AWS Redshift Architecture: 5 Important Components

February 13, 2024
20 Mins

Modern data processing and analytics require large and complex datasets, which traditional databases may struggle to manage. They often result in slow query performance and high storage costs. These challenges led to the design of a more efficient AWS Redshift architecture. With its robust data management capabilities, you can easily handle vast amounts of data.

If you're exploring Amazon Redshift and trying to understand its architecture, this blog post is for you. In this article, you'll walk through the five major components that make up AWS Redshift architecture. By the end of this post, you'll have a clearer understanding of how Amazon Redshift works and what each component does. So, let's get started!

What is Amazon Redshift?

Redshift is a fully managed cloud-based data warehousing solution that can efficiently store and analyze massive amounts of data. It uses advanced technology to perform queries and retrieve data at high speeds. With Amazon Redshift, you can store and manage your data efficiently without worrying about infrastructure management.

Being built on top of the PostgreSQL open-source database system, it can support various SQL functions and commands. This makes it an easy job to integrate Redshift into your current data analysis workflows. Data will be processed and analyzed with great efficiency using a combination of columnar storage and parallel query execution. This makes it an ideal solution for data warehousing and ad hoc querying.

Benefits of Redshift

Let’s understand the various benefits offered by Amazon Redshift:

Scalability: One of the main advantages of Amazon Redshift is its ability to scale according to the amount of data stored, offering a cost-effective solution. It is also suitable for handling data processing tasks like ETL/ELT processes, as it can process data simultaneously across multiple nodes, making it well-suited for large-scale data processing operations.

High Performance: It is engineered to deliver fast performance for data analysis jobs. As it utilizes columnar storage technology, storing data in columns rather than in rows, this approach facilitates quick data retrieval. Furthermore, it employs massively parallel processing (MPP) to execute queries across numerous nodes, making it a rapid and effective solution for data analysis tasks.

Security: ​Amazon Redshift offers a range of security functionalities to assist you in safeguarding their data. It is constructed on the ​Amazon Web Services (​AWS) infrastructure, which is aimed at delivering robust security for data storage and analysis. Furthermore, Redshift enables data encryption both at rest and in transit and empowers you to manage data access using AWS Identity and Access Management (​IAM). 

Cost-Effective: Redshift offers an economical data warehousing solution with its pay-as-you-go pricing model. This means you are only charged for the resources they utilize, making it a cost-effective option for those with fluctuating data storage and analysis requirements. Additionally, the auto-scaling feature enables organizations to reduce expenses by adjusting their capacity according to their specific data storage and analysis needs.

Integration with Other AWS Services: Redshift easily integrates with other AWS services, allowing you to create intricate data workflows. For instance, AWS Glue can be utilized to extract, transform, and load data into Redshift, while AWS Lambda can be used to initiate data processing tasks in Redshift in response to events in other AWS services.

AWS Redshift Architecture

The Redshift architecture consists of different components, each playing a specific role in the overall system. Let’s closely examine the AWS Redshift architecture diagram and understand how it handles data and queries.

Client Applications: Amazon Redshift supports a range of data loading, BI reporting, data mining, and analytics tools. As it is built on open standard PostgreSQL, it's possible to use most existing SQL applications with minimal modifications. All communication between client applications and the cluster occurs exclusively through the leader node.

Cluster: In the Redshift AWS architecture, a cluster is the primary infrastructure component that executes workloads from external client applications. It usually consists of one or more compute nodes. If a cluster has two or more compute nodes, an additional leader node actively coordinates the compute nodes and manages external communication.

Leader Node: The leader node is the entry point for all queries and manages the overall coordination of the cluster. It performs three major functions:

  • Communication with Client Applications: The leader node is the only point of interaction between external applications and a cluster when running workloads, while the compute nodes remain transparent.
  • Distribution of workloads: The leader node is responsible for parsing queries, developing execution plans, and compiling SQL into C++ code. Finally, it distributes the compiled code to the compute nodes.
  • Caching of query results: Upon query execution, the leader node stores the query and its results in its memory cache. If a query or underlying data remains unchanged, the leader node doesn't distribute it to compute nodes and returns the cached result instantly for a faster response.

