Amazon Athena HBase connector - Amazon Athena
Services or capabilities described in Amazon Web Services documentation might vary by Region. To see the differences applicable to the China Regions, see Getting Started with Amazon Web Services in China (PDF).

Amazon Athena HBase connector

The Amazon Athena HBase connector enables Amazon Athena to communicate with your Apache HBase instances so that you can query your HBase data with SQL.

Unlike traditional relational data stores, HBase collections do not have set schema. HBase does not have a metadata store. Each entry in a HBase collection can have different fields and data types.

The HBase connector supports two mechanisms for generating table schema information: basic schema inference and Amazon Glue Data Catalog metadata.

Schema inference is the default. This option scans a small number of documents in your collection, forms a union of all fields, and coerces fields that have non overlapping data types. This option works well for collections that have mostly uniform entries.

For collections with a greater variety of data types, the connector supports retrieving metadata from the Amazon Glue Data Catalog. If the connector sees an Amazon Glue database and table that match your HBase namespace and collection names, it gets its schema information from the corresponding Amazon Glue table. When you create your Amazon Glue table, we recommend that you make it a superset of all fields that you might want to access from your HBase collection.

If you have Lake Formation enabled in your account, the IAM role for your Athena federated Lambda connector that you deployed in the Amazon Serverless Application Repository must have read access in Lake Formation to the Amazon Glue Data Catalog.



Use the Lambda environment variables in this section to configure the HBase connector.

  • spill_bucket – Specifies the Amazon S3 bucket for data that exceeds Lambda function limits.

  • spill_prefix – (Optional) Defaults to a subfolder in the specified spill_bucket called athena-federation-spill. We recommend that you configure an Amazon S3 storage lifecycle on this location to delete spills older than a predetermined number of days or hours.

  • spill_put_request_headers – (Optional) A JSON encoded map of request headers and values for the Amazon S3 putObject request that is used for spilling (for example, {"x-amz-server-side-encryption" : "AES256"}). For other possible headers, see PutObject in the Amazon Simple Storage Service API Reference.

  • kms_key_id – (Optional) By default, any data that is spilled to Amazon S3 is encrypted using the AES-GCM authenticated encryption mode and a randomly generated key. To have your Lambda function use stronger encryption keys generated by KMS like a7e63k4b-8loc-40db-a2a1-4d0en2cd8331, you can specify a KMS key ID.

  • disable_spill_encryption – (Optional) When set to True, disables spill encryption. Defaults to False so that data that is spilled to S3 is encrypted using AES-GCM – either using a randomly generated key or KMS to generate keys. Disabling spill encryption can improve performance, especially if your spill location uses server-side encryption.

  • disable_glue – (Optional) If present and set to true, the connector does not attempt to retrieve supplemental metadata from Amazon Glue.

  • glue_catalog – (Optional) Use this option to specify a cross-account Amazon Glue catalog. By default, the connector attempts to get metadata from its own Amazon Glue account.

  • default_hbase – If present, specifies an HBase connection string to use when no catalog-specific environment variable exists.

Specifying connection strings

You can provide one or more properties that define the HBase connection details for the HBase instances that you use with the connector. To do this, set a Lambda environment variable that corresponds to the catalog name that you want to use in Athena. For example, suppose you want to use the following queries to query two different HBase instances from Athena:

SELECT * FROM "hbase_instance_1".database.table
SELECT * FROM "hbase_instance_2".database.table

Before you can use these two SQL statements, you must add two environment variables to your Lambda function: hbase_instance_1 and hbase_instance_2. The value for each should be a HBase connection string in the following format:


Using secrets

You can optionally use Amazon Secrets Manager for part or all of the value for your connection string details. To use the Athena Federated Query feature with Secrets Manager, the VPC connected to your Lambda function should have internet access or a VPC endpoint to connect to Secrets Manager.

If you use the syntax ${my_secret} to put the name of a secret from Secrets Manager in your connection string, the connector replaces the secret name with your user name and password values from Secrets Manager.

For example, suppose you set the Lambda environment variable for hbase_instance_1 to the following value:


The Athena Query Federation SDK automatically attempts to retrieve a secret named hbase_instance_1_creds from Secrets Manager and inject that value in place of ${hbase_instance_1_creds}. Any part of the connection string that is enclosed by the ${ } character combination is interpreted as a secret from Secrets Manager. If you specify a secret name that the connector cannot find in Secrets Manager, the connector does not replace the text.

