For the past five days, I went deep into the Snowflake data warehouse, and prepared for their SnowPro Core Certification exam. However, they just came up with yet another “advanced” certification, with an additional $375 US per exam, which makes me totally back off today from their entire Snowflake certification offer, I will explain why…
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Snowflake is a last generation cloud data warehouse, using one of the top three cloud platforms: AWS, Azure or Google Cloud. They offer you $400 free credits (with no credit card required) to play with their web app for one month. Compute and storage layers are separated. A virtual warehouse can automatically start and process your queries, and shutdown by itself after 5 or 10 minutes. You mostly pay for the time consumed by these compute resources.
Why So Unusually Expensive for an IT Certification?
I passed in the past few months a few other certification exams – for AWS, Azure and Google Cloud. The price for a basic and associate exam was usually around $100-$150 US. For AWS, pass one exam, and the next one is offered at half price: $150 associate exams will actually cost you just $75. For Azure, one beta exam (they used to be free) cost me just $20.
I already felt the $175 US for the SnowPro Core Certification exam a bit pricey, especially when compared with the better known competitors like Microsoft, Google or Amazon. The new addition of the “advanced” certification will now lower the value of the Core exam, which however stayed at the same price.
And new exams are not only offered for $375 US each, but you must pass TWO exams per advanced certification: a whooping $550 US, just to prove you know their product?! And this is only if you pass both these exams the first time.
I’m sure some people will still go there, because the price will be paid by their employers. Or because they are partners with Snowflake… However, for the rest of us, who pay out of their pockets, it is a wrong and arrogant message this company sent.
How Would My Customers Guess What “SnowPro” Is?
- Your accreditation comes from a reputed well-known company: AWS (Amazon) or Google.
- The product is a top cloud platform: Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud.
- Your expertise has been tested in some easily recognized professional area: solution architecture or engineering.
What message sends a “SnowPro Core Certified” entry in your ad or resume? And why Snow-Pro in the first place?! I admit, Snowflake Certification may ring a different bell lately, as some young hyper-sensitive people are sometimes called “snowflakes”. And I doubt you would like something like this in your resume. But the title should tell people what this was about. SnowPro may sound “cool”, but few people would guess what it is.
Is There Enough Complexity to Justify Two Expensive Exams?
As a product, Snowflake is a great data warehouse. I love the way you create complex multi-cluster virtual warehouses with a simple graphical web interface. Its simplicity is in fact one of the main marketing signals for the company. And, as a data engineer or data scientist, it’s easier to configure and use than Google’s BigTable or Amazon’s Redshift.
One online article about the Snowflake certification talks about preparing for the exam in just three days. Yes, it is possible. Reading the online documentation doesn’t take so long. Internal details are not exposed, and you don’t have to know about. And the learning path for the new SnowPro Architect exam basically recommends the same articles. Of course you can always find deeper ways to learn about any software platform, but they may have forced the note here with this additional complexity.
With the core exam alone I was already wondering how many data scientists would need indeed the additional services of a data engineer. When most of them may choose this product especially because they can easily configure it themselves.
Conclusion: No, Not Enough Value in This Snowflake Certification
They came up indeed with a great product, I think I’ll use it for years to come. I learnt about and I’ll continue to dig deeper in what it does. But I don’t see enough value in spending between $175 and $550 US (or more!) just to try and acquire a Snowflake certification.
(1) It is overly expensive, (2) the message sent by the certification title is weak, and (3) I don’t see enough complexity in the product to justify two exams.
I’m sure some people will still go for it, mostly when they have someone else pay. But, if you’re on your own, with your low self-employed budget, this looks like a total rip-off.
Bonus: I found on LinkedIn one of the first certified Snowflake Architects (sic!), with dozens of short comments with congratulations. Remark where he works and what he does. I should add to my text that Snowflake employees may be the best consumers of this program 🙂