Directory Layout

Elassandra merge the cassandra and elasticsearch directories as follow :

  • conf : Cassandra configuration directory + elasticsearch.yml default configuration file.
  • bin : Cassandra scripts + elasticsearch plugin script.
  • lib : Cassandra and elasticsearch jar dependency
  • pylib : Cqlsh python library.
  • tools : Cassandra tools.
  • plugins : Elasticsearch plugins installation directory.
  • modules : Elasticsearch modules directory.
  • work : Elasticsearch working directory.

Elasticsearch paths are set according to the following environement variables and system properties :

  • path.home : CASSANDRA_HOME environement variable, cassandra.home system property, the current directory.
  • path.conf : CASSANDRA_CONF environement variable, path.conf or path.home.
  • : cassandra_storagedir/data/, system property or path.home/data/


Elasticsearch configuration rely on cassandra configuration file conf/cassandra.yaml for the following parameters.

Cassandra Elasticsearch Description cluster_name Elasticsearch cluster name is mapped to the cassandra cluster name.
rpc_address Elasticsearch network and transport bind addresses are set to the cassandra rpc listen addresses.
broadcast_rpc_address network.publish_host transport.publish_host Elasticsearch network and transport publish addresses is set to the cassandra broadcast rpc address.

Node role (master, primary, data) is automatically set by elassandra, standard configuration should only set cluster_name, rpc_address in the conf/cassandra.yaml.


If you use the GossipPropertyFile Snitch to configure your cassandra datacenter and rack properties in conf/, keep in mind this snitch falls back to the PropertyFileSnitch when gossip is not enabled. So, when re-starting the first node, dead nodes can appear in the default DC and rack configured in conf/ This also breaks the replica placement strategy and the computation of the Elasticsearch routing tables. So it is strongly recommended to set the same default rack and datacenter in both the conf/ and conf/

Logging configuration

The cassandra logs in logs/system.log includes elasticsearch logs according to the your conf/logback.conf settings. See cassandra logging configuration.

Per keyspace (or per table) logging level can be configured using the logger name org.elassandra.index.ExtendedElasticSecondaryIndex.<keyspace>.<table>.

Multi datacenter configuration

By default, all elassandra datacenters share the same Elasticsearch cluster name and mapping. This mapping is stored in the elastic_admin keyspace.


If you want to manage distinct Elasticsearch clusters inside a cassandra cluster (when indexing differents tables in different datacenter), you can set a in conf/elasticsearch.yml and thus, all elassandra datacenters sharing the same datacenter group name will share the same mapping. Those elasticsearch clusters will be named <cluster_name>@<> and mapping will be stored in a dedicated keyspace.table elastic_admin_<>.metadata.

All elastic_admin[_<>] keyspaces are configured with NetworkReplicationStrategy (see data replication). where the replication factor is automatically set to the number of nodes in each datacenter. This ensure maximum availibility for the elaticsearch metadata. When removing a node from an elassandra datacenter, you should manually decrease the elastic_admin[_<>] replication factor to the number of nodes.

When a mapping change occurs, Elassandra updates Elasticsearch metadata in elastic_admin[_<>].metadata within a lightweight transaction to avoid conflit with concurrent updates. This transaction requires QUORUM available nodes, that is more than half the nodes of one or more datacenters regarding your configuration. It also involve cross-datacenter network latency for each mapping update.


Cassandra cross-datacenter writes are not sent directly to each replica; instead, they are sent to a single replica with a parameter telling that replica to forward to the other replicas in that datacenter; those replicas will respond diectly to the original coordinator. This reduces network trafic between datacenters when having many replica.

Elassandra Settings

Most of the settings can be set at variuous levels :

  • As a system property, default property is es.<property_name>
  • At clutser level, default setting is cluster.default_<property_name>
  • At index level, setting is index.<property_name>
  • At table level, setting is configured as a _meta:{ “<property_name> : <value> } for a document type.

For exemple, drop_on_delete_index can be :

  • set as a system property es.drop_on_delete_index for all created indices.
  • set at the cluster level with the cluster.default_drop_on_delete_index dynamic settings,
  • set at the index level with the index.drop_on_delete_index dynamic index settings,
  • set as the Elasticsearch document type level with _meta : { "drop_on_delete_index":true } in the document type mapping.

When a settings is dynamic, it’s relevant only for index and cluster setting levels, system and document type setting levels are immutables.

