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Boson Distributed Quota Manager


This page provides an initial proposal for the Boson distributed quota manager, for use with Nova and other OpenStack projects (although it should also be general enough for use with any other project). It is necessary primarily because Nova can potentially be deployed in a multi-cell manner, but quotas should be enforced across the entire deployment rather than per cell. Its generality means that it can also be used to track quotas for other projects (e.g., Glance, Quantum, etc.). If Boson is used for tracking quotas in multiple projects in this manner, that in turn means that it becomes a single point of contact for users to evaluate their current quotas and usages, as well as for administrators to manage quotas.

Boson Description

Boson is defined as a REST API, accessible via HTTP rather than RPC. This means that it can be used by any project without having to pull in Nova's RPC mechanism. This also means that users can access it directly, to inquire as to their current usages. On the down side, it means that Boson must apply authorization checks to ensure that users cannot modify their own quotas while administrators can.

Boson tracks quotas and usages for services. Each service being tracked may potentially provide different authentication information for checking quotas; for instance, Nova may provide a user's quota class, while no other service currently uses this information. (In fact, Nova does not currently originate quota class data; it instead assumes that the authentication middleware will set the quota class if one is available. It should be noted, however, that there are efforts underway to incorporate quota classes directly into Nova.) Each service is named with a simple string, which will form part of the URI.

For each service, a set of resources is registered. Resources are named using hierarchical simple strings, which will form another part of the URI for accessing Boson. For each resource, a set of required parameters are declared, for differentiating usages per resource. (To further explain resource parameters, consider Nova's security group rules: there is a quota for how many security group rules may be associated with a given security group, but a given user may have more than one security group. The resource parameters are used to indicate that a usage or reservation is associated with a given security group.) Resources can be described as abstract or concrete, based on these parameters: if all required parameters are provided, then the resource is concrete, but if one or more required parameters are not provided, then the resource is abstract.

Quota Tracking

There are three basic objects that are tracked to provide quota enforcement; they are:

Bind an abstract resource with a numerical limit on the usage of that resource. To provide support for default quotas, per-class quotas, per-tenant quotas, etc., the Quota object may also have one piece of authentication data. The registration of the service will indicate quota priorities based on the authentication data, so that, e.g., a default quota is overridden by a per-class quota, which in turn is overridden by a per-tenant quota. None of the resource parameters are relevant for a quota, as a Quota object merely binds a limit with a resource.
Bind a concrete resource (a resource with all required parameters) with the current in-use count of that resource. (For purposes of synchronization, different instances of the services will have their usage tracked individually, but for the purposes of quota enforcement and reporting, only the aggregate usage is reported.) The Usage object also keeps track of resources that are reserved; the sum of the in-use count and the current reservation count are used when evaluating new reservations.
Bind a concrete resource (a resource with all required parameters) with a delta. Reservations are key to the quota management and enforcement infrastructure; quotas are checked by requesting reservations, and successfully created reservations are then later either committed or rolled back. The delta of a Reservation object is either positive or negative. Reservation objects additionally have two ID fields, one being optional and provided by the caller, and the other being generated and returned by Boson. (Origination data is also stored with the Reservation, to ensure that Reservations can only be committed or rolled back by the proper caller.) Certain reservations can also be committed immediately upon being approved; this would typically be used when decrementing a resource, for instance, when destroying a Nova instance.

Dynamic Operation

Boson should provide a dynamic quota management system. To achieve this, certain idempotent operations are defined, such as defining services and resources (and default quotas for those resources). By defining these operations as part of the REST API, we enable new services to be tracked by Boson with minimal work required by the administrator. By defining these operations to be idempotent, we can allow the services to register themselves each time they start up, which also affords the opportunity to automatically register new resources that have been added to the code base for a given service. (We can even track the last time we saw a given resource declared, which will make it easier to identify deprecated resources and purge them from Boson's database later on.)

Data Storage

Boson requires two primary things from its data storage backend: atomicity and document storage/retrieval. The atomicity requirement is simple to understand: by allowing data to be manipulated in an atomic manner, we allow the administrator to stand up multiple instances of Boson for HA configuration. (This requirement extends to atomic update of multiple database objects.) The document storage/retrieval requirement is more difficult to explain. Because concrete resources can have associated parameters, Boson needs the ability to remember both the key and the value of those parameters in the Usage and Reservation objects. It is also necessary to be able to search for a given Usage or Reservation based on some or all of the key/value pairs, so that usage information may be obtained and easily displayed to the user. This latter requirement may indicate that a NoSQL solution is the best for Boson's backend.

Usage Synchronization

Boson depends on having access to the current utilization of a given resource. There are a couple of ways of getting this information into Boson. The simplest is to simply have the services regularly send the updated usage information to Boson, but that might be prohibitively expensive for the services. Instead, Boson will keep freshness information on the usage data; should it determine that the usage information it has is not fresh enough, it will reject reservation creation requests with a special response code, which tells the service to send fresh usage information for certain resources along with resending the reservation creation requests. (This can be supported by a client library, to make this extra round trip invisible to the service.) This will amortize the cost of keeping the usage information fresh across all reservation requests.

"Absolute" Quotas

Some quotas are much simpler than Boson is designed to accommodate. As an example, consider Nova, which has a quota for the number of injected files allowed when creating a new instance. There is no usage information that should be tracked by Boson; the limit applies to each instance only at its creation time. To accommodate this, resources will consist of two different types: absolute resources and reservable resources, with the example limit of the number of injected files being an absolute resource. Only reservable resources can have reservations, but the reservation creation interface will provide support for either checking an absolute number against the quota of a resource, or for returning the limit to the caller, for its own processing.

What's in a Name?

A "boatswain" is a petty officer on a merchant ship who controls the work of other seamen. One could envision such a crew member also being responsible for rationing scarce resources, such as food or water. Alternate spellings of "boatswain" are "bosun" and "boson"; the latter was chosen because the author is inherently a physics geek (as evidenced by the third-person reference!).