Competition Example Architectural Decision Entry 4 – vCloud Allocation Pool Usable Memory

Name: Prasenjit Sarkar
Title: Senior Member of Technical Staff
Company: VMware
Twitter: @stretchcloud
Profile: VCAP-DCD4/5,VCAP-DCA4/5,VCAP-CIA,vExpert 2012/2013

Problem Statement

When using an Allocation Pool with 100% memory reservation, due to the VM memory overhead, the usable memory is less than what is expected by the users. What is the best way to ensure users can use the entire memory assigned to the Allocation pool.


1. vCD 5.1.2 is in use

2. vSphere 5.1 or later is in use

3. Org VDC created with Allocation Pool


1. vCD 5.1.2 has to be used

2. Allocation Model only VDCs are affected


1. Need to use 100% memory allocated to the VDC with Allocation Pool model

2. Optimal use of Memory assigned to Org VDC and then to the VM

Architectural Decision

Due to the “by design” fact of VM memory overhead, we cannot use the entire allocated memory and this will be solved by enabling Elastic Allocation Pool in the vCloud System level and then set a lower vCPU Speed value (260 MHz). This will allow VMs to use the entire allocated memory (100% guarantees) in the Org VDC.


1. Over allocate resources to the customer but only reserve the amount they purchased.

Historically VM overhead ranges in between <=5% to 20%. Most configurations have an overhead of less than 5%, if you assume such you could over allocate resources by 5% but only reserve ~95%. The effect would be that the customer could consume up to the amount of vRAM they purchased and if they created VMs with low overhead (high vRAM allocations, low vCPU) they could possibly actually consume more than they “purchased”. In the case of a 20GHz/20GB purchase we would have to set the Allocation to 21GHz but set the reservation to 95%.


VM memory overhead is calculated with so many moving targets like the model of the CPU in the ESXi host the VM will be running on, whether 3D is enabled for MKS, etc. So you cannot use the entire allocated memory at any point in time.

By selecting the Elastic VDC, we are overwriting this behavior and still not allowing more VMs to power on from what they have entitled to. Also Elastic VDC gives us an opportunity to set a custom vCPU speed and lowering the vCPU speed will allow you to deploy more vCPUs without being penalized. Without setting this flag, you cannot overcommit the vCPU, which is really bad.

260MHz is the least vCPU speed we can set and thus this has been taken to allow system administrators to overcommit the vCPUs in a VDC with Allocation Pool.



1. One of the caveat is not having any memory reservation for any VMs. Due to the nature of OrgVDCs, it does not allow an Org Admin to set the resource reservation for the VMs (unlike Reservation Pool) and thus any VMs with Elasticity on will not have any reservation which will be marked as overkill for the customer’s high I/O VMs (like DB or Mail Server).

You can easily overwrite the resource reservation using the vSphere but that is not the intent. Hence, we flag it as RISK as it will hamper customer’s VM performance for sure.

If we say we are reserving 100% memory and thus spawning the VMs will get equal memory and can’t oversubscribe the memory as the limit is still what the customer has bought, then also if there is a contention of memory within those VMs, I don’t have an option to prefer those VMs which are resource hungry. In a nutshell all of the VMs will get equal share.

Equal shares will distribute the resource in a RP equally and thus there will not be any guarantee that a hungry VM can get more resource on demand.

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