Install K8ssandra on EKS

Complete production ready environment of K8ssandra on Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).

Tip: This topic is specific to K8ssandra 1.4.x. Consider exploring our most recent (and recommended) implementation: K8ssandra Operator. It includes a K8ssandraCluster custom resource and supports single- and multi-cluster Cassandra deployments in Kubernetes, for High Availability (HA) capabilities. See the K8ssandra Operator documentatation.

Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service or “EKS” is a managed Kubernetes service that makes it easy for you to run Kubernetes on AWS and on-premises. EKS is certified Kubernetes conformant, so existing applications that run on upstream Kubernetes are compatible with EKS. AWS automatically manages the availability and scalability of the Kubernetes control plane nodes responsible scheduling containers, managing the availability of applications, storing cluster data, and other key tasks.

Minimum deployment

This topic covers provisioning the following infrastructure resources as a minimum for production. See the next section for additional considerations discovered during performance benchmarks.

  • 1x Virtual Private Cloud
  • 10x Subnets
  • 3x Security Groups (& Rules)
  • 1x NAT Gateway
  • 1x Internet Gateway
  • 3x Elastic IP
  • 6x Route Table
  • 4x Route Table Association
  • 1x EKS cluster with instances spread across multiple Availability Zones.
  • 1x EKS Node Group
    • 6x Kubernetes workers
      • 8 vCPUs
      • 64 GB RAM
  • 3x 2TB EBS Volumes (provisioned automatically during installation of K8ssandra)
  • 1x Amazon S3 bucket for K8ssandra Medusa backups

On this infrastructure the K8ssandra installation will consist of the following workloads.

  • 3x node Apache Cassandra cluster
  • 3x node Stargate deployment
  • 1x node Prometheus deployment
  • 1x node Grafana deployment
  • 1x node Reaper deployment

Feel free to update the parameters used during this guide to match your target deployment. This should be considered a minimum for production workloads.

Infrastructure and Cassandra recommendations

While the section above includes infrastructure settings for minimum production workloads, performance benchmarks reveal a wider range of recommendations that are important to consider. The performance benchmark report, available in this detailed blog post, compared the throughput and latency between:

  • The baseline performance of a Cassandra cluster running on AWS EC2 instances – a common setup for enterprises operating Cassandra clusters
  • The performance of K8ssandra running on Amazon EKS, Google GCP GKE, and Microsoft Azure AKS.

It’s important to note the following additional AWS infrastructure settings and observations from the benchmark:

  • 8 to 16 vCPUs
    • r5 instances: Intel Xeon Platinum 8000 series. Cassandra workloads are mostly CPU bound and the core speed made a difference in the throughput benchmarks.
  • 32 GB to 128 GB RAM (we used 64 GB RAM during the benchmark)
  • 2 to 4 TB of disk space
    • In the benchmark, we used 1x 3.4 TB EBS gp2 volume
  • 10k IOPS (observed)

For the disk performance, the benchmark used Cassandra inspired fio profiles that attempt to emulate Leveled Compaction Strategy and Size Tiered Compaction Strategy behaviors.

Regarding the Cassandra version and settings:

  • The benchmark used Cassandra 4.0-beta4.

  • Cassandra default settings were applied with the exception of garbage collection (GC) settings. This used G1GC with 31GB of heap size, along with a few GC related JVM flags:

    -XX:InitiatingHeapOccupancyPercent=70 -Xms31G -Xmx31G

To summarize the findings, running Cassandra in Kubernetes using K8ssandra didn’t introduce any notable performance impacts in throughput or latency, all while K8ssandra simplified the deployment steps. See the blog post for more detailed settings, results, and the measures taken to ensure fair production comparisons.


As a convenience we provide reference Terraform modules for orchestrating the provisioning of cloud resources necessary to run K8ssandra.

Prerequisite tools

First, these steps assume you already have an AWS account. If not, see Create and activate a new AWS account in the AWS documentation.

Next, ensure you have the prerequisite tools installed (or subsequent versions), including the Terraform binary. Links below go to download resources:

Tool Version
Terraform 1.0.0 or higher
Terraform EKS provider ~>N.n
Helm 3
Amazon AWS SDK 2.2.0
kubectl 1.17.17
Python 3
aws-iam-authenticator 0.5.0

Install the Terraform binary

If you haven’t already, install Terraform. Refer to the helpful Terraform installation video on this page. Follow the instructions for your OS type, then return here.

Terraform install example for Ubuntu Linux:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install -y gnupg software-properties-common curl
curl -fsSL | sudo apt-key add -
sudo apt-add-repository "deb [arch=amd64] $(lsb_release -cs) main"
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install terraform

Verify the installation:

terraform version


Terraform v1.0.0
on darwin_amd64

Your version of Terraform is out of date! The latest version
is 1.0.1. You can update by downloading from

Set up the AWS CLI v2

If you haven’t already, set up the AWS CLI v2. The steps assume you already have an AWS account.

Follow the instructions in Installing, updating, and uninstalling the AWS CLI version 2.

Next, FYI, refer to Installing aws-iam-authenticator. As explained on that page, if you’re running the AWS CLI version 1.16.156 or later, you don’t need to install the authenticator.

