Administration Guide


Scylla is a NoSQL database compatible with Apache Cassandra.

Scylla will work with existing Cassandra CQL clients. However, mixed clusters of Scylla and Cassandra nodes are not supported. A Scylla node cannot join a Cassandra cluster, and a Cassandra node cannot join a Scylla cluster.

More on Scylla status.

System requirements

Platform support

Scylla runs on 64-bit Linux. The following operating system releases are supported:

Dist version
CentOS/RHEL 7.2 and above
Ubuntu 14.04
Ubuntu 16.04
Debian 8.6 and above

Scylla requires a fix to XFS append introduced in kernel 3.15 (back-ported to 3.10 in RHEL/CentOS). Scylla will not run with earlier kernel versions. Details in Scylla issue 885.

Hardware requirements and sizing

Scylla tries to maximize the resource usage of all system components. The shard-per-core approach allows linear scale-up with the number of cores. As you have more cores, it makes sense to balance the other resources, from memory to network.


Scylla requires modern Intel CPUs that support the SSE4.2 instruction set and will not boot without it.

In terms of number of cores, any number will work since Scylla scales up with the number of cores. A practical approach is to use a large number of cores as long as the hardware price remains reasonable. 20-60 logical cores (including hyperthreading) is a good number, but any number fits. When using virtual machines, containers, or public cloud, remember that each virtual CPU is mapped to a single logical core, or hyperthread.

Memory requirements

One logical core (lcore) is one hyperthreaded core on a hyperthreaded system, or one physical core on a system without hyperthreading.

  • Minimum: 1GiB on 1 lcore (when run with --smp 1)
  • Recommend minimum for test environments: 1 GiB/lcore (1 Gib for each lcore)
  • Recommended minimum for production environments: 4 GiB or 1 GiB/lcore (whichever is higher)
  • Typical recommended for production: 16 GiB or 2GiB/lcore (whichever is higher)
  • Absolute maximum: 1 TiB / lcore, up to 256 lcores

The more memory you have, the better Scylla will perform, since Scylla can use all of it for caching. The wider your rows in your schema, the more memory you’ll need. 64GiB-256GiB is good range for a medium or high workload.


We highly recommend SSD and local disks. Scylla is built to handle up to 10TB per node. It is not rare to observe a rate of 1.5TB/s with Scylla per node. When there are multiple drives, we recommend a RAID-0 setup and a replication factor of 3 within the local datacenter (RF=3).

HDDs are supported but may become a bottleneck. Some workloads may work with HDDs, especially if they play nice and minimize random seeks. An example of an HDD-friendly workload is a write-mostly (98% writes) workload, with minimal random reads. If you use HDDs, try to allocate a separate disk for the commit log (not needed with SSDs).


10Gbps is preferred, especially for large nodes. Make sure you run our setup scripts which tune the interrupts and their queues.

Download and Install

See the getting started page for info on installing Scylla on your platform.

Migrating data from Apache Cassandra to Scylla

Scylla supports the ka version of the Cassandra SSTable format, meaning that your Cassandra version should be 2.1.* for compatibility.

Migrating Data Directory

The default data directory for Scylla is /var/lib/scylla/data. To migrate data, simply copy or soft link your Apache Cassandra SSTable directory to this location. The copy will guarantee that your original data is preserved.

Migrating the Commit Log

The Apache Cassandra commit log will not be migrated. Make sure to empty (flush) the Apache Cassandra node commit log before migration.

Migrating cassandra.yaml config file

Simply copy cassandra.yaml to scylla.yaml. The scylla.yaml default location is /etc/scylla/scylla.yaml

System configuration

See System Configuration Guide for details on optimum OS settings for Scylla. (These settings are performed automatically in the Scylla packages, Docker containers, and Amazon AMIs.)

Scylla Configuration

Scylla configuration files are:

Installed location Description
/etc/default/scylla-server (Ubuntu/Debian) | Server startup options /etc/sysconfig/scylla-server (others) |
/etc/scylla/scylla.yaml Main Scylla configuration file


The scylla-server file contains configuration related to starting up the Scylla server.


scylla.yaml is equivalent to the Apache Cassandra cassandra.yaml configuration file, and it is compatible for relevant parameters. Below is a subset of scylla.yaml with parameters you are likely to update. For full list of parameters, look at the file itself.

