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Version: v15.0.2

How to Deploy Cumulus


This is a guide for deploying a new instance of Cumulus.

This document assumes familiarity with Terraform. If you are not comfortable working with Terraform, the following links should bring you up to speed:

The process involves:


Linux/MacOS Software Requirements

Install Terraform

It is recommended to keep a consistent version of Terraform as you deploy. Once your state files are migrated to a higher version, they are not always backwards compatible so integrators should pin their Terraform version. This is easily accomplished using the Terraform Version Manager (tfenv). If you have a Continuous Integration (CI) environment (or any other machine) that you are using to deploy the same stack, you should pin your version across those machines as well, otherwise you will run into errors trying to re-deploy from your local machine.

If you are using a Mac and Homebrew, installing tfenv is as simple as:

brew update
brew install tfenv

For other cases, installation instructions are available to follow along here.

 $ tfenv install 0.13.6
[INFO] Installing Terraform v0.13.6
[INFO] Switching completed

$ tfenv use 0.13.6
[INFO] Switching to v0.13.6
[INFO] Switching completed

It is recommended to stay on the Cumulus Core TF version which can be found here. Any changes to that will be noted in the release notes.

To verify your Terraform version, run:

$ terraform --version
Terraform v0.13.6


  • CMR username and password. CMR credentials must be provided if you are exporting metadata to CMR with Earthdata Login authentication.
  • NASA Launchpad. Launchpad credentials must be provided if you are using Launchpad authentication to export metadata to CMR or to authenticate with the Cumulus API.
  • Earthdata Login username and password. User must have the ability to administer and/or create applications in URS. It's recommended to obtain an account in the test environment (UAT).

Needed Git Repositories

Prepare Deployment Repository

If you already are working with an existing repository that is configured appropriately for the version of Cumulus you intend to deploy or update, skip to Prepare AWS configuration.

Clone the cumulus-template-deploy repo and name appropriately for your organization:

  git clone <repository-name>

We will return to configuring this repo and using it for deployment below.

Optional: Create a new repository

Create a new repository on Github so that you can add your workflows and other modules to source control:

  git remote set-url origin<repository-name>
git push origin master

You can then add/commit changes as needed.

⚠️ Note: If you are pushing your deployment code to a git repo, make sure to add and terraform.tfvars to .gitignore, as these files will contain sensitive data related to your AWS account.

Prepare AWS Configuration

Set Access Keys

You need to make some AWS information available to your environment. If you don't already have the access key and secret access key of an AWS user with IAM Create-User permissions, you must create access keys for such a user with IAM Create-User permissions, then export the access keys:

  export AWS_ACCESS_KEY_ID=<AWS access key>
export AWS_SECRET_ACCESS_KEY=<AWS secret key>
export AWS_REGION=<region>

If you don't want to set environment variables, access keys can be stored locally via the AWS CLI.

Create S3 Buckets

See creating S3 buckets for more information on how to create a bucket.

The following S3 bucket should be created (replacing <prefix> with whatever you'd like, generally your organization/DAAC's name):

  • <prefix>-internal

You can create additional S3 buckets based on the needs of your workflows.

These buckets do not need any non-default permissions to function with Cumulus; however, your local security requirements may vary.

⚠️ Note: S3 bucket object names are global and must be unique across all accounts/locations/etc.

VPC, Subnets, and Security Group

Cumulus supports operation within a VPC, but you will need to separately create:

  • VPC
  • Subnet
  • Security group
  • VPC endpoints for the various services used by Cumulus if you wish to route traffic through the VPC

These resources only need to be created once per AWS account and their IDs will be used to configure your Terraform deployment.

Elasticsearch in a VPC

Amazon Elasticsearch Service (ES) does not use a VPC Endpoint. To use ES within a VPC, before deploying run:

aws iam create-service-linked-role --aws-service-name

This operation only needs to be done once per account, but it must be done for both NGAP and regular AWS environments.

Look Up ECS-optimized AMI (DEPRECATED)

⚠️ Note: This step is unnecessary if you using the latest changes in the cumulus-template-deploy repo which will automatically determine the AMI ID for you based on your deploy_to_ngap variable.