Install kubectl

If you haven’t already, install kubectl. You’ll use kubectl commands to interact with your K8ssandra resources.

One option to get kubectl is described in this AWS topic, Installing kubectl. See the OS-specific examples. Here’s an example on Linux and the 1.17 Kubernetes version:

curl -o kubectl

Verify the kubectl install:

kubectl version --short --client


Client Version: v1.17.12

Install helm v3

If you haven’t already, install Helm v3. See this EKS topic, Using Helm with Amazon EKS. Note the prerequisite: before you can install Helm charts on your Amazon EKS cluster, you must configure kubectl to work for Amazon EKS. If you have not already done this, see Create a kubeconfig for Amazon EKS.

Once you’ve completed the prerequisites, see the [Helm install] steps for your OS. Here’s a Linux example:

curl >
chmod 700

Install Python v3

If you haven’t already, install Python version 3.x for your OS. See the python downloads page.

Checkout the k8ssandra-terraform project

Each of our reference deployment may be found in the GitHub k8ssandra/k8ssandra-terraform project. Download the latest release or current main branch locally.

git clone [email protected]:k8ssandra/k8ssandra-terraform.git


Cloning into 'k8ssandra-terraform'...
remote: Enumerating objects: 273, done.
remote: Counting objects: 100% (273/273), done.
remote: Compressing objects: 100% (153/153), done.
remote: Total 273 (delta 145), reused 233 (delta 112), pack-reused 0
Receiving objects: 100% (273/273), 71.29 KiB | 1.30 MiB/s, done.
Resolving deltas: 100% (145/145), done.
cd k8ssandra-terraform/aws

Configure aws CLI

Ensure you have authenticated your aws client by running the following command:

$ aws configure
AWS Access Key ID [None]: ....
AWS Secret Access Key [None]: ....
Default region name [None]: us-east-1
Default output format [None]: 

Setup Environment Variables

Set up the following environment variables for Terraform’s use. Be sure to specify the region you’re using in AWS.

export TF_VAR_environment=prod
export TF_VAR_name=k8ssandra
export TF_VAR_region=us-east-1

Provision Infrastructure

We begin this process by initializing our environment and configuring a workspace. To start we run terraform init which handles pulling down any plugins required and configures the backend.

cd env
terraform init


Initializing modules...
- eks in ../modules/eks
- iam in ../modules/iam
- s3 in ../modules/s3
- vpc in ../modules/vpc

Initializing the backend...

Successfully configured the backend "s3"! Terraform will automatically
use this backend unless the backend configuration changes.

Initializing provider plugins...
- Finding hashicorp/aws versions matching "~> 3.0"...
- Installing hashicorp/aws v3.37.0...
- Installed hashicorp/aws v3.37.0 (self-signed, key ID 34365D9472D7468F)

# Output reduced for brevity

Terraform has been successfully initialized!

Now we configure a workspace to hold our terraform state information.

terraform workspace new my-workspace


Created and switched to workspace "my-workspace"!

You're now on a new, empty workspace. Workspaces isolate their state,
so if you run "terraform plan" Terraform will not see any existing state
for this configuration.

With the workspace configured we now instruct terraform to plan the required changes to our infrastructure (in this case creation).

terraform plan


Terraform used the selected providers to generate the following execution plan. Resource actions are indicated with the following symbols:
  + create

Terraform will perform the following actions:

# Output reduced for brevity

Plan: 50 to add, 0 to change, 0 to destroy.

Changes to Outputs:
  + bucket_id        = (known after apply)
  + cluster_Endpoint = (known after apply)
  + cluster_name     = (known after apply)
  + cluster_version  = "1.19"

After planning we tell terraform to apply the plan. This command kicks off the actual provisioning of resources for this deployment.

terraform apply


# Output reduced for brevity

Plan: 50 to add, 0 to change, 0 to destroy.

Changes to Outputs:
  + bucket_id        = (known after apply)
  + cluster_Endpoint = (known after apply)
  + cluster_name     = (known after apply)
  + cluster_version  = "1.19"

Do you want to perform these actions in workspace "my-workspace"?
  Terraform will perform the actions described above.
  Only 'yes' will be accepted to approve.

  Enter a value: yes

# Output reduced for brevity

Apply complete! Resources: 50 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.


bucket_id = "prod-k8ssandra-s3-bucket"
cluster_Endpoint = ""
cluster_name = "prod-k8ssandra-eks-cluster"
cluster_version = "1.19"

With the EKS cluster deployed you may now continue with installing K8ssandra.