# The name of the cluster. This is mainly used to prevent machines in
# one logical cluster from joining another.
cluster_name: 'Test Cluster'

# This defines the number of tokens randomly assigned to this node on the ring
# The more tokens, relative to other nodes, the larger the proportion of data
# that this node will store. You probably want all nodes to have the same number
# of tokens assuming they have equal hardware capability.
# If you already have a cluster with 1 token per node, and wish to migrate to
# multiple tokens per node, see
num_tokens: 256

# Directory where Scylla should store data on disk.
    - /var/lib/scylla/data

# commit log.  when running on magnetic HDD, this should be a
# separate spindle than the data directories.
commitlog_directory: /var/lib/scylla/commitlog

# seed_provider class_name is saved for future use.
# seeds address are mandatory!
    # Addresses of hosts that are deemed contact points.
    # Scylla nodes use this list of hosts to find each other and learn
    # the topology of the ring.  You must change this if you are running
    # multiple nodes!
    - class_name: org.apache.cassandra.locator.SimpleSeedProvider
          # seeds is actually a comma-delimited list of addresses.
          # Ex: "<ip1>,<ip2>,<ip3>"
          - seeds: ""

# Address or interface to bind to and tell other Scylla nodes to connect to.
# You _must_ change this if you want multiple nodes to be able to communicate!
# Setting listen_address to is always wrong.
listen_address: localhost

# Address to broadcast to other Scylla nodes
# Leaving this blank will set it to the same value as listen_address
# broadcast_address:

# port for the CQL native transport to listen for clients on
# For security reasons, you should not expose this port to the internet.  Firewall it if needed.
native_transport_port: 9042

# Uncomment to enable experimental features
# experimental: true

By default scylla.yaml is located at /etc/scylla/scylla.yaml

scylla.yaml required settings

The following configuration items must be set

Item Content
cluster_name Name of the cluster, all the nodes in the cluster must have the same name
seeds Seed nodes are used during startup to bootstrap the gossip process and join the cluster
listen_address IP address that the Scylla use to connect to other Scylla nodes in the cluster
rpc_address IP address of interface for client connections (Thrift, CQL)

Configuring TLS/SSL in scylla.yaml

Scylla versions 1.1 and greater support encryption between nodes and between client and node. See the Scylla TLS/SSL Guide for configuration settings.


Scylla uses the following ports:

Port Description Protocol
9042 CQL (native_transport_port) TCP
7000 Inter-node communication (RPC) TCP
7001 SSL inter-node communication (RPC) TCP
7199 JMX management TCP
10000 Scylla REST API TCP
9180 Prometheus API TCP
9100 node_exporter (Optionally) TCP
9160 Scylla client port (Thrift) TCP

All ports above need to be open to external clients (CQL), external admin systems (JMX), and other nodes (RPC). REST API port can be kept closed for external incoming connections.

The JMX service, scylla-jmx, runs on port 7199. It is required in order to manage Scylla using nodetool and other Apache Cassandra-compatible utilities. The scylla-jmx process must be able to connect to port 10000 on localhost. The JMX service listens for incoming JMX connections on all network interfaces on the system.

Advanced networking

It is possible that a client, or another node, may need to use a different IP address to connect to a Scylla node from the address that the node is listening on. This is the case when a node is behind port forwarding. Scylla allows for setting alternate IP addresses.

Do not set any IP address to

Address Content Default
listen_address IP address of interface for inter-node connections, as seen from localhost. No default (required)
broadcast_address IP address of interface for inter-node connections, as seen from other nodes in the cluster. listen_address
rpc_address IP address of interface for client connections, as seen from localhost No default (required)
broadcast_rpc_address IP address of interface for client connections, as seen from clients rpc_address

If other nodes can connect directly to listen_address, then broadcast_address does not need to be set.

If clients can connect directly to rpc_address, then broadcast_rpc_address does not need to be set.

Core dumps

On RHEL and CentOS, the Automatic Bug Reporting Tool (ABRT) conflict with Scylla coredump configuration. Remove it before installing Scylla: sudo yum remove -y abrt

Scylla places any core dumps in var/lib/scylla/coredump. They are not visible with the coredumpctl command. See the System Configuration Guide for details on core dump configuration scripts. Check with Scylla support before sharing any core dump, as they may contain sensitive data.

Schedule fstrim

You must run the fstrim utility regularly on the filesystem(s) containing your Scylla commitlog and data directory. This utility will discard, or trim, any blocks no longer in use by the filesystem.

Configure a daily or weekly cron job, or equivalent, to run fstrim. You can run fstrim -a to trim all mounted filesystems that support it, or trim individual filesystems by passing the mount points as arguments.

Basic Operations

Taking a snapshot

Taking a snapshot makes a copy of the current state of Scylla data on a given node. Each snapshot is node-local and cannot necessarily be used to reconstruct the data for the full cluster. In order to back up a cluster, you need to take snapshots on multiple or all nodes, depending on replication design.

To create a snapshot:

nodetool snapshot

The result is a large number of files under the Scylla data directory. A snapshot is not placed in a single file or directory, but spread throughout the Scylla data heirarchy.