Look up the recommended machine image ID for the Linux version and AWS region of your deployment. See Linux Amazon ECS-optimized AMIs docs. The image ID, beginning with ami-, will be assigned to the ecs_cluster_instance_image_id variable for the cumulus-tf module.

Set Up EC2 Key Pair (Optional)

The key pair will be used to SSH into your EC2 instance(s). It is recommended to create or import a key pair and specify it in your Cumulus deployment.

This can also be done post-deployment by redeploying your Cumulus instance.

Configure Earthdata Application

The Cumulus stack can authenticate with Earthdata Login. If you want to use this functionality, you must create and register a new Earthdata application. Use the User Acceptance Tools (UAT) site unless you intend use a different URS environment (which will require updating the urs_url value shown below).

Follow the directions on how to register an application. Use any url for the Redirect URL, it will be deleted in a later step. Also note the password in Step 3 and client ID in Step 4 use these to replace urs_client_id and urs_client_password in the terraform.tfvars for the cumulus-tf module shown below.

Create Resources for Terraform State

If you're re-deploying an existing Cumulus configuration you should skip to Deploy the Cumulus instance, as these values should already be configured.

The state of the Terraform deployment is stored in S3. In the following examples, it will be assumed that state is being stored in a bucket called my-tf-state. You can also use an existing bucket, if desired.

Create the State Bucket

aws s3api create-bucket --bucket my-tf-state

In order to help prevent loss of state information, it is strongly recommended that versioning be enabled on the state bucket.

aws s3api put-bucket-versioning \
--bucket my-tf-state \
--versioning-configuration Status=Enabled

⚠️ Note: If your state information does become lost or corrupt, then deployment (via terraform apply) will have unpredictable results, including possible loss of data and loss of deployed resources. In order to reduce your risk of the corruption or loss of your Terraform state file, or otherwise corrupt your Cumulus deployment, please see the Terraform Best Practices guide.

Create the Locks Table

Terraform uses a lock stored in DynamoDB in order to prevent multiple simultaneous updates. In the following examples, that table will be called my-tf-locks.

$ aws dynamodb create-table \
--table-name my-tf-locks \
--attribute-definitions AttributeName=LockID,AttributeType=S \
--key-schema AttributeName=LockID,KeyType=HASH \
--billing-mode PAY_PER_REQUEST \
--region us-east-1

Configure the PostgreSQL Database

Cumulus requires a PostgreSQL compatible database cluster deployed to AWS. We suggest utilizing RDS. For further guidance about what type of RDS database to use, please see the guide on choosing and configuring your RDS database.

Cumulus provides a default template and RDS cluster module utilizing Aurora Serverless.

However, Core intentionally provides a "bring your own" approach, and any well-planned cluster setup should work, given the following:

  • Appropriate testing/evaluation is given to ensure the database capacity will scale and the database deployment will allow access to Cumulus's internal components. Core provides for security-group oriented permissions management via the rds_security_group configuration parameter.
  • The database is configured such that its endpoint is accessible from the VPC and subnets configured for the Core deployment.
  • An AWS Secrets Manager secret exists that has the following format:
"database": "databaseName",
"host": "xxx",
"password": "defaultPassword",
"port": 5432,
"username": "xxx"
  • database -- the PostgreSQL database used by the configured user
  • host -- the RDS service host for the database in the form (dbClusterIdentifier)-(AWS ID string).(region)
  • password -- the database password
  • port -- The database connection port, should always be 5432
  • username -- the database username

This secret should provide access to a PostgreSQL database provisioned on the cluster.

To configure Cumulus you will need:

  • The AWS Secrets Manager ARN for the user Core will write with (e.g. arn:aws:secretsmanager:AWS-REGION:xxxxx:secret:xxxxxxxxxx20210407182709367700000002-dpmpXA ) for use in configuring rds_user_access_secret_arn.
  • (Optional) The security group ID that provides access to the cluster to configure rds_security_group.

Deploy the Cumulus Instance

A typical Cumulus deployment is broken into two Terraform root modules: data-persistence and cumulus.

