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Cassandra schema migrations on application startup


This post shows how to setup a spring boot project in order to have the Cassandra CQL schema migrations securely performed on application startup through the help of the cassandra-migration library.

Database migrations are a topic that the software engineers have long struggled with. After doing a git pull for the latest changes on the application code, it happened quite often that the application didn’t work anymore on the local machine simply because a database table had to be created or altered manually on the local database.

Not that seldom production application crashes occurred during deployments due to the fact that the database engineer didn’t run all the database scripts corresponding to the new application release.

In order to address the before mentioned problems, in the relational database world, the SQL schema migrations have been integrated in the application code and the new schema migrations are executed on the database while the application is being started.

The libraries:

are used extensively in the Java world for performing database schema migrations on the application startup. As a side note, these libraries offer the possibility to dryrun and generate all the SQL scripts relevant for the new productive application release into a .sql file which can be then reviewed and executed manually by a database system administrator.

Due to the fact that Cassandra database is not a relational database, flyway doesn’t offer support for performing schema migrations on top of Cassandra.can’t be There is actually an Github issue that dates since 2014 on flyway, which eventually sparked the creation of the cassandra-migration library.

This post shows how to integrate the cassandra-migration library in a spring boot application in order not only to perform the schema migrations on the application startup, but also when the test environment is being setup.

In this way, both the productive and the test code use the same database schema.

Separation of concerns

As already mentioned, the schema migrations are performed only during application startup phase. This kind of database statements (CREATE, ALTER, DROP) are to be performed by a database user which obviously is thought only for schema migrations purposes.

On the other hand, when thinking of security concerns for the application, the database user required for executing database statements required for covering the application functionality (SELECT, INSERT, DELETE) should have more restrictive permissions. In this manner, there can be avoided catastrophic changes on the database (DROP , TRUNCATE) that can occur through software bugs or application attacks.

Therefor it makes very much sense to have two different Cassandra database users in the application:

  • a migration user dealing solely with CQL migrations on the application startup
  • an application user dealing with the CQL queries required for offering the functionality exposed by the application

Spring-boot integration

The and org.cognitor.cassandra.migration.spring.CassandraMigrationAutoConfiguration spring boot auto-configuration classes are based on the presumption that only one database user is used for both application and migration database queries. For this reason, they need to be excluded from being taken into consideration when initializing the spring dependency injection bean container.

@SpringBootApplication(exclude = {CassandraDataAutoConfiguration.class,
public class DemoApplication {

The project sample code provided with this post creates explicitly two different clusters:

  • applicationCluster
  • migrationCluster
public class CassandraConfiguration {

  public CassandraClusterFactoryBean migrationCluster(
      @Value("${}") String contactPoints,
      @Value("${cassandra.migration.username}") String username,
      @Value("${cassandra.migration.password}") String password) {
    PoolingOptions poolingOptions = new PoolingOptions()
        .setConnectionsPerHost(HostDistance.LOCAL, 1, 1)
        .setConnectionsPerHost(HostDistance.REMOTE, 1, 1)
        .setMaxRequestsPerConnection(HostDistance.LOCAL, 1)
        .setMaxRequestsPerConnection(HostDistance.REMOTE, 1);

    return createCassandraClusterFactoryBean(poolingOptions, contactPoints, username, password);

  @Bean(name = "applicationCluster")
  public CassandraClusterFactoryBean applicationCluster(
      @Value("${}") String contactPoints,
      @Value("${cassandra.application.username}") String username,
      @Value("${cassandra.application.password}") String password) {
    PoolingOptions poolingOptions = new PoolingOptions();
    return createCassandraClusterFactoryBean(poolingOptions, contactPoints, username, password);

The applicationCluster is being used for building the CassandraTemplate bean which will subsequently power all the spring data cassandra repository classes.

public class CassandraConfiguration {

  public CassandraSessionFactoryBean cassandraSessionFactoryBean(
      @Qualifier("applicationCluster") CassandraClusterFactoryBean applicationCluster,
      @Value("${cassandra.application.keyspaceName}") String keyspaceName) {

    Cluster cluster = applicationCluster.getObject();
    CassandraSessionFactoryBean session = new CassandraSessionFactoryBean();

    return session;

  public CassandraOperations cassandraTemplate(
      CassandraSessionFactoryBean cassandraSessionFactoryBean) {
    return new CassandraTemplate(cassandraSessionFactoryBean.getObject());

The migrationCluster cluster on the other hand is being used only during the application startup for performing the Cassandra schema migrations with the help of cassandra-migration library.

public class CassandraMigrationConfiguration extends CassandraMigrationAutoConfiguration {
  // ...

  @Bean(initMethod = "migrate")
  public MigrationTask migrationTask(
      @CassandraMigrationCluster ObjectProvider<Cluster> migrationClusterProvider) {
    Cluster migrationCluster = migrationClusterProvider.getIfAvailable();
    return super.migrationTask(migrationCluster);

  // ...

With the configurations listed above the secure integration of the cassandra-migration library in the spring boot application should be almost complete.

All what is left, are the actual CQL migration files that come into the directory denoted by ${cassandra.migration.scriptLocation} environment property.

NOTE that each migration file should contain exactly one CQL statement. Therefor, in case that an application feature needs more database changes, they must be split to different files. Nevertheless, the naming of the migration files is pretty liberal, so the files can look like this:

  • 0080_awesome_feature_create_bookmarks_table.cql
  • 0081_awesome_feature_alter_users_table.cql

A word about testing

It would be ideal to have a throw-away database instance which has the same schema as the productive database that is being made available at the beginning of the tests . When using testcontainers library together with cassandra-migration this feat of quality assurance engineering is easily achieved.

Below is presented a relevant snippet from the Cassandra configuration class used for test purposes:

public class CassandraDockerConfiguration {
  // ...

  public CassandraContainer cassandraContainer() {
    var cassandraContainer = new CassandraContainer(CassandraContainer.IMAGE

    return cassandraContainer;

  public CassandraClusterFactoryBean applicationCluster(CassandraContainer cassandraContainer) {
    final CassandraClusterFactoryBean cluster = new CassandraClusterFactoryBean();

    return cluster;

  public CassandraClusterFactoryBean migrationCluster(CassandraContainer cassandraContainer) {
    final CassandraClusterFactoryBean cluster = new CassandraClusterFactoryBean();

    return cluster;
  // ...

The setup of the tests is done afterwards pretty straightforward:

@TestPropertySource(properties = {"cassandra.migration.keyspaceName = demo",
    "cassandra.migration.scriptLocation: cassandra/migration"})
public class DemoTest {
  // ...

Runnable sample code

The java project cassandra-migration-spring-boot-demo provides a runnable example on how to perform the separation of concerns between the Cassandra application and migration users. The project also makes use of testcontainers library allowing therefor the repository tests to be executed against a real (and not embedded) Cassandra database.

Simply use mvn clean install for trying out the project.