Trending Articles

Blog Post

Amazon Redshift Spectrum – Definition & Overview

Amazon Redshift Spectrum – Definition & Overview


Amazon Redshift Spectrum is a part of Amazon Redshift, a managed data warehouse service in the cloud. Spectrum extends the capabilities of Amazon Redshift by letting users perform complex queries on large datasets stored externally in Amazon S3 without needing to load data into Redshift tables. This empowers users to analyze data in their Amazon S3 data lake directly from the Amazon Redshift cluster.

Key Points of Amazon Redshift Spectrum:

Here are some key points about this data warehouse service:

  1. External Tables: Instead of loading data into Redshift, users define external tables referencing the data stored in Amazon S3. These external tables are similar to regular Redshift tables but don’t contain the actual data.
  2. Columnar Storage: It leverages a columnar storage format for the data stored in Amazon S3, making it highly optimized for analytic queries.
  3. Data Formats: This service supports various data formats such as Parquet, ORC, JSON, and Avro. Such flexibility allows users to work with different data types stored in the S3 data lake.
  4. Query Performance: Spectrum uses massive parallel processing (MPP) to implement queries efficiently, distributing the workload across multiple nodes in the Redshift cluster.
  5. Unified Querying: With this service, users can perform unified querying across data stored in Amazon S3 and in Redshift tables.
  6. Cost Model: It uses a pay-as-you-go pricing model. Users must pay as per the amount of data scanned in Amazon S3 while running queries.
  7. Integration with Redshift: Spectrum is fully integrated with Amazon Redshift, and users can use the same SQL syntax for querying local Redshift tables and external tables in S3.
  8. Security: This service inherits the security features of Amazon Redshift, including encryption in transit and at rest, Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) support, and Identity and Access Management (IAM) integration.

How Does Amazon Redshift Spectrum Work?

Amazon Redshift Spectrum facilitates Amazon Redshift clusters to query data straight from external data stored in Amazon S3. Instead of loading data into Redshift tables, users define external tables that reference the data in S3.

Furthermore, when a query is performed, Redshift Spectrum dynamically scales compute resources, distributing the workload across multiple nodes to process the data in parallel. The columnar storage format in S3 optimizes query performance, and users benefit from a unified querying experience that impeccably integrates data from Redshift tables and external S3 tables.

Therefore, it allows for efficient analysis of large datasets without extensive data movement, providing a cost-effective and scalable cloud analytics solution.

Pricing of Amazon Redshift Spectrum:

Amazon Redshift Spectrum follows a pay-per-use billing system at $5 per terabyte of data drawn from S3, with a 10 MB minimum query. AWS endorses that a customer compresses its data or stores it in columnar format to save money.


In conclusion, Amazon Redshift Spectrum proposes a powerful and cost-effective solution for analyzing large datasets without necessitating extensive data movement. Leveraging the scalability of massively parallel processing enables high-performance querying directly from data stored in Amazon S3.

Moreover, the unified analytics approach allows users to seamlessly integrate and analyze data from Redshift tables and external S3 tables, providing a flexible and ample solution for organizations with diverse data sources.

Redshift Spectrum’s support for various data formats, avoidance of data duplication, and pay-as-you-go pricing contribute to its appeal. Hence, it is a resourceful choice for organizations seeking scalable, cost-effective, unified analytics within the Amazon Redshift data warehousing ecosystem.

Related posts