The data-persistence module should be deployed first. This module creates the Elasticsearch domain, DynamoDB tables, RDS database tables, and performs any structural updates needed on the RDS tables via migrations. During the RDS migration, duplicate tables will be deployed by the data-persistence module in both DynamoDB and the RDS database. The cumulus module deploys the rest of Cumulus: distribution, API, ingest, workflows, etc. The cumulus module depends on the resources created in the data-persistence deployment.

Each of these modules have to be deployed independently and require their own Terraform backend, variable, and output settings. The template deploy repo that was cloned previously already contains the scaffolding of the necessary files for the deployment of each module: data-persistence-tf deploys the data-persistence module and cumulus-tf deploys the cumulus module. For reference on the files that are included, see the documentation on adding components to a Terraform deployment.


Please see our troubleshooting documentation for any issues with your deployment when performing the upcoming steps.

Configure and Deploy the data-persistence-tf Root Module

These steps should be executed in the data-persistence-tf directory of the template deploy repo that you previously cloned. Run the following to copy the example files.

cd data-persistence-tf/
cp terraform.tfvars.example terraform.tfvars

In, configure the remote state settings by substituting the appropriate values for:

  • bucket
  • dynamodb_table
  • PREFIX (whatever prefix you've chosen for your deployment)

Fill in the appropriate values in terraform.tfvars. See the data-persistence module variable definitions for more detail on each variable.

Consider the size of your Elasticsearch cluster when configuring data-persistence.

Reminder: Elasticsearch is optional and can be disabled using include_elasticsearch = false in your terraform.tfvars. Your Cumulus Dashboard will not work without Elasticsearch.

Reminder: If you are including subnet_ids in your terraform.tfvars, Elasticsearch will need a service-linked role to deploy successfully. Follow the instructions above to create the service-linked role if you haven't already.

Initialize Terraform

Run terraform init3

You should see an output like:

* version = "~> 2.32"

Terraform has been successfully initialized!


Run terraform apply to deploy your data persistence resources. Then type yes when prompted to confirm that you want to create the resources. Assuming the operation is successful, you should see an output like:

Apply complete! Resources: 16 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.


dynamo_tables = {
"access_tokens" = {
"arn" = "arn:aws:dynamodb:us-east-1:12345:table/prefix-AccessTokensTable"
"name" = "prefix-AccessTokensTable"
# ... more tables ...
elasticsearch_alarms = [
"arn" = "arn:aws:cloudwatch:us-east-1:12345:alarm:prefix-es-vpc-NodesLowAlarm"
"name" = "prefix-es-vpc-NodesLowAlarm"
# ... more alarms ...
elasticsearch_domain_arn = arn:aws:es:us-east-1:12345:domain/prefix-es-vpc
elasticsearch_hostname =
elasticsearch_security_group_id = sg-12345

Your data persistence resources are now deployed.

Deploy the Cumulus Message Adapter Layer (DEPRECATED)

⚠️ Note: This step is unnecessary if you using the latest changes in the cumulus-template-deploy repo which will automatically download the Cumulus Message Adapter and create the layer for you based on your cumulus_message_adapter_version variable.

The Cumulus Message Adapter (CMA) is necessary for interpreting the input and output of Cumulus workflow steps. The CMA is now integrated with Cumulus workflow steps as a Lambda layer.

To deploy a CMA layer to your account:

  1. Go to the CMA releases page and download the for the desired release
  2. Use the AWS CLI to publish your layer:
$ aws lambda publish-layer-version \
--layer-name prefix-CMA-layer \
--region us-east-1 \
--zip-file fileb:///path/to/
... more output ...
"LayerVersionArn": "arn:aws:lambda:us-east-1:1234567890:layer:prefix-CMA-layer:1",
... more output ...

Make sure to copy the LayerVersionArn of the deployed layer, as it will be used to configure the cumulus-tf deployment in the next step.

Configure and Deploy the cumulus-tf Root Module

These steps should be executed in the cumulus-tf directory of the template repo that was cloned previously.

cd cumulus-tf/
cp terraform.tfvars.example terraform.tfvars

In, configure the remote state settings by substituting the appropriate values for:

  • bucket
  • dynamodb_table
  • PREFIX (whatever prefix you've chosen for your deployment)

Fill in the appropriate values in terraform.tfvars. See the Cumulus module variable definitions for more detail on each variable.

