Nova uses a quota system for setting limits on resources such as number of instances or amount of CPU that a specific project or user can use.

Quotas are enforced by making a claim, or reservation, on resources when a request is made, such as creating a new server. If the claim fails, the request is rejected. If the reservation succeeds then the operation progresses until such a point that the reservation is either converted into usage (the operation was successful) or rolled back (the operation failed).

Typically the quota reservation is made in the nova-api service and the usage or rollback is performed in the nova-compute service, at least when dealing with a server creation or move operation.

Quota limits and usage can be retrieved via the limits REST API.

Checking quota

When calculating limits for a given resource and tenant, the following checks are made in order:

  • Depending on the resource, is there a tenant-specific limit on the resource in either the quotas or project_user_quotas tables in the database? If so, use that as the limit. You can create these resources by doing:

    openstack quota set --instances 5 <project>
  • Check to see if there is a hard limit for the given resource in the quota_classes table in the database for the default quota class. If so, use that as the limit. You can modify the default quota limit for a resource by doing:

    openstack quota set --class --instances 5 default
  • If the above does not provide a resource limit, then rely on the quota_* configuration options for the default limit.


The API sets the limit in the quota_classes table. Once a default limit is set via the default quota class, that takes precedence over any changes to that resource limit in the configuration options. In other words, once you’ve changed things via the API, you either have to keep those synchronized with the configuration values or remove the default limit from the database manually as there is no REST API for removing quota class values from the database.

Known issues

TODO: talk about quotas getting out of sync and how to recover

Future plans

TODO: talk about quotas in the resource counting spec and nested quotas