Compute Node: These nodes handle all query processing in parallel execution. They run the compiled code and return the interim results to the leader node for final aggregation. Each compute node has its CPU, memory, and storage. If you need to handle larger workloads, you can increase the computing capacity of a cluster by upgrading the node type or adding more nodes.

Node slices: A compute node divides its processing power into smaller units called slices, each allocated a specific portion of the node's memory and disk space. These slices work in parallel to process the workload assigned to the node, resulting in efficient resource utilization and improved performance.

In a nutshell, Redshift architecture is designed to handle big data workloads efficiently and securely. Its components work together to provide a highly scalable and parallel processing environment, while its advanced features. This includes columnar storage, data compression, and data distribution, helping to improve query performance and reduce costs.

What is AWS Redshift Spectrum?

While the above architecture provides a comprehensive overview of AWS Redshift's core functionality, you should note that it does not encompass AWS Redshift Spectrum. It is a service provided by Amazon Redshift that allows you to run intricate SQL queries on vast amounts of structured and unstructured data stored in Amazon Simple Storage Service (S3). This makes it an important part of the overall architecture for running Redshift effectively. 

With Redshift Spectrum, there's no need to manually load data from S3 for any operations as the service identifies and loads the necessary data. This is achieved through a predicate pushdown model, which automatically devises a plan to minimize the amount of data that needs to be read. 

Key Features of AWS Redshift Spectrum

Let’s understand the amazing features of Redshift Spectrum

Performance: Redshift Spectrum delivers remarkable performance when querying data directly at its location, boasting speeds nearly ten times faster than other data warehouses. Additionally, Redshift Spectrum can enhance data retrieval speed by adjusting caching sizes to match specific data requirements.

Easy to Use: Users have the ability to swiftly set up and use Redshift Spectrum for data management and execution of intricate queries within minutes.

File Format Support: Redshift Spectrum is compatible with various intricate data file formats, including JSON, ORC, and Parquet, and it also works with complex data structures like maps, arrays, and structures.

Let’s understand in detail through AWS Redshift Spectrum architecture.

The process begins with submitting ​Redshift Spectrum queries to the leader node of the Redshift cluster. It then optimizes, compiles, and delegates the query execution to the compute nodes in your cluster. These compute nodes refer to your data catalog to obtain information about the external tables and dynamically prune non-relevant partitions based on the filters and joins your queries. 

In addition, they analyze the locally available data and push down predicates to scan only the relevant objects in ​Amazon S3. Following this, the Amazon Redshift compute nodes generate multiple requests based on the number of objects that need processing and concurrently submit them to Spectrum, which collects thousands of ​Amazon EC2 instances per ​AWS Region. 

The Redshift Spectrum worker nodes then scan, filter, and aggregate data from Amazon S3, streaming the required data back to your cluster for processing. Finally, join and merge operations are subsequently performed locally in the cluster, and the results are returned to your client.

Simplify Redshift Warehousing using Airbyte’s No-Code Data Pipeline

Now that you know the robustness of the Redshift architecture. To use Redshift for your analytics workloads, you can use no-code ELT tools like Airbyte for migrating data from diverse sources. Airbyte enables you to effortlessly transfer your data to Redshift or any data warehouse, data lake, or database within minutes using pre-built connectors. It supports an extensive catalog of over 350+ connectors supporting various sources and destinations. Additionally, if you don’t find the desired connector in the pre-build list, you can build custom connectors using the Connector Development Kit (CDK)

Airbyte's no-code data pipeline offers a powerful and easy-to-use solution for building Redshift ELT pipelines that can easily handle complex data integrations, without writing a single line of code. Additionally, It also offers CDC functionality; any minor changes made at the source are automatically reflected in the Redshift database. 

Wrapping Up

Understanding AWS Redshift's architecture is essential for anyone who wants to work with this powerful data warehousing solution. The five major components of its architecture include the leader node, compute nodes, slices, cluster, and slice nodes. By understanding each of these components and how they work together, you can better understand how Redshift can help you store and analyze large volumes of data.

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