Notes on specific variables:

  • deploy_to_ngap: This variable controls the provisioning of certain resources and policies that are specific to an NGAP environment. If you are deploying to NGAP, you must set this variable to true.
  • prefix: The value should be the same as the prefix from the data-persistence deployment.
  • data_persistence_remote_state_config: This object should contain the remote state values that you configured in data-persistence-tf/ These settings allow cumulus-tf to determine the names of the resources created in data-persistence-tf.
  • rds_security_group: The ID of the security group used to allow access to the PostgreSQL database
  • rds_user_access_secret_arn: The ARN for the Secrets Manager secret that provides database access information
  • cumulus_message_adapter_version: The version number (e.g. 1.3.0) of the Cumulus Message Adapter to deploy
  • key_name (optional): The name of your key pair from setting up your key pair. Adding your key_name sets the EC2 keypair for deployment's EC2 instances and allows you to connect to them via SSH/SSM.

Consider the sizing of your Cumulus instance when configuring your variables.

Choose a Distribution API

Cumulus can be configured to use either the Thin Egress App (TEA) or the Cumulus Distribution API. The default selection is the Thin Egress App if you're using the Deployment Template.

⚠️ IMPORTANT: If you already have a deployment using the TEA distribution and want to switch to Cumulus Distribution, there will be an API Gateway change. This means that there will be downtime while you update your CloudFront endpoint to use the new API gateway.

Configure the Thin Egress App

TEA can be used for Cumulus distribution and is the default selection. It allows authentication using Earthdata Login. Follow the steps in the TEA documentation to configure distribution in your cumulus-tf deployment.

Configure the Cumulus Distribution API (Optional)

If you would prefer to use the Cumulus Distribution API, which supports AWS Cognito authentication, follow these steps to configure distribution in your cumulus-tf deployment.

Initialize Terraform

Follow the above instructions to initialize Terraform using terraform init3.


Run terraform apply to deploy the resources. Type yes when prompted to confirm that you want to create the resources. Assuming the operation is successful, you should see output like this:

Apply complete! Resources: 292 added, 0 changed, 0 destroyed.


archive_api_redirect_uri =
archive_api_uri =
distribution_redirect_uri =
distribution_url =

⚠️ Note: Be sure to copy the redirect URLs because you will need them to update your Earthdata application.

Update Earthdata Application

Add the two redirect URLs to your EarthData login application by doing the following:

  1. Login to URS
  2. Under My Applications -> Application Administration -> use the edit icon of your application
  3. Under Manage -> redirect URIs, add the Archive API url returned from the stack deployment
    • e.g. archive_api_redirect_uri = https://<czbbkscuy6>
  4. Also add the Distribution url
    • e.g. distribution_redirect_uri = https://<kido2r7kji>
  5. You may delete the placeholder url you used to create the application

If you've lost track of the needed redirect URIs, they can be located on the API Gateway. Once there, select <prefix>-archive and/or <prefix>-thin-egress-app-EgressGateway, Dashboard and utilizing the base URL at the top of the page that is accompanied by the text Invoke this API at:. Make sure to append /token for the archive URL and /login to the thin egress app URL.

Deploy Cumulus Dashboard

Dashboard Requirements

Please note that the requirements are similar to the Cumulus stack deployment requirements. The installation instructions below include a step that will install/use the required node version referenced in the .nvmrc file in the Dashboard repository.

Prepare AWS

Create S3 Bucket for Dashboard:

  • Create it, e.g. <prefix>-dashboard. Use the command line or console as you did when preparing AWS configuration.
  • Configure the bucket to host a website:
    • AWS S3 console: Select <prefix>-dashboard bucket then, "Properties" -> "Static Website Hosting", point to index.html
    • CLI: aws s3 website s3://<prefix>-dashboard --index-document index.html
  • The bucket's url will be http://<prefix>-dashboard.s3-website-<region> or you can find it on the AWS console via "Properties" -> "Static website hosting" -> "Endpoint"
  • Ensure the bucket's access permissions allow your deployment user access to write to the bucket

Install Dashboard

To install the Cumulus Dashboard, clone the repository into the root deploy directory and install dependencies with npm install:

  git clone
cd cumulus-dashboard
nvm use
npm install

If you do not have the correct version of node installed, replace nvm use with nvm install $(cat .nvmrc) in the above example.