Setting up databases and tables in Amazon Glue

The connector's built-in schema inference supports only values that are serialized in HBase as strings (for example, String.valueOf(int)). Because the connector's built-in schema inference capability is limited, you might want to use Amazon Glue for metadata instead. To enable an Amazon Glue table for use with HBase, you must have an Amazon Glue database and table with names that match the HBase namespace and table that you want to supply supplemental metadata for. The use of HBase column family naming conventions is optional but not required.

To use an Amazon Glue table for supplemental metadata
  1. When you edit the table and database in the Amazon Glue console, add the following table properties:

    • hbase-metadata-flag – This property indicates to the HBase connector that the connector can use the table for supplemental metadata. You can provide any value for hbase-metadata-flag as long as the hbase-metadata-flag property is present in the list of table properties.

    • hbase-native-storage-flag – Use this flag to toggle the two value serialization modes supported by the connector. By default, when this field is not present, the connector assumes all values are stored in HBase as strings. As such it will attempt to parse data types such as INT, BIGINT, and DOUBLE from HBase as strings. If this field is set with any value on the table in Amazon Glue, the connector switches to "native" storage mode and attempts to read INT, BIGINT, BIT, and DOUBLE as bytes by using the following functions:

      ByteBuffer.wrap(value).getInt() ByteBuffer.wrap(value).getLong() ByteBuffer.wrap(value).get() ByteBuffer.wrap(value).getDouble()
  2. Make sure that you use the data types appropriate for Amazon Glue as listed in this document.

Modeling column families

The Athena HBase connector supports two ways to model HBase column families: fully qualified (flattened) naming like family:column, or using STRUCT objects.

In the STRUCT model, the name of the STRUCT field should match the column family, and children of the STRUCT should match the names of the columns of the family. However, because predicate push down and columnar reads are not yet fully supported for complex types like STRUCT, using STRUCT is currently not advised.

The following image shows a table configured in Amazon Glue that uses a combination of the two approaches.

Modeling column families in Amazon Glue for Apache Hbase.

Data type support

The connector retrieves all HBase values as the basic byte type. Then, based on how you defined your tables in Amazon Glue Data Catalog, it maps the values into one of the Apache Arrow data types in the following table.

Amazon Glue data type Apache Arrow data type
int INT
bigint BIGINT
double FLOAT8
float FLOAT4
boolean BIT
string VARCHAR

If you do not use Amazon Glue to supplement your metadata, the connector's schema inferencing uses only the data types BIGINT, FLOAT8, and VARCHAR.

Required Permissions

For full details on the IAM policies that this connector requires, review the Policies section of the athena-hbase.yaml file. The following list summarizes the required permissions.

  • Amazon S3 write access – The connector requires write access to a location in Amazon S3 in order to spill results from large queries.

  • Athena GetQueryExecution – The connector uses this permission to fast-fail when the upstream Athena query has terminated.

  • Amazon Glue Data Catalog – The HBase connector requires read only access to the Amazon Glue Data Catalog to obtain schema information.

  • CloudWatch Logs – The connector requires access to CloudWatch Logs for storing logs.

  • Amazon Secrets Manager read access – If you choose to store HBase endpoint details in Secrets Manager, you must grant the connector access to those secrets.

  • VPC access – The connector requires the ability to attach and detach interfaces to your VPC so that it can connect to it and communicate with your HBase instances.


The Athena HBase connector attempts to parallelize queries against your HBase instance by reading each region server in parallel. The Athena HBase connector performs predicate pushdown to decrease the data scanned by the query.

The Lambda function also performs projection pushdown to decrease the data scanned by the query. However, selecting a subset of columns sometimes results in a longer query execution runtime. LIMIT clauses reduce the amount of data scanned, but if you do not provide a predicate, you should expect SELECT queries with a LIMIT clause to scan at least 16 MB of data.

HBase is prone to query failures and variable query execution times. You might have to retry your queries multiple times for them to succeed. The HBase connector is resilient to throttling due to concurrency.

Passthrough queries

The HBase connector supports passthrough queries and is NoSQL based. For information about querying Apache HBase using filtering, see Filter language in the Apache documentation.

To use passthrough queries with HBase, use the following syntax:

SELECT * FROM TABLE( system.query( database => 'database_name', collection => 'collection_name', filter => '{query_syntax}' ))

The following example HBase passthrough query filters for employees aged 24 or 30 within the employee collection of the default database.

SELECT * FROM TABLE( system.query( DATABASE => 'default', COLLECTION => 'employee', FILTER => 'SingleColumnValueFilter(''personaldata'', ''age'', =, ''binary:30'')' || ' OR SingleColumnValueFilter(''personaldata'', ''age'', =, ''binary:24'')' ))

License information

The Amazon Athena HBase connector project is licensed under the Apache-2.0 License.

Additional resources

For additional information about this connector, visit the corresponding site on