AWS Glue Best Practices: Optimize Your Data Integration Workflow


AWS Glue is a fully managed, serverless data integration service that simplifies and automates the process of extracting, transforming, and loading (ETL) data from various sources to your data lake or data warehouse. Implementing best practices for AWS Glue can improve efficiency, security, and cost-effectiveness of your data integration workflows. In this article, we will discuss various best practices for AWS Glue, categorized into different sections, and provide actionable steps on how to implement them.

Section 1: Glue Architecture and Design Best Practices

Ensure Scalability with Proper Partitioning

Partitioning your data in AWS Glue can significantly improve query performance and reduce costs by limiting the amount of data scanned during queries. To ensure proper partitioning:

  1. Choose an appropriate partition key based on your query patterns (e.g., date, customer ID).
  2. Use AWS Glue Crawlers to automatically discover and create partitions.
  3. Regularly monitor and optimize partition sizes to maintain balance between the number of partitions and the size of each partition.

Learn more about partitioning in AWS Glue

Use AWS Glue Catalog to Manage Metadata

The AWS Glue Data Catalog provides a centralized metadata repository for all your data assets across multiple AWS services. By using the Data Catalog, you can:

  1. Easily discover and search for datasets using schema versioning and data lineage information.
  2. Automate schema discovery and management using AWS Glue Crawlers.
  3. Integrate with other AWS services like Amazon Athena and Amazon Redshift Spectrum for seamless querying.

Get started with AWS Glue Data Catalog

Limit the Number of Concurrent Job Runs to Prevent Throttling

AWS Glue imposes limits on the number of concurrent job runs, which can lead to throttling if not managed properly. To avoid throttling:

  1. Use AWS Glue triggers to manage dependencies between jobs and control the execution order.
  2. Monitor the number of concurrent job runs using Amazon CloudWatch metrics and alarms.
  3. Consider increasing the maximum concurrent runs limit by contacting AWS Support if needed.

Section 2: Glue Powered ETL Job Best Practices

Choose the Right Data Format for Your Use Case

Selecting the appropriate data format can significantly impact query performance and storage costs. Some popular data formats include Parquet, Avro, and JSON. Consider the following factors when choosing a data format:

  1. Compression: Formats like Parquet and Avro provide better compression ratios, reducing storage costs.
  2. Query performance: Columnar formats like Parquet improve query performance by minimizing data scanning.
  3. Schema evolution: Avro supports schema evolution, allowing you to add, remove, or modify fields without breaking compatibility with existing data.

Optimize Job Performance with AWS Glue Job Bookmarks

AWS Glue job bookmarks help track processed data and ensure that only new or changed data is processed in subsequent job runs. To use job bookmarks:

  1. Enable job bookmarks in your AWS Glue ETL job settings.
  2. Ensure that your input data source supports job bookmarks (e.g., Amazon S3, JDBC).
  3. Monitor and manage job bookmarks using the AWS Glue console or API.

Related Reading: Learn more about leveraging AWS Glue ETL

Utilize Spark Optimizations to Improve Job Performance

AWS Glue uses Apache Spark under the hood to execute ETL jobs. Leveraging Spark optimizations can significantly improve job performance:

  1. Use the right Spark DataFrame APIs to perform operations like filtering and joining.
  2. Optimize Spark configurations, such as executor memory and parallelism settings, based on your specific use case.
  3. Monitor Spark application metrics using Amazon CloudWatch and the AWS Glue console to identify performance bottlenecks and optimize accordingly.

Section 3: AWS Glue Security and Compliance Best Practices

Protect Sensitive Data with AWS Glue Data Catalog Encryption

Encrypting sensitive data in the AWS Glue Data Catalog is crucial for maintaining data security and compliance. To enable encryption:

  1. Configure AWS Key Management Service (KMS) to create and manage encryption keys.
  2. Enable encryption at rest for your Data Catalog by specifying a KMS key during creation or modification of a database or table.
  3. Ensure that all users and applications have the necessary permissions to access encrypted data through IAM policies.

Understand AWS Glue Data Catalog encryption

Implement Fine-Grained Access Control Using AWS Glue Resource-Level Policies

Resource-level policies in AWS Glue allow you to define granular permissions for specific resources like databases, tables, and jobs. To implement fine-grained access control:

  1. Create custom IAM policies with specific resource ARNs and actions (e.g., glue:GetTableglue:StartJobRun).
  2. Attach these custom policies to IAM users, groups, or roles as needed.
  3. Regularly review and update IAM policies to ensure least privilege access.

