The primary limitation of composite keys is that you can only query efficiently by known components of the composite key in the order they are serialized . Because of this limitation I find it easiest to think of your key like a funnel. Start with the piece of data you always need to partition on, and narrow it down to the more specific data that you don't often need to distinguish.[…] As a caveat to this process, keep in mind that HBase partitions its data across region servers based on the same lexicographic ordering that gets us the behavior we're exploiting. If your reads/writes are heavily concentrated into a few values for the first (or first few) components of your key, you will end up with poorly distributed load across region servers. HBase functions best when the distribution of reads/writes is uniform across all potential row key values. While a perfectly uniform distribution might be impossible, this should still be a consideration when constructing a composite key.
via NoSQL databases