Setting Update Levels Default value Description          
secondary_index_class static index, cluster ExtendedElasticSecondaryIndex Cassandra secondary index implementation class. This class must implements org.apache.cassandra.index.Index interface.          
search_strategy_class dynamic index, cluster PrimaryFirstSearchStrategy

The search strategy class. Available strategy are :

  • PrimaryFirstSearchStrategy distributes search requests to all available nodes
  • RandomSearchStrategy distributes search requests to a subset of available nodes covering the whole cassandra ring. This improves search performance when RF > 1.
partition_function_class static index, cluster MessageFormatPartitionFunction

Partition function implementation class. Available implementations are :

  • MessageFormatPartitionFunction based on the java MessageFormat.format()
  • StringPartitionFunction based on the java String.format().
version_less_engine static index, cluster, system true If true, use the optimized lucene VersionLessEngine (does not more manage any document version), otherwise, use the standard Elasticsearch Engine.          
mapping_update_timeout dynamic cluster, system 30s Dynamic mapping update timeout.          
include_node_id dynamic type, index, cluster, system false If true, indexes the cassandra hostId in the _node field.          
synchronous_refresh dynamic type, index, cluster, system false If true, synchronously refreshes the elasticsearch index on each index updates.          
drop_on_delete_index dynamic type, index, cluster, system false If true, drop underlying cassandra tables and keyspace when deleting an index, thus emulating the Elaticsearch behaviour.          
index_on_compaction dynamic type, index, cluster, system false If true, modified documents during compacting of Cassandra SSTables are indexed (removed columns or rows invlove a read to reindex). This comes with a performance cost for both compactions and subsequent search requests because it generates lucene tombestones, but allows to update documents when rows or columns expires.          
snapshot_with_sstable dynamic type, index, cluster, system false If true, snapshot the lucene file when snapshoting SSTable.          
token_ranges_bitset_cache dynamic index, cluster, system false If true, caches the token_range filter result for each lucene segment.          
token_ranges_query_expire static system 5m Defines how long a token_ranges filter query is cached in memory. When such a query is removed from the cache, associated cached token_ranges bitset are also removed for all lucene segments.          
token_precision_step static system 6 Set the lucene numeric precision step, see Lucene Numeric Range QUery.          
index_static_document static type, index false If true, indexes static documents (elasticsearch documents containing only static and partition key columns).          
index_static_only static type, index false If true and index_static_document is true, indexes a document containg only the static and partition key columns.          
index_static_columns static type, index false If true and index_static_only is false, indexes static columns in the elasticsearch documents, otherwise, ignore static columns.          

Sizing and tunning

Basically, Elassandra requires much CPU than standelone Cassandra or Elasticsearch and Elassandra write throughput should be half the cassandra write throughput if you index all columns. If you only index a subset of columns, performance would be better.

Design recommendations :

  • Increase number of Elassandra node or use partitioned index to keep shards size below 50Gb.
  • Avoid huge wide rows, write-lock on a wide row can dramatically affect write performance.
  • Choose the right compaction strategy to fit your workload (See this blog post by Justin Cameron)

System recommendations :

  • Turn swapping off.
  • Configure less than half the total memory of your server and up to 30.5Gb. Minimum recommended DRAM for production deployments is 32Gb. If you are not aggregating on analyzed string fields, you can probably use less memory to improve file system cache used by Doc Values (See this excelent blog post by Chris Earle).
  • Set -Xms to the same value as -Xmx.
  • Ensure JNA and jemalloc are correctly installed and enabled.

Write performances

  • By default, Elasticsearch analyzes the input data of all fields in a special _all field. If you don’t need it, disable it.
  • By default, Elasticsearch shards are refreshed every second, making new document visible for search within a second. If you don’t need it, increase the refresh interval to more than a second, or even turn if off temporarily by setting the refresh interval to -1.
  • Use the optimized version less Lucene engine (the default) to reduce index size.
  • Disable index_on_compaction (default is false) to avoid the Lucene segments merge overhead when compacting SSTables.
  • Index partitioning may increase write throughput by writing to several Elasticsearch indexes in parallel, but choose an efficient partition function implementation. For exemple, String.format() is much more faster that Message.format().

Search performances

  • Use 16 to 64 vnodes per node to reduce the complexity of the token_ranges filter.
  • Use the random search strategy and increase the Cassandra replication factor to reduce the number of nodes requires for a search request.
  • Enable the token_ranges_bitset_cache. This cache compute the token ranges filter once per Lucene segment. Check the token range bitset cache statistics to ensure this caching is efficient.
  • Enable Cassandra row caching to reduce the overhead introduce by fetching the requested fields from the underlying Cassandra table.
  • Enable Cassandra off-heap row caching in your Cassandra configuration.
  • When this is possible, clean lucene tombestones (updated or deleted documents) and reduce the number of Lucene segments by forcing a merge.