Follow AWS IAM best practices

Audit and Monitor AWS Glue Activity with AWS CloudTrail

AWS CloudTrail enables auditing and monitoring of API calls made to AWS Glue, providing valuable insights into user activity and potential security incidents. To use CloudTrail with AWS Glue:

  1. Enable CloudTrail logging for your AWS account.
  2. Configure a trail to capture AWS Glue API calls, and specify an S3 bucket for storing logs.
  3. Analyze CloudTrail logs using Amazon Athena or other log analysis tools to identify suspicious activity and investigate security incidents.

Section 4: Glue Cost Optimization Best Practices

Choose the Right Pricing Model Based on Your Workload

AWS Glue offers different pricing models to suit various workloads and budget requirements. Consider the following factors when choosing a pricing model:

  1. Pay-as-you-go: Suitable for unpredictable workloads with variable usage patterns.
  2. Savings Plans: Offer long-term commitment options for predictable workloads, providing cost savings over pay-as-you-go pricing.

Explore AWS Glue pricing options

Optimize Resources by Using Development Endpoints in AWS Glue

Development endpoints in AWS Glue enable interactive development and testing of ETL scripts, helping you optimize resource usage before deploying jobs. To use development endpoints:

  1. Create a development endpoint with the desired configuration (e.g., number of DPUs, VPC settings).
  2. Connect to the endpoint using a notebook or SSH client to develop and test your ETL script.
  3. Monitor resource usage during development and adjust configurations accordingly to minimize costs.

Monitor Your AWS Glue Costs Using AWS Cost Explorer and AWS Budgets

Regularly monitoring and managing your AWS Glue costs can help you stay within budget and optimize resource usage. Use the following tools to monitor your costs:

  1. AWS Cost Explorer: Provides detailed insights into your AWS Glue spending patterns, allowing you to identify cost drivers and potential savings opportunities.
  2. AWS Budgets: Allows you to set custom cost and usage budgets for AWS Glue, and sends alerts when your actual or forecasted costs exceed the budget thresholds.

Learn more about monitoring AWS Glue costs

Section 5: Monitoring and Troubleshooting Best Practices

Set up CloudWatch Alarms for Monitoring Job Failures and Performance Metrics

Amazon CloudWatch provides various metrics for monitoring AWS Glue job performance and failures. To set up CloudWatch alarms:

  1. Identify critical AWS Glue metrics, such as job run status, execution time, and memory usage.
  2. Create CloudWatch alarms with appropriate threshold values for each metric.
  3. Configure alarm actions, such as sending notifications or triggering Lambda functions, to respond to specific events.

Use AWS Glue Logs to Identify Issues and Analyze Job Performance

AWS Glue automatically logs job run information and error messages to Amazon CloudWatch Logs. To use AWS Glue logs for troubleshooting and performance analysis:

  1. Enable logging for your AWS Glue jobs by specifying a log group and prefix in the job settings.
  2. Analyze log data using CloudWatch Logs Insights or export logs to other log analysis tools.
  3. Identify common issues, such as data type mismatches, incorrect configurations, or resource constraints, and implement appropriate fixes.

Utilize AWS Glue Job Metrics to Track Job Progress and Detect Anomalies

AWS Glue Job Metrics provide real-time visibility into job progress and performance, helping you detect anomalies and optimize your ETL workflows. To use Job Metrics:

  1. Enable Job Metrics in your AWS Glue job settings.
  2. Monitor key metrics like bytesReadrecordsRead, and processingTime using the AWS Glue console or CloudWatch.
  3. Identify trends and anomalies in metric data to optimize job performance and resource usage.

Do’s and Don’ts for AWS Glue


  • Use schema evolution when possible to accommodate changes in your data sources.
  • Leverage AWS Glue’s built-in connectors for seamless integration with other AWS services.
  • Continuously monitor and optimize your AWS Glue environment using available tools and metrics.


  • Avoid writing custom classifiers unless absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t overlook security best practices when designing your AWS Glue architecture.
  • Don’t forget to clean up unused resources, such as temporary tables and databases, to save costs.


Implementing best practices for AWS Glue is essential for achieving efficient, secure, and cost-effective data integration workflows. By following the recommendations discussed in this article, you can optimize your AWS Glue environment, ensuring high-performance ETL processes and robust data management. Remember to continuously monitor and adjust your strategies as your data integration needs evolve, leveraging the rich set of tools and features provided by AWS Glue and related services.

Discover more about AWS Glue and related topics