Dashboard Versioning

By default, the master branch will be used for Dashboard deployments. The master branch of the repository contains the most recent stable release of the Cumulus Dashboard.

If you want to test unreleased changes to the Dashboard, use the develop branch.

Each release/version of the Dashboard will have a tag in the Dashboard repo. Release/version numbers will use semantic versioning (major/minor/patch).

To checkout and install a specific version of the Dashboard:

  git fetch --tags
git checkout <version-number> # e.g. v1.2.0
nvm use
npm install

If you do not have the correct version of node installed, replace nvm use with nvm install $(cat .nvmrc) in the above example.

Building the Dashboard

⚠️ Note: These environment variables are available during the build: APIROOT, DAAC_NAME, STAGE, HIDE_PDR. Any of these can be set on the command line to override the values contained in config.js when running the build below.

To configure your dashboard for deployment, set the APIROOT environment variable to your app's API root.2

Build your dashboard from the Cumulus Dashboard repository root directory, cumulus-dashboard:

  APIROOT=<your_api_root> npm run build

Dashboard Deployment

Deploy your dashboard to S3 bucket from the cumulus-dashboard directory:

Using AWS CLI:

  aws s3 sync dist s3://<prefix>-dashboard --acl public-read

From the S3 Console:

  • Open the <prefix>-dashboard bucket, click 'upload'. Add the contents of the 'dist' subdirectory to the upload. Then select 'Next'. On the permissions window allow the public to view. Select 'Upload'.

You should be able to visit the Dashboard website at http://<prefix>-dashboard.s3-website-<region> or find the url <prefix>-dashboard -> "Properties" -> "Static website hosting" -> "Endpoint" and log in with a user that you had previously configured for access.

Cumulus Instance Sizing

The Cumulus deployment default sizing for Elasticsearch instances, EC2 instances, and Autoscaling Groups are small and designed for testing and cost savings. The default settings are likely not suitable for production workloads. Sizing is highly individual and dependent on expected load and archive size.

Please be cognizant of costs as any change in size will affect your AWS bill. AWS provides a pricing calculator for estimating costs.


The mappings file contains all of the data types that will be indexed into Elasticsearch. Elasticsearch sizing is tied to your archive size, including your collections, granules, and workflow executions that will be stored.

AWS provides documentation on calculating and configuring for sizing.

In addition to size you'll want to consider the number of nodes which determine how the system reacts in the event of a failure.

Configuration can be done in the data persistence module in elasticsearch_config and the cumulus module in es_index_shards.

If you make changes to your Elasticsearch configuration you will need to reindex for those changes to take effect.

EC2 Instances and Autoscaling Groups

EC2 instances are used for long-running operations (i.e. generating a reconciliation report) and long-running workflow tasks. Configuration for your ECS cluster is achieved via Cumulus deployment variables.

When configuring your ECS cluster consider:

  • The EC2 instance type and EBS volume size needed to accommodate your workloads. Configured as ecs_cluster_instance_type and ecs_cluster_instance_docker_volume_size.
  • The minimum and desired number of instances on hand to accommodate your workloads. Configured as ecs_cluster_min_size and ecs_cluster_desired_size.
  • The maximum number of instances you will need and are willing to pay for to accommodate your heaviest workloads. Configured as ecs_cluster_max_size.
  • Your autoscaling parameters: ecs_cluster_scale_in_adjustment_percent, ecs_cluster_scale_out_adjustment_percent, ecs_cluster_scale_in_threshold_percent, and ecs_cluster_scale_out_threshold_percent.


  1. Run terraform init if:

    • This is the first time deploying the module
    • You have added any additional child modules, including Cumulus components
    • You have updated the source for any of the child modules

  2. To add another redirect URIs to your application. On Earthdata home page, select "My Applications". Scroll down to "Application Administration" and use the edit icon for your application. Then Manage -> Redirect URIs.

  3. The API root can be found a number of ways. The easiest is to note it in the output of the app deployment step. But you can also find it from the AWS console -> Amazon API Gateway -> APIs -> <prefix>-archive -> Dashboard, and reading the URL at the top after "Invoke this API at"