Validate Kubernetes Cluster Connectivity

After provisioning the EKS cluster with terraform apply the local Kubeconfig will automatically be updated with the appropriate entries. Let’s test this connectivity with kubectl.

kubectl cluster-info


Kubernetes control plane is running at https://.....
CoreDNS is running at https://..../api/v1/namespaces/kube-system/services/kube-dns:dns/proxy

To further debug and diagnose cluster problems, use 'kubectl cluster-info dump'.
kubectl version


Client Version: version.Info{Major:"1", Minor:"21", GitVersion:"v1.21.0", GitCommit:"cb303e613a121a29364f75cc67d3d580833a7479", GitTreeState:"clean", BuildDate:"2021-04-08T16:31:21Z", GoVersion:"go1.16.1", Compiler:"gc", Platform:"linux/amd64"}
Server Version: version.Info{Major:"1", Minor:"19+", GitVersion:"v1.19.8-eks-96780e", GitCommit:"96780e1b30acbf0a52c38b6030d7853e575bcdf3", GitTreeState:"clean", BuildDate:"2021-03-10T21:32:29Z", GoVersion:"go1.15.8", Compiler:"gc", Platform:"linux/amd64"}
WARNING: version difference between client (1.21) and server (1.19) exceeds the supported minor version skew of +/-1

Install K8ssandra

With all of the infrastructure provisioned we can now focus on installing K8ssandra. This will require configuring a service account for the backup and restore service, creating a set of Helm variable overrides, and setting up EKS specific ingress configurations.

Create Backup / Restore Service Account Secrets

As part of deploying infrastructure with Terraform an IAM policy is created allowing the EKS cluster workers to access S3 for backup and restore operations. At this time as part of deploying Medusa we must provide a secret for the pods to successfully get scheduled. In this case we will create an empty secret to bypass this limitation until k8ssandra/k8ssandra#712 is resolved.

kubectl create secret generic prod-k8ssandra-medusa-key


secret/prod-k8ssandra-medusa-key created

Generate eks.values.yaml

Here is a reference Helm values.yaml file with configuration options for running K8ssandra in EKS.

  # Version of Apache Cassandra to deploy
  version: "3.11.10"

  # Configuration for the /var/lib/cassandra mount point
    # AWS provides this storage class on EKS clusters out of the box. Note we
    # are using `gps` here as it has `volumeBindingMode: WaitForFirstConsumer`
    # which is important during scheduling.
    storageClass: gp2

    # The recommended live data size is 1 - 1.5 TB. A 2 TB volume supports this
    # much data along with room for compactions. Consider increasing this value
    # as the number of provisioned IOPs is directly related to the volume size.
    size: 2048Gi

   size: 31G
   newGenSize: 31G

      cpu: 7000m
      memory: 60Gi
      cpu: 7000m
      memory: 60Gi

  # This key defines the logical topology of your cluster. The rack names and
  # labels should be updated to reflect the Availability Zones where your EKS
  # cluster is deployed.
  - name: dc1
    size: 3
    - name: us-east-1a
      affinityLabels: us-east-1a
    - name: us-east-1b
      affinityLabels: us-east-1b
    - name: us-east-1c
      affinityLabels: us-east-1c

  enabled: true
  replicas: 3
  heapMB: 1024
  cpuReqMillicores: 3000
  cpuLimMillicores: 3000

  enabled: true
  storage: s3

  # Reference the Terraform output for the correct bucket name to use here.
  bucketName: prod-k8ssandra-s3-bucket

  # The secret here must align with the value used in the previous section.
  storageSecret: prod-k8ssandra-medusa-key

    region: us-east-1

Deploy K8ssandra with Helm

If you haven’t already, add the latest K8ssandra repo:

helm repo add k8ssandra


"k8ssandra" has been added to your repositories

To ensure you have the latest from all your repos:

helm repo update


Hang tight while we grab the latest from your chart repositories...
...Successfully got an update from the "k8ssandra" chart repository
Update Complete. ⎈Happy Helming!⎈

Now install K8ssandra and specify the eks.values.yaml file that you customized in a prior step:

helm install prod-k8ssandra k8ssandra/k8ssandra -f eks.values.yaml

Retrieve K8ssandra superuser credentials

You’ll need the K8ssandra superuser name and password in order to access Cassandra utilities and do things like generate a Stargate access token.

To retrieve K8ssandra superuser credentials:

  1. Retrieve the K8ssandra superuser name:

    kubectl get secret prod-k8ssandra-superuser -o jsonpath="{.data.username}" | base64 --decode ; echo


  2. Retrieve the K8ssandra superuser password:

    kubectl get secret prod-k8ssandra-superuser -o jsonpath="{.data.password}" | base64 --decode ; echo



Cleanup Resources

If this cluster is no longer needed you may optionally uninstall K8ssandra or delete all of the infrastructure.

Uninstall K8ssandra

$ helm uninstall prod-k8ssandra
release "prod-k8ssandra" uninstalled

Destroy EKS Cluster

terraform destroy


# Output omitted for brevity

Plan: 0 to add, 0 to change, 50 to destroy.

Do you really want to destroy all resources in workspace "my-workspace"?
  Terraform will destroy all your managed infrastructure, as shown above.
  There is no undo. Only 'yes' will be accepted to confirm.

  Enter a value: yes

# Output omitted for brevity

Destroy complete! Resources: 50 destroyed.

Next steps

With a freshly provisioned cluster on Amazon EKS, consider visiting the developer and site reliability engineer quickstarts for a guided experience exploring your cluster.

Alternatively, if you want to tear down your Amazon EKS cluster and / or infrastructure, refer to the sections above that cover cleaning up resources.