load) process.

What is the difference between data lake and database? ›

What is the difference between a database and a data lake? A database stores the current data required to power an application. A data lake stores current and historical data for one or more systems in its raw form for the purpose of analyzing the data.

What are the 4 stages of data processing? ›

It is usually performed in a step-by-step process by a team of data scientists and data engineers in an organization. The raw data is collected, filtered, sorted, processed, analyzed, stored, and then presented in a readable format.

Do data lakes use SQL? ›

SQL is being used for analysis and transformation of large volumes of data in data lakes. With greater data volumes, the push is toward newer technologies and paradigm changes.

What is data lake vs S3? ›

Central storage: Amazon S3 as the data lake storage platform. A data lake built on AWS uses Amazon S3 as its primary storage platform. Amazon S3 provides an optimal foundation for a data lake because of its virtually unlimited scalability and high durability.

Is Hadoop a data lake or data warehouse? ›

A Hadoop data lake is a data management platform comprising one or more Hadoop clusters. It is used principally to process and store nonrelational data, such as log files, internet clickstream records, sensor data, JSON objects, images and social media posts.

Is Snowflake an ETL tool? ›

Snowflake supports both ETL and ELT and works with a wide range of data integration tools, including Informatica, Talend, Tableau, Matillion and others.

Is Azure storage a data lake? ›

Azure Data Lake Storage Gen1 is an enterprise-wide hyper-scale repository for big data analytic workloads. Azure Data Lake enables you to capture data of any size, type, and ingestion speed in one single place for operational and exploratory analytics.

Is Google a data lake? ›

Google Cloud's data lake powers any analysis on any type of data. This empowers your teams to securely and cost-effectively ingest, store, and analyze large volumes of diverse, full-fidelity data.

What is data lake in ETL? ›

A data lake is a centralized repository that allows you to store all your structured and unstructured data at any scale.

Can data lake replace data warehouse? ›

A data lake is not a direct replacement for a data warehouse; they are supplemental technologies that serve different use cases with some overlap. Most organizations that have a data lake will also have a data warehouse.

What are the disadvantages of data lake? ›

Data lakes can devolve into data swamps with poor data integrity and security issues.
  • Complexity: Data lakes involve such large volumes of data that data scientists and data engineers are typically the only users able to sort through them. ...
  • Data quality issues: Sifting through data lakes is a time-consuming process.
27 Oct 2021

Why is data lake called data lake? ›

A data lake is a storage repository that holds a vast amount of raw data in its native format until it is needed for analytics applications. While a traditional data warehouse stores data in hierarchical dimensions and tables, a data lake uses a flat architecture to store data, primarily in files or object storage.


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