Snapshot files are hardlinks, not copies of the individual data files. Scylla will replace the individual files and leave the snapshots in place.

Scylla assigns a unique snapshot name, an integer, based on the current time. The output of a successful snapshot command looks like:

Requested creating snapshot(s) for [all keyspaces] with snapshot name [1452303033540]
Snapshot directory: 1452303033540

All snapshot files are named with the pattern:


For example, a snapshot file in the chat keyspace could be named


This is a data file that is part of the “users” table in the “chat” keyspace.

It is important to keep all the files that are part of a given snapshot together.

Restoring from a snapshot

Remove any files under commitlog and data in the Scylla data directory.

Copy the snapshot files into place under data.

Move the individual files up two levels, from snapshots/$SNAPSHOT_NAME into the main table directory. For example:

mv ./snapshots/1452302843716/* .

Restart Scylla.


Scylla exposes four interfaces for online monitoring, as described below.


Scylla JMX is compatible with Apache Cassandra, exposing the relevant subset of MBeans.


For each JMX operation, attribute get and set, Scylla expose a matching REST API. You can interact with the REST API using curl or using the Swagger UI available at your-ip:10000/ui


By default, Scylla listen on port 9180 for Prometheus requests. To connect a Prometheus server to scylla in your prometheus.yaml configuration file, add scylla as a target with your-ip:9180

For more information on monitoring Scylla with Prometheus see scylla-grafana-monitoring.

You can change Prometheus listening address and port in scylla.yaml file

# prometheus port
# By default, Scylla opens prometheus API port on port 9180
# setting the port to 0 will disable the prometheus API.
prometheus_port: 9180
# prometheus address
# By default, Scylla binds all interfaces to the prometheus API
# It is possible to restrict the listening address to a specific one


By default, Scylla sends metrics to a local Collectd process, allowing you to watch Scylla status with scyllatop. Scylla can also sends metric over Collectd protocol to an external Collectd server, Graphite or similar tools. To forward metrics to an external server, update /etc/collectd.d/scylla.conf to work as a proxy:

LoadPlugin network
<Plugin "network">
  Listen "" "25826"
  Server "remote-ip" "25826"
  Forward true

Where remote-ip is the IP of your external Collectd server. Make sure to keep other elements of the file as is. Restart the collectd server for the new configuration to apply sudo service collectd restart

To change the sample rate of Scylla metrics, update the SCYLLA_ARGS line in /etc/sysconfig/scylla-server file, parameter --collectd-poll-period 3000 (number in ms).


Logging with the systemd journal (CentOS, Amazon AMI, Ubuntu 16.04, Debian 8)

On distributions with systemd, Scylla logs are written to the systemd journal. You can retrieve log entries with the journalctl command.

Here are a few useful examples.

  • get logs generated by the “scylla” user: journalctl _UID=`id -u scylla`
  • get logs generated by the “scylla” command: journalctl _COMM=scylla
  • filter only Scylla logs by priority: journalctl _COMM=scylla -p err..emerg or journalctl _COMM=scylla -p warning
  • filter only Scylla logs by date: journalctl _COMM=scylla --since="2013-3-16 23:59:59" or journalctl _COMM=scylla --since "2015-01-10" --until "2015-01-11 03:00" or journalctl _COMM=scylla --since yesterday
  • filter only Scylla logs since last server boot: journalctl _COMM=scylla -b

Logging on Ubuntu 14.04

On Ubuntu 14.04, Scylla writes its initial boot message into /var/log/upstart/scylla-server.log.

After Scylla has started, logs are stored in /var/log/syslog. You can filter Scylla logs by creating a rsyslog configuration file with the following rule (for example, in /etc/rsyslog.d/10-scylla.conf):

:syslogtag, startswith, "scylla" /var/log/scylla/scylla.log
& ~

And then creating the log file with the correct permissions and restarting the service:

install -o syslog -g adm -m 0640 /dev/null /var/log/scylla/scylla.log
service rsyslog restart

This will send Scylla only logs to /var/log/scylla/scylla.log.

Logging on Docker

Starting from Scylla 1.3, Scylla Docker, you should use docker logs command to access Scylla server and JMX proxy logs.


Scylla is designed for high performance before tuning, for fewer layers that interact in unpredictable ways, and to use better algorithms that do not require manual tuning. The following items are found in the manuals for other data stores, but do not need to appear here.

Configuration un-contents

  • Generating tokens
  • Configuring virtual nodes

Operations un-contents

  • Tuning Bloom filters
  • Data caching
  • Configuring memtable throughput
  • Configuring compaction
  • Compression

Testing compaction and compression

  • Tuning Java resources
  • Purging gossip state on a node

Help with Scylla

Contact Support, or visit the Scylla Community page for peer support.

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