Create a Simple Cassandra Cluster With 3 Nodes

Create a Simple Cassandra Cluster With 3 Nodes

Category : How-to

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datastax-logoApache Cassandra™ is a massively scalable open source NoSQL database. Cassandra is built from day 1 to be clustered to tick the usual clustering boxes; no single point of failure, and capacity and throughput scales with cluster size. This guide will look at creating a three node basic cluster within a single data centre.

It is assumed that the following is already in place:

  • Cassandra 3.2 is installed on 3 nodes.
  • Each node has open communication between the other nodes. Take a look here if you use a firewall between nodes.
  • The IP addresses of each node are known.
  • No data is stored on the 3 Cassandra instances.
  • The default file paths are used, for example from a yum or apt-get install.

Clear existing Cassandra data

If you’ve already started your Cassandra instance you’ll need to stop it and remove the data it contains. The main reason for this is because the cluster_name needs to be the same on all nodes, and it’s best to choose one for yourself rather than use the default Test Cluster.

Set the Cassandra cluster configuration

Cassandra is configured using various files in the /etc/cassandra directory. The cassandra.yaml contains most of the Cassandra configuration, such as ports used, file locations and seed node IP addresses. Edit your cassandra.yaml file and fill in the details as below. The below example is for brevity and your file may contain many other settings.

  • cluster_name can be anything chosen by you to describe the name of the cluster. Space is allowed but make sure you wrap everything in quotes. All members of this cluster must have the same name.
  • num_tokens is the number of virtual nodes within a Cassandra instance. This is used to partition the data and spread the data throughout the cluster. A good starting point is 256.
  • seeds are the IP addresses of the clusters seed servers. Seed nodes are used as known places where cluster information (such as a list of nodes in the cluster) can be obtained. They are not a single point of failure as all active nodes have this information, they are just known locations that can be relied on to have the information when other machines can come and go. It’s recommended that there are 3 seed nodes per data centre.
  • listen_address is the IP address that Cassandra will listen on for internal (Cassandra to Cassandra) communication will occur. Cassandra will try to guess your machines IP address if you leave it blank, but it’s best to specify it yourself. This will change on each node.
  • rpc_address is the IP address that Cassandra will listen on for client based communication, such as through the CQL protocol. This will change on each node.
  • endpoint_snitch is the ‘snitch’ used by Cassandra. A snitch is what tells Cassandra which data center and rack a node belongs to within a cluster. There are various types that could be used here, however describing them is outside the scope of this guide.

Example for node 1:

Example for node 2:

Example for node 3:

Cassandra is built to be fault tolerant and will distribute data to try to minimize the risk of a failure causing loss of data or any downtime. Cassandra therefore has the understanding of a node, a rack and a data centre. Where possible, Cassandra will ensure that the data and it’s backups are stored on a different rack and a different data centre to ensure that failure, even at a data centre level isn’t catastrophic.

Edit the file on each node and set the dc and rack attributes. For this example we’ll assume everything is in the same dcdc1 however two nodes will be on rack1 and one node will be on rack2. Names are irrelevant, just come up with a naming standard that helps you understand where the Cassandra instance actually is. Everything here is case sensitive so be sure you’re consistent.

Example for node 1:

Example for node 2:

Example for node 3:

Finally, remove the config file from the etc dir as that’s not used with our configuration.

Starting your Cassandra cluster

The final steps are to start your cluster and connect to it.

First off, start your seed instances that were specified in the cassandra.yaml config file. Once these are up and running you can start the remaining nodes.

Once all of your services are started you can use the nodetool status command to check the status of your nodes. Run this from any Cassandra server. As you can see with the below output, all three servers are available in the uk_dc data centre on rack1 and rack2.

Connect to your Cassandra Cluster

Once all of your servers have started your cluster is ready to use! Each node will have the cqlsh utility installed that you can use to interact with your Cassandra cluster. You’ll need to use one of the IP addresses Cassandra is listening on (set with rpc_address in cassandra.yaml).


Cassandra Firewall Ports

Category : Knowledge

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datastax-logoCassandra uses various ports for communication, either server to server communication or client to server communication.

If you’re using Cassandra in a firewalled environment you may need to open various ports depending on your needs. All ports are TCP and can be configured in the relevant config files to use non-default ports.

Port # Type Description
7000 TCP Non-encrypted inter-node cluster communication. Not used if SSL is in use.
7001 TCP Encrypted SSL inter-node cluster communication. Not used if SSL is not in use.
7199 TCP JMX monitoring port.
9042 TCP Client port used for native CQL.
9160 TCP Client port used for Thrift.

Install DataStax Cassandra 3 on Debain/ Ubuntu

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datastax-logoThe following process will install the DataStax distribution of Cassandra on any Debian based system, such as Debian or Ubuntu. We’ll use the official DataStax apt repositories to install Cassandra using apt-get.

Cassandra is written in Java and the latest version (at the time of writing) of Cassandra requires Java 8. You can use either OpenJDK or visit my Oracle Java post on installing the Oracle distribution of Java 8.

Once you have Java 8 installed and confirmed you can continue to install Cassandra. Use java -version on the command line to check your Java version.

Install DataStax Cassandra 3.4

Note: You can use the simple Bash script to install Java 8 and a single instance of Cassandra found here.

The first step to installing Cassandra with apt is to add the DataStax Cassandra repository and repository key to your local apt list. Run the following command to add the required repository and update your local apt cache. Change the version 3.4 on the first line to match the version you’d like to install.

Once you’re updated then run the install command and begin the Cassandra install.

Debian’s policy is for software to be available locally after the install has completed and therefore your Cassandra instance will be running as a single stand alone node.

You can run the nodetool to check the install has completed and that the Cassandra instance is available.

The next step is to configure your Cassandra instance by editing the yaml config file /etc/cassandra/cassandra.yaml but that’s a blog post for another day.

DataStax Cassandra 3.2 Bash Install Script

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The below script installs the DataStax distribution of Cassandra 3.2.x and the latest Oracle Java 8 on Debian. Copy and paste the script into a file called and execute it as root.

Change the version 3.2 on line 12 to match the version you’d like to install.

Then connect to the local Cassandra instance run the cqlsh tool.


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