Using hierarchical resource quotas

Kubernetes resource quotas are a tool for administrators to ensure a fair share of resources among different users. A resource quota, defined by a ResourceQuota object, provides constraints that limit aggregate resource consumption in a single namespace.

Hierarchy Controller extends the concept of per-namespace resource quotas to support hierarchical namespaces. A HierarchicalResourceQuota object limits the aggregate resource consumption across all the namespaces in a subtree, allowing administrators to limit resource consumption across multiple related namespaces.

When hierarchical resource quotas are enabled, Hierarchy Controller installs two validating admission webhooks , one to actually enforce the resource consumption limits and the other to validate the hierarchical resource quotas themselves.

Enabling hierarchical resource quotas

Hierarchical resource quotas are provided by Hierarchy Controller. To enable hierarchical resource quotas, follow these steps:

  1. Install Hierarchy Controller, using Config Sync 1.6.2 or later.

  2. In the configuration file for the Config Sync Operator, in the spec.hierarchyController object, set the value of enableHierarchicalResourceQuota to true:

    # config-management.yaml
    kind: ConfigManagement
      name: config-management
        enabled: true
        # Set to true to enable hierarchical resource quotas:
        enableHierarchicalResourceQuota: true
      # ...other fields...
  3. Apply the configuration:

    kubectl apply -f config-management.yaml

    After about a minute, Hierarchy Controller and hierarchical resource quotas become usable on your cluster.

To verify that hierarchical resource quotas are enabled, follow these steps:

  1. Create a HierarchicalResourceQuota object in any namespace, such as the following:

    cat > example-hrq.yaml <<EOF
    kind: HierarchicalResourceQuota
      name: example-hrq
        configmaps: "1"
    kubectl apply -f example-hrq.yaml -n default
  2. Verify that a new ResourceQuota object called gke-hc-hrq is created in the namespace with the same spec.hard of 1 configmap, e.g.:

    kubectl describe resourcequota gke-hc-hrq -n default


    Name:           gke-hc-hrq
    Namespace:      default
    Resource        Used    Hard
    --------        ----    ----
    configmaps      0       1
  3. Clean up:

    kubectl delete hrq -n default example-hrq

    Ensure that the automatically created object is removed:

    kubectl get resourcequota gke-hc-hrq -n default


    Error from server (NotFound): resourcequotas "gke-hc-hrq" not found

Using hierarchical resource quotas

Setting quotas

Setting a HierarchicalResourceQuota is the same as setting a regular ResourceQuota, but with a different apiVersion and kind; therefore, you can set limits on resources in the spec.hard field as you would in ResourceQuota.

Consider a team called team-a that owns a service called service-a and has a subteam called team-b, all of which are represented by hierarchical namespaces as follows:

kubectl hns tree team-a


├── service-a
└── team-b

If you want to limit the number of configmaps in team-a, but without limiting the number in any descendants, you can create a regular ResourceQuota as follows:

cat > team-a-rq.yaml <<EOF
apiVersion: v1
kind: ResourceQuota
  name: team-a-rq
  namespace: team-a
    configmaps: "1"

kubectl apply -f team-a-rq.yaml

By contrast, to limit the total number of configmaps in team-a and its descendants combined, replace the apiVersion and kind in the previous example:

cat > team-a-hrq.yaml <<EOF
# Modify the following two lines:
kind: HierarchicalResourceQuota
# Everything below this line remains the same
  name: team-a-hrq
  namespace: team-a
    configmaps: "1"


kubectl apply -f team-a-hrq.yaml

The first attempt to create a configmap in any of these three namespaces succeeds. For example, we might chose to create the configmap in one of the child namespaces:

kubectl create configmap config-1 --from-literal key=value -n team-b


confimap/config-1 created

But any further attempts to create new configmaps in any of the three namespaces fails, including in the sibling or parent namespaces:

kubectl create configmap config-2 --from-literal key=value -n service-a
kubectl create configmap config-2 --from-literal key=value -n team-a

Output for both:

Error from server (Forbidden): admission webhook "" denied the request: exceeded hierarchical quota in namespace "team-a": "team-a-hrq", requested: configmaps=1, used: configmaps=1, limited: configmaps=1

Inspecting quotas

To view the current limits and usage of the HierarchicalResourceQuota, use the kubectl describe command to view a regular resource quota:

kubectl describe hrq team-a-hrq -n team-a


# ...other fields...
    Configmaps:  1
    Configmaps:  1
    Configmaps:  1

Updating namespace hierarchy

A namespace is always subject to any HierarchicalResourceQuota in its ancestors. Modifying the namespace hierarchy triggers a re-calculation of the usages of any quotas.

Removing a namespace from a subtree with hierarchical quotas

When a namespace is moved out of a subtree with hierarchical quotas in its ancestors, it is no longer subject to these quotas, and its resources are removed from the quotas' usages.

For example, if team-b is removed from the preceding subtree, there will be no limits on configmap consumption in team-b. The hierarchical quota usage resets to 0, which means that team-a and service-a can now consume one more configmap in total.

Adding a namespace to a subtree with hierarchical quotas

When a namespace is added to a subtree with hierarchical quotas, it is subject to the hierarchical quotas, and its resource usages are added to the quotas' usages.

For example, if another namespace is added to the previous subtree, no further configmap consumption is allowed in the newly added namespace. Similarly, any existing configmap usage in the newly added namespace is added to the hierarchical quota's usage.

Hierarchical quotas do not prevent you from moving a new namespace into a subtree, even if the usage of the new namespace exceeds the limit in hierarchical quotas. However, if a limit is exceeded, further resource usage is banned until either the usage drops below the limit, or until the limit is raised. This is similar to the behavior of Kubernetes ResourceQuota when a limit is imposed that's lower than the existing usage in the namespace.

General rules

Hierarchical resource quotas behave similarly to Kubernetes resource quotas in corner cases. For example:

  • If multiple hierarchical resource quotas apply to the same namespace, the most restrictive resource limits are respected.
  • If you create a limit that is lower than the amount of already consumed resources, existing resources are not deleted, but any future resource consumption is forbidden until the usage drops below the limit or the limit is raised.


InternalError when consuming resources

When you consume resources, for example, when creating a configmap, your request might stop responding for 10 seconds, and you get the following error message:

Error from server (InternalError): Internal error occurred: resource quota evaluates timeout

You are not expected to see this error message unless the gke-hc-controller-manager Pod is in a bad state.

To fix the issue, administrators with permission can delete the Pod by using the gke-hc-controller-manager- prefix in the hnc-system namespace directly. The Pod restarts automatically. Before the Pod is ready, be aware of the following:

If this doesn't fix the issue, report it to us for analysis, preferably with logs that you can get by using the following:

kubectl logs -n hnc-system deployment/gke-hc-controller-manager -c manager

What's next