Snowflake Administration with Terraform

Written by: Tamilselvan Pattabiraman

Effectively managing Snowflake environments using Terraform is crucial for automating and standardizing configurations across different stages. By treating infrastructure as code, Terraform ensures consistency, scalability, and traceability, enabling version control and collaboration. The platform’s dependency management and automation capabilities streamline resource provisioning, facilitating efficient adjustments and adherence to security measures and compliance standards. This approach aligns with DevOps practices, enhancing agility and minimizing the risk of errors in Snowflake environment management.

Why Use Terraform for Snowflake Setup?

Snowflake environment setup often involves numerous manual steps, introducing the potential for errors and inconsistencies. The complexity of scaling and maintaining environments manually poses challenges to scalability and agility. Lack of versioning and tracking impedes traceability and reversion to prior states. Managing dependencies between resources becomes challenging, leading to conflicts and errors. Overall, this manual approach increases operational inefficiencies and heightens security and compliance risks. To mitigate such challenges and align with industry standards, Terraform emerges as a crucial tool for any organization.

Setting Up Snowflake Using Terraform

The Terraform Snowflake Provider facilitates the provisioning of Snowflake resources via declarative Infrastructure as Code. This guide provides you an overview of creating common Snowflake resources using Terraform, assuming the reader has a basic understanding of Terraform.


  • Snowflake Trial account
  • Terraform cloud account
  • Terraform installed on your local machine
  • GitHub account for hosting IaC
  • Code editor of your choice (VS Code Preferred)

Step 1. Setting up Snowflake environment

  1. Create a Service User for Terraform and role for creating other resources.
  2. Establish key-pair authentication required for CI/CD pipelines to run Terraform.
  3. Grant ACCOUNTADMIN, SECURITYADMIN and SYSADMIN privileges to the role.

Step 2. Setting up Terraform environment in cloud

  1. Create an "API-driven workflow" in workspace and embed following environment variables.
  2. Create an API token

Step 3. Setting up GitHub Environment

  1. Create a new repository to hold your Terraform project.
  2. Use GitHub's "Action Secrets" for secure storage of sensitive information like API tokens within CI/CD pipelines.

Note: To establish automated pipelines for build and release processes, GitHub uses Action Workflows, defined as YAML files stored in the repository's .github/workflows directory

Step 4. Configuration of Snowflake resources with Terraform

1. Clone the new repository to your local machine and create a new file in the root directory named to specify terraform version / Providers / and backend configurations.

2. Create a separate file named to define required parameters for Snowflake resources.

3. Commit the new script and push the changes to execute defined steps in the GitHub workflow YAML file.

Step 5. Creating Objects in Snowflake with Terraform and GitHub CI/CD Pipeline

1. Use GitHub Actions tab to view all workflow runs and check the output

2. In Terraform Cloud's Workspace, visit the "Runs" tab to find corresponding runs from GitHub Actions and review outputs

3. Commit the new script and push the changes to execute defined steps in the GitHub workflow YAML file.

Best Practices

  • Use Terraform for account level objects like warehouses, roles, privileges, network policies, integrations, databases, schemas, etc.
  • Utilize secret managers within cloud provider to store keys securely
  • Employ cloud storage services for managing the state files to handle scenarios like out-of-sync and corruption issues
  • Sequence resource creation based on dependencies, especially for integrations and notifications relying on cloud services
  • Structure your repository with reusable modules and account-specific modules flexibility
  • Ensure comprehensive coverage by including log files, Terraform directories, etc., in the .gitignore file.
  • Terraform cloud shall be used to maintain Terraform states and it provides flexibility to collaborate on version-controlled configurations.

Plan of Action

Implementing Snowflake resource management with Terraform in real world scenarios presents several challenges and complexities, with customization needs varying across industries and customer requirements. Key considerations include:

  • Handling Terraform State Corruption: Addressing potential corruption in Terraform state requires robust strategies. Implementing backup mechanisms and version control for state files helps mitigate risks and aids in recovery during unforeseen issues.
  • Ensuring Clean Infrastructure Teardown: Thoroughly cleaning up infrastructure without leaving loose ends is crucial. This involves careful planning, dependency tracking with caution to avoid unintended consequences.
  • Importing and Managing Existing Snowflake Resources: Integrating existing Snowflake resources into Terraform requires a clear understanding of import processes. Establish a systematic approach to import, ensuring that existing configurations align seamlessly with Terraform's infrastructure definitions.
  • Efficient Multi-Tenant Environment Management in Snowflake: Handling multi-tenancy in Snowflake necessitates thoughtful resource isolation and access control. Utilize Snowflake's built-in features for multi-tenancy and complement them with Terraform configurations that enforce the desired structure and policies.
  • Designing Information Architecture and Infrastructure as Code (IaC): Drafting a robust information architecture and translating it into Infrastructure as Code (IaC) involves defining clear module structures, variable hierarchies, and reusable components. Ensure that the IaC reflects the desired state of the Snowflake resources and supports scalability and maintainability.

Successfully addressing these challenges requires a combination of careful planning, continuous monitoring, and adapting the Terraform configurations to evolving requirements in the Snowflake environment.