Platform administration cheat sheet

This article aims to provide clear and opinionated guidance for account and workspace admins on recommended best practices. The following practices should be implemented by account or workspace admins to help optimize cost, observability, data governance, and security in their Databricks account.

For in-depth security best practices, see this PDF: Databricks GCP Security Best Practices and Threat Model.

Best practice



Enable Unity Catalog

Data governance: Unity Catalog provides centralized access control, auditing, lineage, and data discovery capabilities across Databricks workspaces.

Use cluster policies

Cost: Control costs with auto-termination (for all-purpose clusters), limiting max cluster size.

Observability: Set custom_tags in your cluster policy to enforce tagging.

Security: Restrict cluster access mode to only allow users to create Unity Catalog-enabled clusters to enforce data permissions.

Use Service Principals to connect to third-party software

Security: A service principal is a Databricks identity type that allows third-party services to authenticate directly to Databricks, not through an individual user’s credentials.

If something happens to an individual user’s credentials, the third-party service won’t be interrupted.

Set up SCIM integration

Security: Instead of adding users to Databricks manually, integrate with your identity provider to automate user provisioning and deprovisioning. When a user is removed from the identity provider, they are automatically removed from Databricks too.

Manage access control with account-level groups

Data governance: Create account-level groups so you can bulk control access to workspaces, resources, and data. This saves you from having to grant all users access to everything or grant individual users specific permissions.

You can also sync groups from your identity provider to Databricks groups.

Set up IP access for IP whitelisting

Security: IP access lists prevent users from accessing Databricks resources in unsecured networks. Accessing a cloud service from an unsecured network can pose security risks to an enterprise, especially when the user may have authorized access to sensitive or personal data

Make sure to set up IP access lists for your account console and workspaces.

Use Databricks Secrets or a cloud provider secrets manager

Security: Using Databricks secrets allows you to securely store credentials for external data sources. Instead of entering credentials directly into a notebook, you can simply reference a secret to authenticate to a data source.

Set expiration dates on personal access tokens (PATs)

Security: Workspace admins can manage PATs for users, groups, and service principals. Setting expiration dates for PATs reduces the risk of lost tokens or long-lasting tokens that could lead to data exfiltration from the workspace.

Use system tables to monitor account usage

Observability: System tables are a Databricks-hosted analytical store of your account’s operational data, including audit logs, data lineage, and billable usage. You can use system tables for observability across your account.