Autoscaling lets you adjust the hardware resources allocated to application clusters automatically depending on actual usage.

You can turn it on by specifying ranges in square brackets for the node and/or node resource values in services.xml. The Vespa Cloud will monitor the resource utilization of your clusters and automatically choose the cheapest resource allocation within ranges that produces close to optimal utilization.

You can see the status and recent actions of the autoscaler in the Resources view under a deployment in the console.

Autoscaling is not considering latency differences achieved by different configurations. If your application has certain configurations that produce good throughput but too high latency, you should not include these configurations in your autoscaling ranges.

Adjusting the allocation of a cluster may happen quickly for stateless container clusters, and much more slowly for content clusters with a lot of data. Autoscaling will adjust each cluster on the timescale it typically takes to rescale it (including any data redistribution).

When to use autoscaling

Autoscaling is useful in a number of scenarios. Some typical ones are:

  • You have a new application which you can't benchmark with realistic data and usage, making you unsure what resources to allocate: Set wide ranges for all resource parameters and let the system choose a configuration. Once you gain experience you can consider tightening the configuration space.
  • You have load that varies quickly during the day, or that may suddenly increase quickly due to some event, and want container cluster resources to quickly adjust to the load: Set a range for the number of nodes and/or vcpu on containers.
  • Your expect your data volume to grow over time, but you don't want to allocate resources prematurely, nor constantly worry about whether it is time to increase: Configure ranges for content nodes and/or node resources such that the size of the system grows with the data.

Resource tradeoffs

Some other considerations when deciding resources:

  • Making changes to resources/nodes is easy and safe, and one of Vespa Cloud's strength. We advise you make controlled changes and observe effect on latencies, data migration and cost. Everything is automated, just deploy a new application package. This is useful learning when later needed during load peaks and capacity requirement changes.
  • Node resources cannot be chosen freely in all zones, CPU/Memory often comes in increments of x 2. Try to make sure that the resource configuration is a good fit.
  • CPU is the most expensive component, optimize for this for most applications.
  • Having few nodes means more overcapacity as Vespa requires that the system will handle one node being down (or one group, in content clusters having multiple groups). 4-5 nodes minimum is a good rule of thumb. Whether 4-5 or 9-10 nodes of half the size is better depends on quicker upgrade cycles vs. smoother resource auto-scale curves. Latencies can be better or worse, depending on static vs dynamic query cost.
  • Changing a node resource may mean allocating a new node, so it may be faster to scale container nodes by changing the number of nodes.
  • As a consequence, during resource shortage (say almost full disk), add nodes and keep the rest unchanged.
  • It is easiest to reason over capacity when changing one thing at a time.

It is often safe to follow the suggested resources advice when shown in the console and feel free to contact us if you have questions.

Mixed load

A Vespa application must handle a combination of reads and writes, from multiple sources. User load often resembles a sine-like curve. Machine-generated load, like a batch job, can be spiky and abrupt.

In the default Vespa configuration, all kinds of load uses _one_ default container cluster. Example: An application where daily batch jobs update the corpus at high rate:

nodes and resources

Autoscaling scales up much quicker than down, as the probability of a new spike is higher after one has been observed. In this example, see the rapid cluster growth for the daily load spike - followed by a slow decay.

The best solution for this case is to slow down the batch job, as it is of short duration. It is not always doable to slow down jobs - in these cases, setting up multiple container clusters can be a smart thing - optimize each cluster for its load characteristics. This could be a combination of clusters using autoscale and clusters with a fixed size. Autoscaling often works best for the user-generated load, whereas the machine-generated load could either be tuned or routed to a different cluster in the same Vespa application.

Related reading