Evacuate vs Rebuild

The evacuate API and rebuild API are commonly confused in nova because the internal conductor code and compute code use the same methods called rebuild_instance. This document explains some of the differences in what happens between an evacuate and rebuild operation.

High level

Evacuate is an operation performed by an administrator when a compute service or host is encountering some problem, goes down and needs to be fenced from the network. The servers that were running on that compute host can be rebuilt on a different host using the same image. If the source and destination hosts are running on shared storage then the root disk image of the servers can be retained otherwise the root disk image (if not using a volume-backed server) will be lost. This is one example of why it is important to attach data volumes to a server to store application data and leave the root disk for the operating system since data volumes will be re-attached to the server as part of the evacuate process.

Rebuild is an operation which can be performed by a non-administrative owner of the server (the user) performed on the same compute host to change certain aspects of the server, most notably using a different image. Note that the image does not have to change and in the case of volume-backed servers the image currently cannot change. Other attributes of the server can be changed as well such as key_name and user_data. See the rebuild API reference for full usage details. When a user rebuilds a server they want to change it which requires re-spawning the guest in the hypervisor but retain the UUID, volumes and ports attached to the server. For a non-volume-backed server the root disk image is rebuilt.


Evacuate always schedules the server to another host and rebuild always occurs on the same host.

Note that when rebuilding with a different image, the request is run through the scheduler to ensure the new image is still valid for the current compute host.


As noted above, the image that the server uses during an evacuate operation does not change. The image used to rebuild a server may change but does not have to and in the case of volume-backed servers cannot change.

Resource claims

The compute service ResourceTracker has a claims operation which is used to ensure resources are available before building a server on the host. The scheduler performs the initial filtering of hosts to ensure a server can be built on a given host and the compute claim is essentially meant as a secondary check to prevent races when the scheduler has out of date information or when there are concurrent build requests going to the same host.

During an evacuate operation there is a rebuild claim since the server is being re-built on a different host.

During a rebuild operation, since the flavor does not change, there is no claim made since the host does not change.


Since the 16.0.0 (Pike) release, the scheduler uses the placement service to filter compute nodes (resource providers) based on information in the flavor and image used to build the server. Once the scheduler runs through its filters and weighers and picks a host, resource class allocations are atomically consumed in placement with the server as the consumer.

During an evacuate operation, the allocations held by the server consumer against the source compute node resource provider are left intact since the source compute service is down. Note that migration-based allocations, which were introduced in the 17.0.0 (Queens) release, do not apply to evacuate operations but only resize, cold migrate and live migrate. So once a server is successfully evacuated to a different host, the placement service will track allocations for that server against both the source and destination compute node resource providers. If the source compute service is restarted after being evacuated and fixed, the compute service will delete the old allocations held by the evacuated servers.

During a rebuild operation, since neither the host nor flavor changes, the server allocations remain intact.