Ibis - Now flying on Snowflake

new feature

Phillip Cloud

Tyler White


June 19, 2024

Ibis allows you to push down compute operations on your data where it lives, with the performance being as powerful as the backend you’re connected to. But what happens if Ibis is running inside the backend you’re connected to?

In this post, we will discuss how we got Ibis running on a Snowflake virtual warehouse.

Why would we want to do this?

Snowflake has released several features to enable users to execute native Python code on the platform. These features include a new notebook development interface, Streamlit in Snowflake, the Native App framework, and Python within functions and stored procedures.

If users could use Ibis directly within the platform, developers could more easily switch between a local execution engine during development and efficiently deploy and operationalize that same code on Snowflake.

But this isn’t without its challenges; there were a few things we needed to figure out, and these are the questions we will answer throughout the post.

  • How can we get an Ibis connection to Snowflake - from within Snowflake?
  • How can we use third-party packages in Snowflake?
  • How are we going to test this to ensure it works?

Getting the Ibis connection

The release of Ibis 9.0 includes the introduction of a new method, from_snowpark to provide users with a convenient mechanism to take an existing Snowpark session and create an Ibis Snowflake backend instance with it.

Here’s what this looks like:

import ibis
import snowflake.snowpark as sp

session = sp.Session.builder.create()
con = ibis.snowflake.from_snowpark(session)

This connection uses the same session within Snowflake, so temporary objects can be accessed using Snowpark or Ibis in the same process! The contexts of stored procedures already have a session available, meaning we can use this new method and start writing Ibis expressions.

The way this works is that Ibis plucks out an attribute on the Snowpark session, which gives us the snowflake-connector-python SnowflakeConnection instance used by Snowpark.

Since Ibis uses snowflake-connector-python for all Snowflake-related connection we just reuse that existing instance.

Uploading third-party packages

Snowflake has many packages already made available out of the box through the Snowflake Anaconda channel, but unfortunately, Ibis and a few of its dependencies aren’t available. Packages containing pure Python code can be uploaded to stages for use within the platform, so we devised a clever solution to upload and reference these to get them working.

import os
import shutil
import tempfile

def add_packages(d, session):
    import parsy
    import pyarrow_hotfix
    import rich
    import sqlglot
    import ibis

    for module in (ibis, parsy, pyarrow_hotfix, rich, sqlglot):
        pkgname = module.__name__
        pkgpath = os.path.join(d, pkgname)
        shutil.copytree(os.path.dirname(module.__file__), pkgpath)
        session.add_import(pkgname, import_path=pkgname)

d = tempfile.TemporaryDirectory()
add_packages(d.name, session)

We can now register a stored procedure that imports these modules and is able to reference some of the additional dependencies that are already available.

        imports=["ibis", "parsy", "pyarrow_hotfix", "sqlglot", "rich"],

More permanent solutions to packaging

It’s possible that a more permanent solution could be achieved with a put or put_stream method rather than using the add_import method. This would allow for the packages to be referenced across multiple stored procedures or other places within the Snowflake platform.


While this is a clever solution, we must ensure it works consistently. A special unit test has been written for this exact case! The test creates a stored procedure by adding the necessary imports to the Snowpark session. Within the stored procedure, we define an Ibis expression, and we use the Ibis to_sql method to extract the generated SQL to pass to Snowpark to return a Snowpark DataFrame!


While it’s usually pretty easy to add new backends with Ibis, this was the first instance of supporting an additional interface to an existing backend.

We hope you take this for a spin! If you run into any challenges or want additional support, open an issue or join us on Zulip and let us know!

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